Williams v. Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner et al
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS of the Magistrate Judge that the Court DISMISS re 1 Complaint, without prejudice and DIRECT the Clerk to enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal and to CLOSE this case. The Court ORDERS any party seeking to object to this Report and Recommendation to file specific written objections within fourteen (14) days of the date on which this Report and Recommendation is entered (Objections to R&R due by 7/3/2017). I further RECOMMEND that the Court DENY Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal. ORDER directing service of the REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION of the Magistrate Judge. Signed by Magistrate Judge R. Stan Baker on 6/19/2017. (ca)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
CIVIL ACTION NO.: 6:16-cv-106
GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF
CORRECTIONS COMMISSIONER; DR.
CHEN; ENDOCRINOLOGIST 2-DR. X; DR.
ALETA GARDNER; P.A. COOPER;
CHRONIC CARE NURSE X; DEPUTY
WARDEN SMITH; TERRI YARBROUGH;
SMITH STATE PRISON HEALTH CARE
SERVICES; LIBRARIAN X; and SGT.
NOVY, all in their individual and official
ORDER and MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff’s failure to comply with the Court’s
Order of April 26, 2017, to file an appropriate Amended Complaint. (Doc. 22.) For the reasons
set forth below, I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS Plaintiff’s Complaint, (doc. 1), without
prejudice for Plaintiff’s failure to follow this Court’s Orders and failure to prosecute and
DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case. I also RECOMMEND the Court DENY
Plaintiff leave to appeal in forma pauperis.
In his Complaint, Plaintiff attempted to assert a myriad of conditions of confinement
claims on behalf of several other inmates. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff also moved to proceed in forma
pauperis in this Court. (Doc. 2.) In granting Plaintiff’s Motion, the Court informed Plaintiff that
the other inmates listed as Plaintiffs in his Complaint could not proceed together in this cause of
action. (Doc. 5, p. 1 n.1.) The Court then informed Plaintiff that the allegations in his Complaint
were unrelated to each other.
Specifically, the Court advised Plaintiff that his deliberate
indifference to serious medical needs, religious infringement, lack of access to legal materials,
and understaffing claims were not related to each other. (Doc. 14, p. 4.) The Court provided
Plaintiff with the opportunity to amend his Complaint and deferred conducting the requisite
frivolity review until Plaintiff submitted his Amended Complaint. (Id.) The Court provided
instructions to Plaintiff as to how to amend his Complaint properly. Additionally, the Court
forewarned Plaintiff that his failure to file an appropriate Amended Complaint could result in the
dismissal of this action for failure to prosecute and failure to follow this Court’s Orders. (Id. at
pp. 4–5 (citing Smith v. Owens, 625 F. App’x 924, 928 (11th Cir. 2015) (upholding this Court’s
dismissal for failure to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20(a)); Brown v.
Tallahassee Police Dep’t, 205 F. App’x 802, 802 (11th Cir. 2006) (upholding dismissal for
failure to prosecute Section 1983 claims where plaintiff failed to follow court order to file
amended complaint and court had informed plaintiff that noncompliance could lead to
dismissal).) The Court granted the portion of Plaintiff’s Motion for miscellaneous relief in
which Plaintiff sought an extension of time to file an Amended Complaint. (Doc. 15, p. 4.) The
Court directed Plaintiff to file an Amended Complaint within twenty-one (21) days of its Order.
Plaintiff then filed another Motion for Extension of Time to file his Amended Complaint.
(Doc. 20.) On April 26, 2017, the Court granted Plaintiff’s Motion and provided him with an
additional thirty (30) days in which to file a proper Amended Complaint. The Court laid out
specific instructions to Plaintiff as to how he should amend his Complaint and as to the content
of his Amended Complaint. (Doc. 22.) However, the Court warned Plaintiff that any future
motions for extension of time might not be granted except upon a showing of good cause. (Id. at
The Court also forewarned Plaintiff that his failure to submit a proper Amended
Complaint could result in the dismissal of this cause of action based on his failure to follow a
Court Order and failure to prosecute. (Id.) The Clerk of Court mailed that Order to Plaintiff at
his listed address. That Order was not returned to the Court, and the Court has received no
notification that this Order did not otherwise reach Plaintiff.
