WATTS v. PENSION BENEFIT GUARANTY CORPORATION et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on June 11, 2013. (lcegs2)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
BEATRICE E. WATTS,
PENSION BENEFIT GUARANTY
CORPORATION, et al.,
Civil Action No. 12-1542 (EGS)
Pending before the Court is defendant Pension Benefit
Guaranty Corporation’s (“PBGC”) motion to dismiss the complaint
for lack of prosecution pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
For the reasons explained below, defendant’s
motion is GRANTED.
Plaintiff Beatrice E. Watts filed this action in the United
States District Court for the District of New Jersey on September
The complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that
plaintiff is the rightful beneficiary of the surviving spouse
pension benefits of Monroe Watts, a deceased participant in the
Delphy Hourly-Rate Employees Pension Plan (the “Plan”).
the Court to compel PBGC to pay plaintiff surviving spouse
benefits and deny such benefits to defendant Ruby Manning, the
former spouse of Monroe Watts and to whom Mr. Watts was married at
the time of his retirement.
On September 17, 2012, the case was transferred to this Court
from the District of New Jersey.
On September 27, 2012, the Court
directed the parties to submit a joint status report, including a
recommendation for further proceedings.
On October 10, 2012, PBGC
filed a status report that was not signed by any other party,
stating that plaintiff’s counsel indicated he intended to withdraw
from the case and that plaintiff indicated she did not intend to
pursue the litigation further.
On November 8, 2012, PBCG filed
the pending motion to dismiss for lack of prosecution.
motion, PBGC argued that plaintiff had not appeared in the case
either through counsel or pro se, and that the case should be
dismissed pursuant to Rule 41(b).
Shortly after the motion to dismiss was filed, the Court
received a letter from plaintiff’s former counsel, Steven W.
Griegel, who had represented plaintiff prior to the transfer of
the case to this Court.
In the letter, Mr. Griegel indicated that
plaintiff intended to pursue the matter further but was having
difficulty obtaining counsel in the District of Columbia.
requested on plaintiff’s behalf that the motion be stayed until
February 1, 2013 to enable plaintiff to obtain legal counsel.
Court agreed, and entered an order on December 18, 2012 directing
plaintiff to enter her appearance in the case, either pro se or
through counsel, by February 1, 2013.
Plaintiff called the Court
on December 19, 2012 and asked that her case not be dismissed.
Plaintiff did not, however, enter an appearance either through
counsel or pro se by February 1, 2013.
Several months later, and
out of an abundance of caution, the Court entered a so-called
Fox/Neal Order on May 6, 2013 advising plaintiff that her failure
to respond to the pending motion to dismiss could result in the
dismissal of the case.
To date, plaintiff has not entered an
appearance in the case and has not responded to the motion to
Rule 41(b) provides that “[i]f the plaintiff fails to
prosecute or to comply with these rules or a court order, a
defendant may move to dismiss the action or any claim against it.”
Here, plaintiff has failed to appear in the case either pro se or
through counsel, though plaintiff is aware of the pending action
and has been warned twice by the Court that her failure to appear
in the case or respond to the motion to dismiss would result in
dismissal of her case.
Accordingly, the Court finds that it is
appropriate to dismiss plaintiff’s claims against PGBC pursuant to
Rule 41(b) for failure to prosecute.
The Court will also dismiss
plaintiff’s claims against defendant Ruby Manning for failure to
See Angelino v. Royal Family Al-Saud, 688 F.3d 771,
775 (D.C. Cir. 2012) (holding that district courts “have inherent
power to dismiss a case sua sponte for a plaintiff’s failure to
prosecute or otherwise comply with a court order.”).
appropriate Order accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.
Emmet G. Sullivan
United States District Judge
June 11, 2013
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