Shaughnessy v. Wellcare Health Insurance, Inc.
ORDER DISMISSING CASE - Signed by JUDGE DERRICK K. WATSON on 3/21/2017. "On the basis of the foregoing, the Court DISMISSES this action without prejudice and directs the Clerk of Court to close this case." (emt, )CERTIFICATE OF SERVICEParticipants registered to receive electronic notifications received this document electronically at the e-mail address listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF). Participants not registered to receive electronic notifications were served by first class mail on the date of this docket entry
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF HAWAI‘I
CIVIL NO. 16-00635 DKW-KSC
ORDER DISMISSING CASE
WELLCARE HEALTH INSURANCE
INC. dba OHANA HEALTH PLAN,
ORDER DISMISSING CASE
Plaintiff Brian Shaughnessy, proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint against
WellCare Health Insurance, Inc., dba Ohana Health Plan (“Ohana”), alleging claims
for violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, breach of contract, and emotional distress based
on the denial of medical services and benefits under his Medicaid plan administered
by Ohana. In a February 16, 2017 Order, the Court granted Ohana’s Motion to
Dismiss the Complaint, but granted Shaughnessy limited leave to file an amended
complaint in accordance with the terms of the Court’s Order by no later than March
17, 2017. Dkt. No. 18 (2/16/17 Order). Shaughnessy has yet to file an amended
complaint or respond to the Court’s February 16, 2017 Order in any other fashion.
As a result, this action is dismissed without prejudice.
Courts have the authority to dismiss actions for failure to prosecute or for
failure to comply with court orders. See Link v. Wabash R.R. Co., 370 U.S. 626,
629-31 (1962) (“The power to invoke this sanction is necessary in order to prevent
undue delays in the disposition of pending cases and to avoid congestion in the
calendars of the District Courts.”). The Court has discretion to dismiss a plaintiff’s
action for failure to comply with an order requiring him to file an amended pleading
within a specified time period. Pagtalunan v. Galaza, 291 F.3d 639, 640 (9th Cir.
2002). Before dismissing an action for failure to prosecute, the Court must weigh:
“(1) the public’s interest in expeditious resolution of litigation; (2) the court’s need
to manage its docket; (3) the risk of prejudice to defendants/respondents; (4) the
availability of less drastic alternatives; and (5) the public policy favoring disposition
of cases on their merits.” Id. at 642 (citing Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258,
1260-61 (9th Cir. 1992)).
Upon careful consideration of these factors, the Court concludes that
dismissal is warranted under the circumstances. The Court’s February 16, 2017
Order was clear:
The Court GRANTS Shaughnessy leave to file an amended
complaint, consistent with the terms of this Order, by March 17,
2017. He is granted limited leave to attempt to cure the
deficiencies noted above with respect to Count I (Section 1983);
Count II (breach of contract); and Count III (emotional distress
claims—NIED and/or IIED).
Claims dismissed with prejudice may not be re-alleged in an
amended complaint. Claims dismissed without prejudice that
are not re-alleged in an amended complaint may be deemed
voluntarily dismissed. . . . The amended complaint must
designate that it is the “First Amended Complaint” and may not
incorporate any part of the original Complaint. Rather, any
specific allegations must be retyped or rewritten in their entirety.
Failure to file an amended complaint by March 17, 2017 will
result in automatic dismissal of this action without prejudice.
For the foregoing reasons, Ohana’s Motion to Dismiss is
GRANTED. Shaughnessy is granted limited leave to file an
amended complaint, consistent with the terms of this Order.
Shaughnessy is cautioned that failure to file an amended
complaint by March 17, 2017 will result in dismissal of this
action without prejudice.
2/16/17 Order at 16-17.
Shaughnessy’s failure to comply with the Court’s Order hinders the Court’s
ability to move this case forward and indicates that he does not intend to litigate this
action diligently. See Yourish v. California Amplifier, 191 F.3d 983, 990 (9th Cir.
1999) (“The public’s interest in expeditious resolution of litigation always favors
dismissal.”). This factor favors dismissal.
The risk of prejudice to a defendant is related to a plaintiff’s reason for failure
to prosecute an action. See Pagtalunan, 291 F.3d at 642 (citing Yourish, 191 F.3d
at 991). Shaughnessy offers no excuse or explanation for his failure to file a First
Amended Complaint. When a party offers a poor excuse (or, in this case, no
excuse) for failing to comply with a court’s order, the prejudice to the opposing
party is sufficient to favor dismissal. See Yourish, 191 F.3d at 991-92. This factor
Public policy favoring the disposition of cases on their merits ordinarily
weighs against dismissal. However, it is the responsibility of the moving party to
prosecute the action at a reasonable pace and to refrain from dilatory and evasive
tactics. See Morris v. Morgan Stanley & Co., 942 F.2d 648, 652 (9th Cir. 1991).
Shaughnessy failed to discharge his responsibility to prosecute this action despite
the Court’s express warnings about dismissal in its prior order. See 2/16/17 Order
Under these circumstances, the public policy favoring the resolution of
disputes on the merits does not outweigh Shaughnessy’s failure to file an amended
complaint, as directed by the Court in its February 16, 2017 Order.
The Court attempted to avoid outright dismissal of this action by granting
Shaughnessy the opportunity to amend his allegations and providing specific
guidance on how to do so. See Henderson v. Duncan, 779 F.2d 1421, 1424 (9th
Cir. 1986) (“The district court need not exhaust every sanction short of dismissal
before finally dismissing a case, but must explore possible and meaningful
alternatives.”). Alternatives to dismissal are not adequate here, given
Shaughnessy’s voluntary failure to comply with the Court’s Order. Under the
present circumstances, less drastic alternatives are not appropriate. The Court
acknowledges that the public policy favoring disposition of cases on their merits
weighs against dismissal. On balance, however, because four factors favor
dismissal, this factor is outweighed.
On the basis of the foregoing, the Court DISMISSES this action without
prejudice and directs the Clerk of Court to close this case.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: March 21, 2017 at Honolulu, Hawai‘i.
Shaughnessy v. Wellcare Health Ins. Inc., CV NO. 16-00635 DKW-KSC; ORDER
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