Instead, Plaintiff filed a pleading objecting to the Magistrate Judge’s exercise of
jurisdiction. (Doc. 23.) Plaintiff maintains that the Magistrate Judge has acted in collusion with
the Defendants because no frivolity review of his Complaint has been had. (Id. at p. 2.) Plaintiff
also states he has not consented to the Magistrate Judge’s jurisdiction. 1 (Id. at p. 3.)
The Court must now determine how to address Plaintiff’s failure to comply with this
Court’s directive. For the reasons set forth below, I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS
Plaintiff’s Complaint without prejudice and DENY Plaintiff leave to appeal in forma pauperis.
Dismissal for Failure to Prosecute and Failure to Follow this Court’s Order
A district court may dismiss a plaintiff’s claims sua sponte pursuant to either Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) (“Rule 41(b)”), or the court’s inherent authority to manage its
The Magistrate Judge has the power to hear matters by statute and as assigned by the presiding District
Judge. 28 U.S.C. § 636. Nothing in this statute requires a prisoner-plaintiff to consent to a Magistrate
Judge conducting initial frivolity reviews of complaints or entering orders on non-dispositive matters.
Thus, the Court OVERRULES Plaintiff’s “Objection”. Additionally, the reason the Court has not
conducted the requisite frivolity review of Plaintiff’s Complaint is that Plaintiff has failed to abide by the
Court’s directives to file a proper Amended Complaint.
docket. Link v. Wabash R.R. Co., 370 U.S. 626 (1962); 2 Coleman v. St. Lucie Cty. Jail, 433 F.
App’x 716, 718 (11th Cir. 2011) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b) and Betty K Agencies, Ltd. v. M/V
MONADA, 432 F.3d 1333, 1337 (11th Cir. 2005)). In particular, Rule 41(b) allows for the
involuntary dismissal of a plaintiff’s claims where he has failed to prosecute those claims,
comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or local rules, or follow a court order. Fed. R.
Civ. P. 41(b); see also Coleman, 433 F. App’x at 718; Sanders v. Barrett, No. 05-12660, 2005
WL 2640979, at *1 (11th Cir. Oct. 17, 2005) (citing Kilgo v. Ricks, 983 F.2d 189, 192 (11th Cir.
1993)); cf. Local R. 41.1(b) (“[T]he assigned Judge may, after notice to counsel of record, sua
sponte . . . dismiss any action for want of prosecution, with or without prejudice[,] . . . [based on]
willful disobedience or neglect of any order of the Court.” (emphasis omitted)). Additionally, a
district court’s “power to dismiss is an inherent aspect of its authority to enforce its orders and
ensure prompt disposition of lawsuits.” Brown v. Tallahassee Police Dep’t, 205 F. App’x 802,
802 (11th Cir. 2006) (quoting Jones v. Graham, 709 F.2d 1457, 1458 (11th Cir. 1983)).
It is true that dismissal with prejudice for failure to prosecute is a “sanction . . . to be
utilized only in extreme situations” and requires that a court “(1) conclud[e] a clear record of
delay or willful contempt exists; and (2) mak[e] an implicit or explicit finding that lesser
sanctions would not suffice.” Thomas v. Montgomery Cty. Bd. of Educ., 170 F. App’x 623,
625–26 (11th Cir. 2006) (quoting Morewitz v. West of Eng. Ship Owners Mut. Prot. & Indem.
Ass’n (Lux.), 62 F.3d 1356, 1366 (11th Cir. 1995)); see also Taylor v. Spaziano, 251 F. App’x
616, 619 (11th Cir. 2007) (citing Morewitz, 62 F.3d at 1366). By contrast, dismissal without
prejudice for failure to prosecute is not an adjudication on the merits, and, therefore, courts are
In Wabash, the Court held that a trial court may dismiss an action for failure to prosecute “even without
affording notice of its intention to do so.” 370 U.S. at 633. However, in this case, Plaintiff was
forewarned that his failure to file an appropriate Amended Complaint could result in the dismissal of his
cause of action for failure to prosecute and failure to follow this Court’s Orders. (Doc. 22, p. 4.)
afforded greater discretion in dismissing claims in this manner. Taylor, 251 F. App’x at 619;
see also Coleman, 433 F. App’x at 719; Brown, 205 F. App’x at 802–03.
