Renteria v. Jimenez et al

Filing 29

FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS recommending that the District Court Dismiss this case. Matter referred to Judge O'Neill. Objections to F&R due within twenty-one (21) days; signed by Magistrate Judge Sheila K. Oberto on 5/11/2017. (Thorp, J)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 10 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 11 12 JIMMY JACOB RENTERIA, 13 14 15 16 17 Case No. 1:15-cv-01191-LJO-SKO Plaintiff, FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION THAT THE DISTRICT COURT DISMISS THIS CASE v. ADOLFO JIMENEZ, et al., Defendants. _____________________________________/ 18 19 On February 17, 2017, the undersigned filed an order to show cause (the “OSC”), which 20 included a warning to Plaintiff that the undersigned would recommend dismissal of this matter if 21 Plaintiff failed to file a statement by no later than March 9, 2017 showing cause as to why 22 dismissal was not warranted. (Doc. 27.) To date, Plaintiff has not responded to the OSC. 23 Accordingly, as discussed herein, the undersigned RECOMMENDS that the presiding district 24 court judge DISMISS this case, in its entirety. 25 26 I. BACKGROUND On July 31, 2015, Plaintiff filed the Complaint, in which he alleges that Defendants 27 infringed on Plaintiff’s constitutional rights during the course of a traffic stop. (See Doc. 1.) On 28 September 30, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Change of Address, in which he provided that his 1 “new address” is 1311 Annadale Ave., Sanger, CA 93657 (the “Current Address”). (Doc. 19.) To 2 date, Plaintiff has not filed any additional documentation providing a different mailing address. 3 By its order entered on December 22, 2016, the undersigned set a scheduling conference 4 for January 31, 2017, and directed the parties to file their joint scheduling report by no later than 5 January 24, 2017. (Doc. 24.) Defendant filed a scheduling report on January 24, 2017. (Doc. 25.) 6 Plaintiff did not participate in the creation of this scheduling report, (see Doc. 25), and failed to 7 appear at the January 31, 2017 scheduling conference. 8 By its order entered on January 31, 2017, the undersigned cautioned Plaintiff that it would 9 “enter an order to show cause as to why this matter should not be dismissed if, by no later than 10 February 14, 2017: (1) an attorney does not notice an appearance [on behalf of Plaintiff] on the 11 docket for this case; or (2) Plaintiff does not file notice on the docket for this case of his intent to 12 continue litigating this action.” (Doc. 26.) The Clerk mailed the January 31, 2017 order to 13 Plaintiff at his Current Address on the same date. 14 As of February 17, 2017, no attorney noticed an appearance on behalf of Plaintiff and 15 Plaintiff did not notify the Court of his intent to continue litigating this case. Consequently, the 16 undersigned entered the OSC on February 17, 2017. (Doc. 27.) In the OSC, the undersigned 17 ordered “that, by no later than March 9, 2017, Plaintiff shall file a statement showing cause why 18 the [undersigned] should not recommend to the presiding district court judge that this action be 19 dismissed.” (Id. at 2.) The undersigned further warned “Plaintiff that, if he fails to file this 20 statement by March 9, 2017, the [undersigned] will recommend to the presiding district court 21 judge that this action be dismissed, in its entirety.” (Id.) The Clerk mailed the OSC to Plaintiff at 22 his Current Address on February 17, 2017. 23 To date, Plaintiff has not responded to the OSC. However, on February 28, 2017, the copy 24 of the January 31, 2017 order that the Clerk mailed to Plaintiff at the Current Address was 25 returned as undeliverable. Similarly, on March 7, 2017, the copy of the OSC that the Clerk mailed 26 to Plaintiff at the Current Address was returned as undeliverable. 27 // 28 // 2 1 II. LEGAL STANDARD Local Rule 110 provides that the “[f]ailure of counsel or of a party to comply with these 2 3 [Local] Rules or with any order of the Court may be grounds for imposition by the Court of any 4 and all sanctions authorized by statute or Rule or within the inherent power of the Court.” 