North v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc. et al
ORDER denying 87 Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Prosecution. Signed by District Judge Halil S. Ozerden on 11/17/2021. (lg)
Case 1:19-cv-00209-HSO-RHWR Document 94 Filed 11/17/21 Page 1 of 4
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
LAWRENCE ANDREW NORTH
BP EXPLORATION & PRODUCTION
INC., et al.
Civil No. 1:19cv209-HSO-RHWR
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT’S MOTION  TO DISMISS FOR LACK
BEFORE THE COURT is Defendant BP Exploration & Production, Inc.’s
Motion  to Dismiss for Lack of Prosecution. After due consideration of the
record, the related pleadings, and relevant legal authority, the Court is of the
opinion that the Defendant’s Motion  to Dismiss for Lack of Prosecution should
On November 5, 2018, Plaintiff Lawrence Andrew North filed a complaint
against BP Exploration & Production, Inc., and BP America Production Company
for personal injuries arising out of his work as a Cleanup Worker in the aftermath
of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Compl.  at 5. The case was transferred to this
Court on April 2, 2019. Order . After the Court entered a Case Management
Order , the parties began to conduct discovery, with Plaintiff’s initial expert
designation deadline set for September 1, 2020, and Defendant’s deadline set for
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November 2, 2020. Case Mgmt. Order . A full three months after Plaintiff’s
expert deadline had passed, on December 3, 2020, Plaintiff moved to modify the
Case Management Order, seeking additional time for him to designate a new
expert. Mot. . Ultimately, the Court accommodated his request, and he was
given until June 7, 2021, to designate his experts. Order .
Instead of finally designating his experts on that date, Plaintiff’s counsel filed
a Motion  to Withdraw as Attorney, stating that he had been unable to contact
Mr. North for weeks. Mot.  at 2. He also filed a Motion  to Stay Proceedings
and a Motion  to Stay Discovery, asking that the case be stayed for 45 days or
until Plaintiff could secure new counsel, whichever was sooner. Mot.  at 1.
On August 16, 2021, the Magistrate Judge entered an Order  granting
counsel’s Motion  to Withdraw and denying Plaintiff’s Motion  and Amended
Motion  to Stay Discovery. The Order gave a clear deadline of September 7,
2021, for Mr. North to either employ new counsel or inform the Court that he would
be proceeding pro se. Order  at 1. When that deadline passed, Defendant filed
the present Motion  to Dismiss for Lack of Prosecution. Defendant argues that
Plaintiff’s failure to follow the Court’s Order  amounts to a failure to prosecute,
and that the Court should enforce its warning that “[i]f Plaintiff fails to timely
comply, this case will be subject to dismissal.” Id.
On October 28, 2021, Plaintiff filed an untimely Response  to Defendant’s
Motion to Dismiss and a Notice  that he will proceed pro se. In their Reply ,
Defendants maintain that the case should be dismissed, but in the alternative
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request leave to file Daubert and dispositive motions beyond Defendant’s original
September 21, 2021, deadline.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41 allows a defendant to seek dismissal for
lack of prosecution. Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b); Link v. Wabash R.R. Co., 370 U.S. 626, 630
(1962). A dismissal under this Rule acts as an adjudication on the merits. Fed. R.
Civ. P. 41(b); see also Weissinger v. United States, 423 F.2d 795, 799 (5th Cir. 1970).
A district court may dismiss for a plaintiff’s failure to prosecute upon motion of a
defendant, or it may dismiss an action sua sponte whenever necessary to “achieve
the orderly and expeditious disposition of cases.” Link, 370 U.S. at 631. “Dismissal
with prejudice, however, is an extreme sanction which is warranted only where ‘a
clear record of delay or contumacious conduct by the plaintiff’ exists.’” Anthony v.
Marion Cty. Gen. Hosp., 617 F.2d 1164, 1167 (5th Cir. 1980) (citations omitted).
Pro se litigants are held to less stringent standards than licensed attorneys.
See Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). Courts will be “liberal in reviewing
pro se pleadings and motions, giving pro se plaintiffs opportunity to amend if
necessary, and granting extensions of time to comply with orders.” Badon v. U.S.
Dep’t of Agric., No. CV 20-460-BAJ-RLB, 2020 WL 5576694, at *2 (M.D. La. Sept.
In this case, Plaintiff has exhibited a record of delay by disregarding Court
deadlines multiple times. For example, he waited until almost three months after
his initial expert designation deadline to seek an extension of time to designate
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experts. Over Defendant’s objections, the Court granted his request and he received
an additional four months to designate new experts. Order . Instead of
designating an expert, his counsel filed a Motion  to Withdraw because he had
been unable to reach Plaintiff, and requested to stay proceedings. Mot.  at 1.
The Magistrate Judge gave Plaintiff until September 7, 2021, to secure new
counsel or enter a notice that he was proceeding pro se. Plaintiff did not comply
until October 28, 2021. While Plaintiff was almost two months late in filing his
reply, in light of his pro se status, the Court will give him one final opportunity to
preserve his claims. However, Plaintiff is strongly cautioned that further failure to
follow deadlines or prosecute his claim, or to keep the Court informed of his current
mailing address, may result in a dismissal of his case.
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that, Defendant BP
Exploration & Production Inc.’s Motion  to Dismiss for Lack of Prosecution is
IT IS, FURTHER, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that, Defendant’s
September 21, 2021, Dispositive Motions deadline will be extended to December 15,
2021. Any response by Plaintiff must be filed by January 3, 2022, with any Reply by
Defendants due January 10, 2022.
SO ORDERED, this the 17th day of November, 2021.
s/ Halil Suleyman Ozerden
HALIL SULEYMAN OZERDEN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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