While the Court exercises its discretion to dismiss cases with caution, dismissal of this
action without prejudice is warranted. See Coleman, 433 F. App’x at 719 (upholding dismissal
without prejudice for failure to prosecute Section 1983 complaint, where plaintiff did not
respond to court order to supply defendant’s current address for purpose of service); Taylor, 251
F. App’x at 620–21 (upholding dismissal without prejudice for failure to prosecute because
plaintiffs insisted on going forward with deficient amended complaint rather than complying, or
seeking an extension of time to comply, with court’s order to file second amended complaint);
Brown, 205 F. App’x at 802–03 (upholding dismissal without prejudice for failure to prosecute
Section 1983 claims, where plaintiff failed to follow court order to file amended complaint and
court had informed plaintiff that noncompliance could lead to dismissal). With Plaintiff having
failed to file an Amended Complaint setting forth claims that arose from the same transaction or
occurrence or series of related transactions or occurrences, the Court is unable to move forward
with this case. Additionally, Plaintiff was given ample time to follow the Court’s directives, and
Plaintiff has not made any effort to do so or to inform the Court as to why he cannot comply with
its directives. Indeed, the only action Plaintiff has taken in response to the Court’s Order is to
file his Objection to the Magistrate Judge’s exercise of jurisdiction.
Thus, I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS without prejudice Plaintiff’s Complaint,
(doc. 1), for failure to prosecute and failure to follow this Court’s Order and DIRECT the Clerk
of Court to CLOSE this case.
Leave to Appeal in Forma Pauperis
The Court should also deny Plaintiff leave to appeal in forma pauperis. Though Plaintiff
has, of course, not yet filed a notice of appeal, it is proper to address these issues in the Court’s
order of dismissal. See Fed. R. App. P. 24(a)(3) (trial court may certify that appeal of party
proceeding in forma pauperis is not taken in good faith “before or after the notice of appeal is
An appeal cannot be taken in forma pauperis if the trial court certifies that the appeal is
not taken in good faith. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3); Fed. R. App. P. 24(a)(3). Good faith in this
context must be judged by an objective standard. Busch v. Cty. of Volusia, 189 F.R.D. 687, 691
(M.D. Fla. 1999). A party does not proceed in good faith when he seeks to advance a frivolous
claim or argument. See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 445 (1962). A claim or
argument is frivolous when it appears the factual allegations are clearly baseless or the legal
theories are indisputably meritless. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989); Carroll v.
Gross, 984 F.2d 392, 393 (11th Cir. 1993). Stated another way, an in forma pauperis action is
frivolous and, thus, not brought in good faith, if it is “without arguable merit either in law or
fact.” Napier v. Preslicka, 314 F.3d 528, 531 (11th Cir. 2002); see also Brown v. United States,
Nos. 407CV085, 403CR001, 2009 WL 307872, at *1–2 (S.D. Ga. Feb. 9, 2009).
Based on the above analysis of Plaintiff’s action, there are no non-frivolous issues to
raise on appeal, and an appeal would not be taken in good faith. Thus, the Court should DENY
Plaintiff in forma pauperis status on appeal.
For the above-stated reasons, I RECOMMEND that the Court DISMISS this action
without prejudice and DIRECT the Clerk of Court to enter the appropriate judgment of
dismissal and to CLOSE this case. I further RECOMMEND that the Court DENY Plaintiff
leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.
The Court ORDERS any party seeking to object to this Report and Recommendation to
file specific written objections within fourteen (14) days of the date on which this Report and
Recommendation is entered. Any objections asserting that the Magistrate Judge failed to address
any contention raised in the Complaint must also be included. Failure to do so will bar any later
challenge or review of the factual findings or legal conclusions of the Magistrate Judge. See 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985). A copy of the objections must be
served upon all other parties to the action. The filing of objections is not a proper vehicle
through which to make new allegations or present additional evidence.
Upon receipt of Objections meeting the specificity requirement set out above, a United
States District Judge will make a de novo determination of those portions of the report, proposed
findings, or recommendation to which objection is made and may accept, reject, or modify in
whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the Magistrate Judge. Objections not
meeting the specificity requirement set out above will not be considered by a District Judge. A
party may not appeal a Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation directly to the United
States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Appeals may be made only from a final
judgment entered by or at the direction of a District Judge.
The Court DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to serve a copy of this Report and
Recommendation upon Plaintiff.
SO ORDERED and REPORTED and RECOMMENDED, this 19th day of June,
R. STAN BAKER
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?