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Hunt v. State

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division

January 11, 2019

Kalvin Dontay Hunt, Plaintiff,
v.
The State of South Carolina, South Carolina Department of Mental Health, Columbia Regional Correct Care, Dr. Andrew Hedgepath, Meagan Hill, Defendants.[*]

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          JACQUELYN D. AUSTIN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff brought this action seeking relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. [Doc. 1.] On November 6, 2018, Defendants Dr. Andrew Hedgepath and Meagan Hill filed a motion for summary judgment. [Doc. 21.] By Order of this Court on the same day, pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), Plaintiff was advised of the summary judgment/dismissal procedure and the possible consequences if he failed to respond adequately to the motion. [Doc. 22.] Despite this explanation regarding the consequences for failing to respond, Plaintiff failed to respond to the motion for summary judgmennt.

         As Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court filed an Order on December 14, 2018, giving Plaintiff through January 3, 2019, to respond to the motion for summary judgment. [Doc. 24.] Plaintiff was specifically advised that if he failed to respond, this action would be dismissed for failure to prosecute. [Id.] However, Plaintiff has failed to respond to the motion.

         Based on the foregoing, it appears Plaintiff no longer wishes to pursue this action. “The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure recognize that courts must have the authority to control litigation before them, and this authority includes the power to order dismissal of an action for failure to comply with court orders.” Ballard v. Carlson, 882 F.2d 93, 95 (4th Cir. 1989) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b)). “Federal courts possess an inherent authority to dismiss cases with prejudice sua sponte.” Gantt v. Md. Div. of Corr., 894 F.Supp. 226, 229 (D. Md. 1995) (citing Link v. Wabash R.R. Co., 370 U.S. 626 (1962); White v. Raymark Indus., Inc., 783 F.2d 1175 (4th Cir. 1986); Zaczek v. Fauquier Cty., Va., 764 F.Supp. 1071, 1074 (E.D. Va.1991)).

         The Fourth Circuit, in Davis v. Williams, recognizing that dismissal with prejudice is a harsh sanction that should not be invoked lightly, set forth four factors for determining whether Rule 41(b) dismissal is appropriate:

(1) the degree of personal responsibility on the part of the plaintiff;
(2) the amount of prejudice to the defendant caused by the delay;
(3) the presence or absence of a drawn out history of deliberately proceeding in a dilatory fashion; and
(4) the effectiveness of sanctions less drastic than dismissal.

588 F.2d 69, 70 (4th Cir. 1978) (citing McCargo v. Hedrick, 545 F.2d 393, 396 (4th Cir. 1976)). Subsequently, however, the Fourth Circuit noted that “the four factors . . . are not a rigid four-pronged test, ” and whether to dismiss depends on the particular circumstances of the case. Ballard, 882 F.2d at 95. For example, in Ballard, the court reasoned that “the Magistrate's explicit warning that a recommendation of dismissal would result from failure to obey his order is a critical fact that distinguishes this case from those cited by appellant. . . . In view of the warning, the district court had little alternative to dismissal. Any other course would have placed the credibility of the court in doubt and invited abuse.” Id. at 95-96.

         As Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, he is personally responsible for his failure to file a response to the motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff has had over two months to respond to the motion. Plaintiff's initial response was due by December 7, 2018; despite being advised of the possible consequences if he failed to adequately respond, Plaintiff elected not to respond to the motion. The Court filed another Order, reminding Plaintiff that a response was due and giving him additional time-until January 3, 2019-to respond. The Court has warned Plaintiff the case would be dismissed pursuant to Rule 41(b) if Plaintiff failed to file a response. Despite this explanation, Plaintiff has elected not to respond. Because Plaintiff has already ignored Court Orders and deadlines, sanctions less drastic than dismissal would not be effective.

         Wherefore, based upon the foregoing, the Court recommends that the case be DISMISSED pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b).

         IT IS ...


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