Zuzick v. Commissioner of Social Security
ORDER DISMISSING CASE. For the reasons set forth in the attached Order, the Court DISMISSES, without prejudice, plaintiff's 1 Complaint. Signed by Judge Sarah A. L. Merriam on 10/10/2019. (Katz, S.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
ROBYN ELLEN ZUZICK
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL
Civ. No. 3:19CV00539(SALM)
October 10, 2019
ORDER OF DISMISSAL
On April 11, 2019, the self-represented plaintiff Robyn
Ellen Zuzick (“plaintiff”) filed a Complaint for Review of
Social Security Administration Decision. [Doc. #1]. For the
reasons that follow, the Court DISMISSES, without prejudice,
plaintiff’s Complaint [Doc. #1] for failure to prosecute and
failure to comply with the Court’s orders.
Plaintiff filed the Complaint in this matter on April 11,
2019, using a form Social Security Complaint. See Doc. #1,
Complaint. Simultaneously therewith, plaintiff also filed a
motion seeking leave to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. #2],
which the Court granted on April 11, 2019 [Doc. #7].
In May 2019, the parties consented to the jurisdiction of a
United States Magistrate Judge. See Docs. #11, #13, #14. On May
23, 2019, this case was transferred to the undersigned. [Doc.
#14]. On June 10, 2019, defendant Commissioner of Social
Security (“defendant”) filed the Social Security Transcripts.
[Doc. #16]. On that same date, the Court entered its
Supplemental Scheduling Order, requiring plaintiff to file her
motion to reverse and/or remand by August 9, 2019. See Doc. #17
at 1. A copy of the Court’s Supplemental Scheduling Order was
sent to plaintiff by United States Mail on June 11, 2019.
Plaintiff failed to file her motion to reverse and/or
remand by August 9, 2019. As a result, on August 14, 2019, the
Court issued an Order to Show Cause why this matter should not
be dismissed for plaintiff’s failure to prosecute. [Doc. #18].
The Court ordered that plaintiff file a response to the Court’s
Order to Show Cause on or before August 30, 2019. See id. A copy
of the Court’s Order to Show Cause was sent to plaintiff by
United States Mail on August 14, 2019.
On September 3, 2019, presumably in response to the Court’s
Order to Show Cause, plaintiff filed a motion seeking an
extension until October 29, 2019, to file her motion to reverse
and/or remand. See Doc. #19. On September 4, 2019, the Court
granted plaintiff’s motion, in part, and ordered that plaintiff
file her motion on or before September 30, 2019. See Doc. #20.
Because plaintiff represented that she was trying to secure
counsel, see Doc. #19 at 1, the Court noted: “In the event that
plaintiff is unable to secure counsel, then plaintiff will be
responsible for preparing and submitting her motion to reverse
and/or remand by September 30, 2019. Should plaintiff fail to
file her motion to reverse and/or remand by September 30, 2019,
this case may be dismissed.” Doc. #20. A copy of the Court’s
September 4, 2019, Order was sent to plaintiff by United States
Mail on September 6, 2019.
To date, plaintiff has failed to file any motion to reverse
“A district court has the inherent power to dismiss a case
... for lack of prosecution pursuant to Rule 41(b) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Supreme Court explained
that such authority is governed by the control necessarily
vested in courts to manage their own affairs so as to achieve
the orderly and expeditious disposition of cases.” Reynel v.
Barnhart, No. 01CV6482(RLE), 2002 WL 2022429, at *1 (S.D.N.Y.
Sept. 3, 2002) (citation and quotation marks omitted). “Although
not explicitly authorized by Rule 41(b), a court may dismiss a
complaint for failure to prosecute sua sponte.” Zappin v. Doyle,
756 F. App’x 110, 111–12 (2d Cir. 2019).
“Rule 41(b) recognizes the district courts’ power to
dismiss a complaint for failure of the plaintiff to comply with
a court order, treating noncompliance as a failure to prosecute.
Courts have repeatedly found that dismissal of an action is
warranted when a litigant, whether represented or instead
proceeding pro se, fails to comply with legitimate court
directives.” Bonnette v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 16CV6398(ENV),
2018 WL 6173434, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 26, 2018). When
considering whether to dismiss an action for failure to
prosecute, courts generally consider the following five factors:
“(1) the duration of the plaintiff’s failure to comply
with the court order, (2) whether plaintiff was on notice
that failure to comply would result in dismissal, (3)
whether the defendants are likely to be prejudiced by
further delay in the proceedings, (4) a balancing of the
court’s interest in managing its docket with the
plaintiff’s interest in receiving a fair chance to be
heard, and (5) whether the judge has adequately
considered a sanction less drastic than dismissal.”
