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Beckman v. Davis

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

March 23, 2018

Henry A. Beckman, Plaintiff,
Warden Davis; Lieutenant Chestnut; Sergeant Wright; Ms. D. Albert, and C. Frye, Defendants.



         This is a civil action filed by a state prisoner. Under Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.), pretrial proceedings in this action have been referred to the assigned United States Magistrate Judge. This case is before the undersigned for consideration of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Prosecution. ECF No. 36.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         At the time this case was submitted for filing on September 13, 2017, Plaintiff indicated that he was incarcerated at the Kirkland Correctional Institution, part of the South Carolina Department of Corrections (“SCDC”) prison system. ECF No. 1-1. On September 26, 2017, Plaintiff was directed to provide certain items to render this case in proper form. ECF No. 10. He responded to the Order and provided a change of address form, indicating that he had been transferred to Evans Correctional Institution. ECF Nos. 13, 14.

         Following the required initial review of pro se pleadings, on December 6, 2017, the undersigned issued a Report and Recommendation for dismissal of three Defendants, Frye, Albert, and Davis, and for dismissal of two claims made in the Complaint. ECF No. 20. The remaining Defendants were served. ECF No. 18. The mail in which Plaintiff's copy of the Report and Recommendation and Serve Order were mailed to him at Evans Correctional Institution was returned to the court marked undeliverable on December 21, 2017. The stamp on the returned mailed states “no longer at this address.” ECF No. 26.

         On February 12, 2018, an Order adopting the Report and Recommendation was issued by United States District Judge Coggins. ECF No. 33. On February 14, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the case for lack of prosecution, alleging that Plaintiff was released from SCDC custody on December 1, 2017 and noting that he has not provided the court with an updated address since that time. ECF No. 36. The Roseboro Order[1] issued in response to the Motion to Dismiss was mailed to the Evans Correctional Institution address, which is the only address the court has for Plaintiff. ECF No. 37. The mail concerning the court's Order adopting the Report and Recommendation was also sent to Plaintiff at that Evans Correctional Institution address; it was returned to the court on February 20, 2018, again bearing a stamp stating “no longer at this address.” ECF No. 39. The mail containing Plaintiff's copy of the Roseboro Order was also returned undelivered with the same stamp on it. ECF No. 40. The court has received no communication from Plaintiff since he submitted his response to the initial Order on September 18, 2017.

         II. Discussion

         Defendants' Motion to Dismiss should be granted because Plaintiff has failed to comply with an Order of this court and has failed to provide an updated address to the court in over three months since his release from SCDC custody. In the initial Order issued in this case, which Plaintiff clearly received and responded to, Plaintiff was provided with clear directions regarding his obligation to keep his address information up to date and regarding the possibility of dismissal of his case should he fail to do so. ECF No. 10. The relevant part of that Order stated,

You are ordered to always keep the Clerk of Court advised in writing (Post Office Box 2317, Florence, South Carolina 29503) if your address changes for any reason, so as to assure that orders or other matters that specify deadlines for you to meet will be received by you. If as a result of your failure to comply with this Order, you fail to meet a deadline set by this court, your case may be dismissed for violating this Order. Therefore, if you have a change of address before this case is ended, you must comply with this Order by immediately advising the Clerk of Court in writing of such change of address and providing the court with the docket number of all pending cases you have filed with this court. Your failure to do so will not be excused by the court.

         Despite his apparent knowledge of his obligation to do so, Plaintiff has not provided a valid, up-to-date address for this court. All recent mail sent to Plaintiff has been returned undelivered and the court has no way to contact him as this time.

         Plaintiff's failure to comply with this court's Order warning him of the need to respond with a good mailing address and the consequences of failure to respond indicates an intent to not prosecute this case and subjects the case to dismissal. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b) (district courts may dismiss an action if a plaintiff fails to comply with “any order of the court.”); see also Ballard v. Carlson, 882 F.2d 93, 95 (4th Cir. 1989) (dismissal with prejudice appropriate where warning given). The court should not allow a case such as this one to languish on the docket without participation by Plaintiff. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Prosecution should be granted.

         III. Recommendation

         Accordingly, it is recommended that this case be dismissed with prejudice for failure to comply with a court order and ...

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