5 “District courts have inherent power to control their dockets” and “[i]n the exercise of that power 6 they may impose sanctions including, where appropriate, . . . dismissal.” Thompson v. Hous. 7 Auth. of City of L.A., 782 F.2d 829, 831 (9th Cir. 1986) (citing Link v. Wabash R.R. Co., 370 U.S. 8 626 (1961)). “Dismissal . . . is so harsh a penalty it should be imposed as a sanction only in 9 extreme circumstances.” Id. (citations omitted). Nonetheless, courts have found that dismissal 10 with prejudice is warranted where a party fails “to prosecute an action,” “obey a court order,” or 11 “comply with local rules.” Tolle v. Portfolio Recovery Assocs. LLC, Case No. 1:15-cv-0179712 LJO-SKO, 2017 WL 1079786, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 21, 2017) (collecting cases). The Ninth Circuit has stated that “[c]ourts are to weigh” the following “five factors in 13 14 deciding whether to dismiss a case for failure to comply with a court order”: (1) “the public’s 15 interest in expeditious resolution of litigation,” (2) “the court’s need to manage its docket,” (3) 16 “the risk of prejudice to the defendants,” (4) “the public policy favoring disposition of cases on 17 their merits,” and (5) “the availability of less drastic sanctions.” In re Phenylpropanolamine 18 (PPA) Prods. Liab. Litig., 460 F.3d 1217, 1226 (9th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted). “These factors 19 are ‘not a series of conditions precedent before the judge can do anything,’ but a ‘way for a district 20 judge to think about what to do.’” Id. (quoting Valley Eng’rs Inc. v. Elec. Eng’g Co., 158 F.3d 21 1051, 1057 (9th Cir. 1998)). “The appropriateness of a sanction is within the discretion of the 22 [c]ourt.” Raygoza v. City of Fresno, 297 F.R.D. 603, 606 (E.D. Cal. 2014). 23 III. DISCUSSION In the present matter, the pertinent factors weigh in favor of dismissing this action.1 24 25 Turning initially to the first factor, the public’s interest in expeditious resolution of litigation 26 27 28 1 As noted above, the copies of the undersigned’s January 31, 2017 order and the OSC that the Clerk mailed to Plaintiff at his Current Address were returned as undeliverable. Local Rule 183(b) provides the following pertinent guidance in this situation: 3 1 clearly weighs in favor of dismissal. Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate any interest in litigating 2 this case. Indeed, this matter is currently not on a schedule because Plaintiff failed to (1) comply 3 with the undersigned’s December 22, 2016 order directing the parties to file a joint scheduling 4 report, or (2) appear at the January 31, 2017 scheduling conference. As such, there is no 5 indication that Plaintiff will litigate this action to achieve any form of merits-based resolution, let 6 alone an expeditious resolution of the litigation. The first factor thus weighs in favor of dismissal. 7 See, e.g., Yourish v. Cal. Amplifier, 191 F.3d 983, 990 (9th Cir. 1999) (“[T]he public’s interest in 8 expeditious resolution of litigation always favors dismissal.”). 9 Regarding the second factor, Plaintiff has hindered the Court’s ability to manage its docket 10 by failing to (1) comply with the undersigned’s orders pertaining to crafting a scheduling order for 11 this matter, or (2) respond to the undersigned’s January 31, 2017 order or the OSC. This factor 12 therefore weighs in favor of dismissal. See, e.g., Armstrong v. Spearman, No. 1:13–cv–00246– 13 AWI–SAB (PC), 2015 WL 5021664, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 21, 2015) (“[T]he Eastern District of 14 California is one of the busiest federal jurisdictions in the United States and its District Judges 15 carry the heaviest caseloads in the nation, [so] the [c]ourt’s interest in managing its docket weighs 16 in favor of terminating the action.”); cf. Gonzales v. Mills, No. 1:09–cv–1549 AWI DLB, 2011 17 WL 976713, at *5 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 16, 2011) (noting that courts in this District carry “overly 18 congested” dockets “and stalled cases due to a lack of prosecution aggravate the situation”). 