Lucas v. Miles, 84 F.3d 532, 535 (2d Cir. 1996). No
Connecticut Dep’t of Envtl. Prot., 16 F.3d 482, 485 (2d
Baptiste v. Sommers, 768 F.3d 212, 216 (2d Cir. 2014); accord
Rozell v. Berryhill, No. 18CV969(AJN)(JLC), 2019 WL 1320514, at
*1–2 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 25, 2019).
A consideration of the foregoing factors weighs in favor of
dismissal. First, plaintiff’s non-compliance with the Court’s
orders continues. Although the length of plaintiff’s noncompliance is not the most egregious that this Court has
encountered, it is nevertheless significant as it has entirely
stalled this case from proceeding. Plaintiff’s motion to reverse
and/or remand was originally due two months ago on August 9,
2019. See Doc. #17 at 1. Although the Court partially granted
plaintiff’s request for an extension of that filing deadline,
plaintiff has failed to comply with that extended deadline.
Next, the Court considers whether plaintiff had been
adequately warned that dismissal of this action was a
possibility given her failure to prosecute and general noncompliance with Court orders. Plaintiff was warned of the
possibility of dismissal in the Court’s August 14, 2019, Order
to Show Cause. See Doc. #18. Plaintiff was also explicitly
warned in the Court’s Order granting her motion for extension of
time that if she failed to file her motion to reverse and/or
remand by September 30, 2019, that her case could be dismissed.
See Doc. #20. Thus, plaintiff was placed on notice that her case
was at risk of dismissal on two occasions.
Third, the Court considers whether a further delay in these
proceedings would result in prejudice to defendant. The delay
thus far has prejudiced both the Court and defendant. A further
delay would “merely leave a stagnant case on the docket, without
providing relief to [plaintiff] or repose to the Commissioner.”
Bonnette, 2018 WL 6173434, at *2; see also Lomack v. Comm’r of
Soc. Sec., No. 18CV6083(FPG), 2019 WL 132741, at *2 (W.D.N.Y.
Jan. 8, 2019) (“The Court also finds Plaintiff’s inaction
prejudicial to the Commissioner. The Commissioner has an
interest in the timely resolution of this case, as the Social
Security Administration is significantly overburdened with
applications and appeals.”).
Fourth, “although the Court recognizes Plaintiff’s interest
in receiving a fair chance to be heard, it must also consider
the heavy demands of its docket, especially in the Social
Security context[.]” Lomack, 2019 WL 132741, at *2. This case is
nearly six months old, “yet it is not fully briefed or ready for
the Court to rule on its merits.” Id. The Court has afforded
plaintiff several opportunities to be heard, but thus far,
plaintiff has declined to prosecute this action or to otherwise
comply with the Court’s orders.
Finally, the Court considers the efficacy of lesser
sanctions. Here, the Court has granted plaintiff’s motion to
proceed in this matter without the payment of fees and costs.
[Doc. #7]. Given plaintiff’s in forma pauperis status,
“[m]onetary sanctions cannot be relied on because the plaintiff
is indigent.” Bhatia v. Pitney Bowes, Inc., No. 3:04CV1484(RNC),
2006 WL 2661143, at *1 (D. Conn. Sept. 14, 2006). The Court can
otherwise “think of no alternative that would be less drastic
yet still effective[,]” as would the sanction of dismissal. Id.;
see also Bonnette, 2018 WL 6173434, at *2 (“[N]o sanction short
of dismissal would be effective. A monetary sanction would be
inappropriate, given Bonnette’s in forma pauperis status.”);
Neal v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 18CV01936(VEC)(SN), 2019 WL
3402464, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. June 5, 2019) (“[T]here are no lesser
sanctions — such as a monetary fine — practicable here given
that Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis and pro
se.”), report and recommendation adopted, 2019 WL 2710127 (June
“[A]ll litigants, including pro ses, have an obligation to
comply with court orders. When they flout that obligation they
... must suffer the consequences of their actions.” Baba v.
Japan Travel Bureau Int’l, Inc., 111 F.3d 2, 5 (2d Cir. 1997)
(citation omitted). The Court finds that dismissal of this
matter is appropriate given plaintiff’s failure to prosecute and
failure to comply with the Court’s orders. See Reynel, 2002 WL
2022429, at *1; Bonette, 2018 WL 6173434, at *2. However,
because plaintiff is self-represented, “the Court deems it
proper in this case that dismissal be without prejudice.”
Reynel, 2002 WL 2022429, at *1; see also Rozell, 2019 WL
1320514, at *2 (“[D]ismissal without prejudice is appropriate in
order to strike the appropriate balance between the right to due
process and the need to clear the docket and avoid prejudice to
defendant by retaining open lawsuits with no activity.”
(citation and quotation marks omitted)).
Thus, for the reasons stated, the Court DISMISSES, without
prejudice, plaintiff’s Complaint [Doc. #1] for failure to
prosecute and failure to comply with the Court’s orders.
SO ORDERED at New Haven, Connecticut, this 10th day of
HON. SARAH A. L. MERRIAM
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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