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Byrd v. Commissioner, Social Security Administration

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division

May 10, 2018

Tony Byrd, Plaintiff,
v.
Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Kevin F. McDonald United States Magistrate Judge.

         The plaintiff, proceeding pro se, brought this action to obtain judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security's administrative decision denying supplemental security income benefits (doc. 1 at 3). This matter is before the court for a Report and Recommendation pursuant to Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(a), DSC and Title 28, United States Code, Section 636(b)(1)(B). For the reasons set forth below, it is recommended that the case be dismissed for the plaintiff's failure to prosecute and failure to comply with a court order.

         BACKGROUND

         By order filed on March 12, 2018, the plaintiff was informed that his case was not in proper form for service, and provided with instructions for bringing the case into proper form (doc. 11). The court directed the plaintiff to provide service documents and to complete the Court's Special Interrogatories. The plaintiff was given twenty-one (21) days from the date the order was entered, plus three (3) days for mailing to comply with the court's order (Id. at 1). The order warned the plaintiff that his failure to comply with the order within the time permitted would subject his case to dismissal for failure to prosecute and failure to comply with an order of this court under Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Id.). On April 6, 2018, the plaintiff responded to the court's proper form order by submitting service documents and answers to the Court's Special Interrogatories (Id. at 15 and 17). However, the service documents submitted were not responsive to the court's order as the plaintiff failed to comply with the court's directions in completing these documents.

         On April 17, 2018, the court entered a second order advising the plaintiff that his case was not in proper form (doc. 19). The order directed the plaintiff to follow the directions in the court's proper form order when completing the summonses and the forms USM-285. The plaintiff was also advised that the “Court's Special Interrogatories” must be signed and dated and that the plaintiff must attach a copy of the Social Security Appeals Counsel's decision and a copy of the notice the plaintiff received stating that his appeal had been denied. The plaintiff was given twenty-one (21) days from the date of the date the order was entered, plus three (3) days for mailing to comply with the court's order (Id. at 2). The order warned the plaintiff that his failure to comply with the order within the time permitted would subject his case to dismissal for failure to prosecute and failure to comply with an order of this court under Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Id. at 1). The time for response expired on May 8, 2018, and the plaintiff did not file a response.

         DISCUSSION

         As indicated above, the plaintiff failed to comply with the court's orders of March 12, 2018 and April 17, 2018 and failed to provide necessary information and paperwork to accomplish review and possible service of process under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The court warned the plaintiff that failure to comply with its orders would subject his case to dismissal for failure to prosecute. As previously noted, the plaintiff did respond to the court's March 12, 2018 proper form order but the documents submitted were not responsive to the court's order. The plaintiff has not responded to the court's April 17, 2018 proper form order.

         It is well established that a district court has authority to dismiss a case for failure to prosecute. “The authority of a court to dismiss sua sponte for lack of prosecution has generally been considered an ‘inherent power, ' governed not by rule or statute but by the control necessarily vested in courts to manage their own affairs so as to achieve the orderly and expeditious disposition of cases.” See Link v. Wabash R.R. Co., 370 U.S. 626, 630-31 (1962). In addition to its inherent authority, this court may also sua sponte dismiss a case for lack of prosecution under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) (Id. at 630).

         Although a pro se litigant is not held to the same high standards as an attorney, see Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 10 n. 7 (1980) (per curiam); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), pro se litigants must meet certain standards, including “respect for court orders without which effective judicial administration would be impossible.” Ballard v. Carlson, 882 F.2d 93, 96 (4th Cir.1989). Thus, pro se litigants are subject to the provisions of Rule 41.

         Based on the plaintiff's failure to fully respond to the court's March 12, 2018 order and failure to respond to the court's April 17, 2018 order, the undersigned concludes the plaintiff does not intend to pursue the above-captioned matter. Because the plaintiff failed to fully comply with an order of this court after being warned that his failure to comply would result in dismissal, it does not appear that any sanction less drastic than dismissal is available. See Ballard, 882 F.2d at 96 (finding the magistrate judge's explicit warning that a recommendation of dismissal would result from the plaintiff's failure to obey his order gave the district court little alternative to dismissal). As such, this case should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Ballard, 882 F.2d at 95 (finding that dismissal of a suit did not constitute abuse of discretion where the plaintiff “failed to respond to a specific directive from the court”).

         CONCLUSION

         Accordingly, the undersigned recommends that this case be dismissed without prejudice for failure to prosecute and failure to comply with this court's orders pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b). The plaintiff's attention is directed to the important notice of the following page.

         IT IS SO RECOMMENDED.

         Notice of Right to File Objections to Report ...


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