19 As to the third factor, Defendants will suffer substantial prejudice if they are forced to 20 continue litigating this case without the involvement of Plaintiff, as any resolution may be 21 impossible. Cf. In re Phenylpropanolamine, 460 F.3d at 1227 (“A defendant suffers prejudice if 22 the plaintiff’s actions impair the defendant’s ability to go to trial or threaten to interfere with the 23 24 25 A party appearing in propria persona shall keep the Court and opposing parties advised as to his or her current address. If mail directed to a plaintiff in propria persona by the Clerk is returned by the U.S. Postal Service, and if such plaintiff fails to notify the Court and opposing parties within sixtythree (63) days thereafter of a current address, the Court may dismiss the action without prejudice for failure to prosecute. 26 27 28 Here, the Clerk mailed these orders to Plaintiff at the only current address Plaintiff provided in this case and there is no indication on the docket for this matter that Plaintiff may receive these orders at any other location. Additionally, the undersigned waited the requisite sixty-three days before issuing these findings and recommendation. As such, the Court may dismiss this action without prejudice even though the undersigned’s January 31, 2017 order and the OSC were returned as undeliverable. See E.D. Cal. Local Rule 183(b). 4 1 rightful decision of the case.” (citations omitted)). Consequently this factor also weighs in favor 2 of dismissal. See, e.g., id. (“The law . . . presumes prejudice from unreasonable delay.” (citations 3 omitted)). 4 Turning next to the fifth factor, Plaintiff failed to respond to the OSC despite the 5 undersigned’s clear warning regarding the dispositive consequences of inaction. (See Doc. 27 at 6 2.) Plaintiff’s failure to respond to the OSC is itself sufficient to satisfy this factor. See, e.g., In re 7 Phenylpropanolamine, 460 F.3d at 1229 (“Warning that failure to obey a court order will result in 8 dismissal can itself meet the consideration of alternatives requirement.” (citations omitted)). As 9 such, the fifth factor similarly weighs in favor of dismissal. 10 Finally, the public policy favoring disposition of cases on their merits weighs against a 11 dismissal for reasons disassociated with the merits of this action. See, e.g., In re Sucato, 152 F.3d 12 929, at *1 (9th Cir. 1998) (noting the “strong public policy favoring disposition of cases on their 13 merits”); Eitel v. McCool, 782 F.2d 1470, 1472 (9th Cir. 1986) (“Cases should be decided upon 14 their merits whenever reasonably possible.” (citing Pena v. Seguros La Comercial, S.A., 770 F.2d 15 811, 814 (9th Cir. 1985))). However, the policy favoring disposition of cases on their merits is 16 outweighed by the other four factors in favor of dismissal. See, e.g., Leon v. IDX Sys. Corp., 464 17 F.3d 951, 960–61 (9th Cir. 2006) (stating that “the public policy favoring disposition of cases on 18 their merits, . . . standing alone, is not sufficient to outweigh the other four factors” (citation 19 omitted)); Winters v. Jordan, No. 2:09–cv–0522–JAM–KJN PS, 2013 WL 5780819, at *10 (E.D. 20 Cal. Oct. 25, 2013) (“Dismissal is proper ‘where at least four factors support dismissal or where at 21 least three factors strongly support dismissal.’” (quoting Hernandez v. City of El Monte, 138 F.3d 22 393, 399 (9th Cir. 1998))). The undersigned therefore finds that dismissal of this case is 23 warranted. 24 25 IV. CONCLUSION For the foregoing reasons, the undersigned RECOMMENDS that the presiding district 26 court judge DISMISS this action WITHOUT PREJUDICE. 27 These Findings and Recommendation shall be submitted to the United States District Court 28 Judge assigned to this case pursuant to the provisions of Title 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(l). Within 5 1 twenty-one (21) days after being served with these Findings and Recommendation, the parties 2 may file written objections with the Court. E.D. Cal. Local Rule 304(b). Any written objections 3 to these Findings and Recommendation should be captioned “Objections to Magistrate Judge’s 4 Findings and Recommendation.” The parties are advised that failure to file objections within the 5 specified time may result in the waiver of rights on appeal. Wilkerson v. Wheeler, 772 F.3d 834, 6 839 (9th Cir. 2014) (citing Baxter v. Sullivan, 923 F.2d 1391, 1394 (9th Cir. 1991)). 7 8 IT IS SO ORDERED. 9 Dated: 10 May 11, 2017 /s/ Sheila K. Oberto UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 6 .

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