SPURGEON v. THE NJ STATE POLICE et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge William J. Martini on 12/15/14. (gh, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Civ. No. 12-3352 (WJM)
THE NJ STATE POLICE, et al.,
Plaintiff David Spurgeon – who is currently incarcerated and proceeding pro se –
alleges that state and local police officers violated his rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by
using excessive force when arresting him. 1 Defendants moved without opposition to
dismiss the Complaint based on a failure to prosecute. ECF Nos. 53, 56, 65. On
November 12, 2014 the Honorable Mark Falk issued a Report and Recommendation
(“the R&R”) recommending that the undersigned grant Defendants’ motions. The parties
were notified that they had fourteen (14) days to submit objections and responses to the
R&R pursuant to Local Civil Rule 72.1(c)(2). On November 24, 2014, Spurgeon sent a
letter to Judge Falk requesting that his case not be dismissed. ECF No. 69. On
December 1, 2014, certain Defendants filed a response to Spurgeon’s letter and argued
that dismissal was appropriate. ECF No. 70. The Court will treat those two submissions
as the parties’ responses and objections to the R&R.
After conducting a de novo review of the R&R and considering the parties’
responses and objections, this Court will adopt the R&R as the Opinion of the Court and
dismiss Spurgeon’s Complaint with prejudice. In doing so, the Court concludes that
Judge Falk properly took into account the factors articulated in Poulis v. State Farm Fire
& Casualty Co. (Poulis), 747 F.2d 863, 868 (3d Cir. 1984).
Even though the Court adopts the R&R in full, it will address the points that
Spurgeon raises in his informal objections. Spurgeon contends that his case should not
be dismissed because he is now willing to engage in discovery. In his objections, he also
For a more thorough summary of Spurgeon’s allegations, see Spurgeon v. NJ State
Police, No. 12-cv-3352, 2014 W.L. 4662099 (D.N.J. Sept. 18, 2014).
asks the Court to issue subpoenas that would require production of video footage
allegedly taken during the time of his arrest. The Court cannot ignore the fact that this is
the second time Spurgeon has made an eleventh hour request to proceed with his case.
Almost a year to this day, Judge Falk issued a report recommending that Spurgeon’s case
be dismissed for failure to prosecute, ECF No. 47, but withdrew that recommendation
after Spurgeon insisted that he would make a meaningful effort to comply with discovery
orders. ECF No. 39. Judge Falk then issued an order stating that all discovery must be
completed by June 30, 2014 and explicitly warned Spurgeon that further delay would not
be excused. ECF No. 45. In his objections to the R&R, Spurgeon asks this Court to issue
subpoenas even though the discovery deadline in this case expired six months ago.
Spurgeon’s egregious flouting of Court orders belies his claim that he now plans to
properly participate in discovery.
Moreover, Spurgeon’s incarceration and pro se status does not absolve him of the
responsibility to move along his case, which he filed over two-and-a-half years ago. See,
e.g., Rogers v. MHU Staff, 398 Fed.Appx. 839 (3d Cir. 2010) (affirming dismissal of pro
se prisoner’s complaint for failure to prosecute); Arsad v. Gerula, 366 Fed.Appx. 323 (3d
Cir. 2010) (same). In hopes that it could reach the merits of the case, the Court has
patiently afforded Spurgeon multiple deadline extensions. However, that patience is
limited. The Court agrees with the R&R’s rationale for why dismissal is the appropriate
sanction in this case. Spurgeon’s Complaint is therefore DISMISSED WITH
PREJUDICE. An appropriate order follows.
/s/ William J. Martini
WILLIAM J. MARTINI, U.S.D.J.
Date: December 16, 2014
The Hon. Mark Falk, U.S.M.J.
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