Barton v. FFE Transportation Services, Inc. et al
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS by Magistrate Judge Laura Fashing. Objections to R&R due by 2/2/2017. Add 3 days to the deadline if service is by mailing it to the person's last known address (or means described in Fed. R. Civ. P. 5(b)(2)(D) and (F)); if service is by electronic means, no additional days are added. (Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(d); Fed. R. Crim. P. 45(c).) (cda)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO
FFE TRANSPORTATION SERVICES, INC. and
TRACY JAMES HUBER,
PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION
THIS MATTER comes before the Court on two sua sponte orders to show cause issued
to pro se plaintiff Lewis Barton. Docs. 38, 39. The Court issued the first order to show cause
because Mr. Barton failed to attend a telephonic status conference scheduled for November 30,
2016. Doc. 38 (“first order”). Mr. Barton was required to respond to the first order by
December 14, 2016, but failed to do so. Accordingly, the Court issued a second order to show
cause for Mr. Barton’s failure to comply with the Court’s first order. Doc. 39 (“second order”).
Mr. Barton was required to respond to the second order by January 17, 2017. Id. The record
indicates that the second order was mailed to Mr. Barton at his address of record. There is no
indication that Mr. Barton did not receive the second order to show cause. Nonetheless, Mr.
Barton failed to respond to the second order to show cause in violation of that order. This is the
third time Mr. Barton has failed to obey an order of the Court. Mr. Barton has not filed anything
with the Court or participated in the prosecution of this case since September 12 2016. Doc. 33.
The Court may issue any just orders, including sanctions authorized by Rule 37(b)(2)(A)
(ii)–(vii), if a party fails to appear at a scheduling or other pretrial conference, see FED. R. CIV. P.
16(f), or fails to obey a court order, see FED. R. CIV. P. 41(b). Rule 16(f) “indicates the intent to
give courts very broad discretion to use sanctions where necessary to insure . . . that lawyers and
parties . . . fulfill their high duty to insure the expeditious and sound management of the
preparation of cases for trial.” Gripe v. City of Enid, 312 F.3d 1184, 1188 (10th Cir. 2002)
(quoting Mulvaney v. Rivair Flying Serv., Inc. (In re Baker), 744 F.2d 1438, 1440 (10th Cir.
1984) (en banc)). “It is within a court's discretion to dismiss a case if, after considering all the
relevant factors, it concludes that dismissal alone would satisfy the interests of justice.”
Ehrenhaus v. Reynolds, 965 F.2d 916, 918 (10th Cir.1992).
Before imposing dismissal as a sanction, a district court should evaluate the following
factors on the record: “(1) the degree of actual prejudice to the [other party]; (2) the amount of
interference with the judicial process; . . . (3) the culpability of the litigant; (4) whether the court
warned the party in advance that dismissal of the action would be a likely sanction for
noncompliance; and (5) the efficacy of lesser sanctions.” Gripe, 312 F.3d at 1188 (summarizing
the Ehrenhaus factors). Dismissal as a sanction under Rule 16(f) should ordinarily be evaluated
under the same factors. See id. “The factors do not create a rigid test but are simply criteria for
the court to consider.” Id. (citing Ehrenhaus, 965 F.2d at 921).
In this case, Mr. Barton failed to obey several orders of the Court. He failed to attend a
scheduled status conference and failed to respond to two orders to show cause. Mr. Barton’s
failure to participate has not caused a high degree of prejudice to defendants. Although
defendants have expended time and money attending the status conference and submitting their
witness list pursuant to the deadlines imposed by the Court, see Docs. 37, 40, they have not
expended an inordinate amount of time dealing with this case. Mr. Barton’s lack of
participation, however, does interfere with the judicial process. The case has been stymied by
Mr. Barton’s refusal to respond or participate. The case cannot move forward without his
participation. Mr. Barton is culpable for violating the Court’s orders. There is no indication that
he did not receive the Court’s orders, and no explanation why he has refused to abide by them.
Finally, Mr. Barton was warned in the first and second orders to show cause that sanctions—
including dismissal—could be imposed. Doc. 38 at 2, Doc. 39 at 2. Despite these warnings, Mr.
Barton has ignored three orders of this Court, indicating that lesser sanctions would not be
Because the Ehrenhaus factors weigh in favor of dismissal, I recommend that pro se
plaintiff Lewis Barton’s complaint be dismissed with prejudice.
THE PARTIES ARE FURTHER NOTIFIED THAT WITHIN 14 DAYS OF SERVICE of
a copy of these Proposed Findings and Recommended Disposition, they may file written
objections with the Clerk of the District Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). A
party must file any objections with the Clerk of the District Court within the fourteen-day
period if that party wants to have appellate review of the proposed findings and
recommended disposition. If no objections are filed, no appellate review will be allowed.
United States Magistrate Judge
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