Pacheco v. Commissioner of Social Security

Filing 17

ORDER DISMISSING the Action with Prejudice for Plaintiff's Failure to Prosecute and Failure to Comply with the Court's Order, signed by Magistrate Judge Jennifer L. Thurston on 5/24/2017. CASE CLOSED. (Hall, S)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 MARIA NORMA RUIZ PACHECO, 12 Plaintiff, v. 13 14 NANCY A. BERRYHILL1, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, 15 Defendant. 16 17 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Case No.: 1:16-cv-00813 - JLT ORDER DISMISSING THE ACTION WITH PREJUDICE FOR PLAINTIFF’S FAILURE TO PROSECUTE AND FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE COURT’S ORDER Maria Norma Ruiz Pacheco initiated this action seeking judicial review of the administrative 18 decision to deny her application for Social Security benefits. However, Plaintiff failed to comply with 19 the Court’s orders and failed to prosecute this action by filing an opening brief. Accordingly, the action 20 is DISMISSED with prejudice. 21 I. 22 Background Maria Norma Ruiz Pacheco initiated this action by filing a complaint on June 10, 2016, seeking 23 judicial review of the decision to denying her application for Social Security benefits. (Doc. 1) On 24 June 20, 2016, the Court entered its Scheduling Order, setting forth the applicable deadlines. (Doc. 4) 25 Pursuant to the Scheduling Order, the parties exchanged confidential letter briefs, with Defendant 26 27 1 28 Nancy A. Berryhill is now the Acting Commissioner of Social Security. Pursuant to Rule 25(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court substitutes Nancy A. Berryhill for her predecessor, Carolyn W. Colvin, as the defendant. 1 1 serving the Commissioner’s response on April 5, 2017. (Docs. 14, 15) In the Court’s Scheduling Order, Plaintiff was ordered to file an opening brief addressing “each 2 3 claimed error” by the administrative law judge within thirty days of the date of service of the 4 Commissioner’s response. (See Doc. 4 at 2, explaining the applicable briefing deadlines) Accordingly, 5 Plaintiff was to file an opening brief in this action no later than May 5, 2017. (See id.) However, she 6 failed to file an opening brief, and did not request an extension of time. The Court issued an order to show cause on May 10, 2017, directing Plaintiff “to show cause 7 8 within ten days of the date of service of this Order why the action should not be dismissed for her 9 failure to prosecute or to follow the Court’s Order, or in the alternative to file an opening brief.” (Doc. 10 16 at 2) More than ten days have passed, Plaintiff has not responded to the order to show cause, or filed 11 an opening brief. 12 II. Failure to Prosecute and Obey the Court’s Orders The Local Rules, corresponding with Fed. R. Civ. P. 11, provide: “Failure of counsel or of a 13 14 party to comply with . . . any order of the Court may be grounds for the imposition by the Court of any 15 and all sanctions . . . within the inherent power of the Court.” Local Rule 110. “District courts have 16 inherent power to control their dockets,” and in exercising that power, a court may impose sanctions 17 including dismissal of an action. Thompson v. Housing Authority of Los Angeles, 782 F.2d 829, 831 18 (9th Cir. 1986). A court may dismiss an action with prejudice, based on a party’s failure to prosecute 19 an action or failure to obey a court order, or failure to comply with local rules. See, e.g. Ferdik v. 20 Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1260-61 (9th Cir. 1992) (dismissal for failure to comply with an order); 21 Malone v. U.S. Postal Service, 833 F.2d 128, 130 (9th Cir. 1987) (dismissal for failure to comply with 22 a court order); Henderson v. Duncan, 779 F.2d 1421, 1424 (9th Cir. 1986) (dismissal for failure to 23 prosecute and to comply with local rules). 24 III. 25 Discussion and Analysis To determine whether to dismiss an action for failure to prosecute and failure to obey a Court 26 order, the Court must consider several factors, including: “(1) the public’s interest in expeditious 27 resolution of litigation; (2) the court’s need to manage its docket; (3) the risk of prejudice to the 28 defendants; (4) the public policy favoring disposition of cases on their merits; and (5) the availability 2 1 of less drastic sanctions.” Henderson, 779 F.2d at 1423-24; see also Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 1260-61; 2 Thomspon, 782 F.2d at 831. 3 In the case at hand, the public’s interest in expeditiously resolving this litigation and the Court’s 4 interest in managing the docket weigh in favor of dismissal. See Yourish v. Cal. Amplifier, 191 F.3d 5 983, 990 (9th Cir. 1999) (“The public’s interest in expeditious resolution of litigation always favors 6 dismissal”); Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 1261 (recognizing that district courts have inherent interest in 7 managing their dockets without being subject to noncompliant litigants). This Court cannot, and will 8 not hold, this action in abeyance given Plaintiff’s failure to comply with the deadlines set forth by the 9 Court and failure to prosecute. See Morris v. Morgan Stanley & Co., 942 F.2d 648, 652 (9th Cir. 1991) 10 (explaining a plaintiff has the burden “to move toward... disposition at a reasonable pace”). The risk of 11 prejudice to the defendant also weighs in favor of dismissal, since a presumption of injury arises from 12 the occurrence of unreasonable delay in prosecution of an action. See Anderson v. Air West, 542 F.2d 13 522, 524 (9th Cir. 1976). 14 Notably, Plaintiff was warned that failure to comply with the scheduling order “may result in 15 sanctions.” (Doc. 4 at 4) In addition, in the Order to Show Cause, the Court reminded Plaintiff that an 16 action may be dismissed “based on a party’s failure to prosecute an action or failure to obey a court 17 order.” (Doc. 16 at 2) In addition, the Court advised: “If Plaintiff fails to comply with the deadline 18 as ordered, the Court will find that Plaintiff has abandoned the action, and dismiss the matter.” 19 (Id., emphasis in original) Thus, Plaintiff had adequate warning that dismissal would result from her 20 noncompliance with the Court’s orders and failure to prosecute the action by filing an opening brief, 21 and these warnings satisfy the requirement that the Court consider less drastic measures. Ferdik, 963 22 F.2d at 1262; Henderson, 779 F.2d at 1424. Indeed, the Court need only warn a party once that the 23 matter would be dismissed for failure to comply with its orders. Id.; see also Titus v. Mercedes Benz 24 of North America, 695 F.2d 746, 749 n.6 (3d Cir. 1982) (identifying a “warning” to a party is an 25 alternative sanction). 26 Given these facts, the policy favoring disposition of cases on their merits is outweighed by the 27 factors in favor of dismissal. See Malone, 833 F.2d at 133, n.2 (explaining that although “the public 28 policy favoring disposition of cases on their merits . . . weighs against dismissal, it is not sufficient to 3 1 outweigh the other four factors”). 2 IV. 3 Conclusion and Order Plaintiff failed to comply with the deadlines imposed by the Court, and failed to prosecute the 4 action by filing an opening brief. As set forth above, the factors set forth by the Ninth Circuit weigh in 5 favor of dismissal of the matter. Accordingly, the Court ORDERS: 6 1. Plaintiff’s complaint is DISMISSED with prejudice; and 7 2. The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to close this action, as this order terminates the 8 matter in its entirety. 9 10 11 12 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: May 24, 2017 /s/ Jennifer L. Thurston UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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