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Ryan Sahadeo v. Wells Fargo Bank

August 5, 2011

RYAN SAHADEO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A.; ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kendall J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

This case was filed on March 28, 2011, and removed to federal court on April 21, 2011. (Notice of Removal, Dkt. No. 1; Complaint, Exh. A to Dkt. No. 1.)*fn1 On May 26, 2011, defendant Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. ("Wells Fargo") filed motions to dismiss and strike the complaint, as well as a request for judicial notice in support thereof (the "Motions"). (Motions, Dkt. Nos. 15-19.) To date, plaintiff Ryan Sahadeo (the "plaintiff") has filed no written opposition, statement of non-opposition, or other response to the pending Motions despite being given multiple opportunities to do so, and despite instructions from the court that such failure could lead to the involuntary dismissal of his lawsuit. (Dkt. Nos. 25 at 3-4, 26 at 3.) For the reasons that follow, the undersigned dismisses plaintiff's action with prejudice pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b).

I. BACKGROUND

On June 22, 2011, the court granted plaintiff's attorney's motion to withdraw as plaintiff's counsel of record. (Dkt. No. 24.) As a result, plaintiff currently represents himself in propria persona and is proceeding without counsel in this action. (Id.) Plaintiff's prior counsel informed the court that plaintiff did not oppose her withdrawal, and that plaintiff had been given copies of defendant's pending Motions. (Dkt. Nos. 21, 23.)

Plaintiff's written opposition or statement of non-opposition to defendant's Motions was originally due on June 23, 2011. Plaintiff, however, did not file any documents on that date. On June 28, 2011, and in response to plaintiff's failure to file a response to the Motions, the undersigned entered an order (the "Order") that: (1) continued the hearing on the Motions until August 11, 2011, to give plaintiff one more opportunity to file an opposition thereto; and (2) required plaintiff to file a written opposition or statement of non-opposition on or before Thursday, July 28, 2011. (Dkt. No. 26 (the "June 28th Order").) Within its June 28th Order, the court also explicitly informed plaintiff that:

Eastern District Local Rule 110 provides that "[f]ailure of counsel or of a party to comply with these Rules or with any order of the Court may be grounds for imposition by the Court of any and all sanctions authorized by statute or Rule or within the inherent power of the Court." Moreover, Eastern District Local Rule 183(a) provides, in part:

Any individual representing himself or herself without an attorney is bound by the Federal Rules of Civil or Criminal Procedure, these Rules, and all other applicable law. All obligations placed on "counsel" by these Rules apply to individuals appearing in propria persona. Failure to comply therewith may be ground for dismissal . . . or any other sanction appropriate under these Rules.

See also King v. Atiyeh, 814 F.2d 565, 567 (9th Cir. 1987) ("Pro se litigants must follow the same rules of procedure that govern other litigants."). Case law is in accord that a district court may impose sanctions, including involuntary dismissal of a plaintiff's case pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b), where that plaintiff fails to prosecute his or her case or fails to comply with the court's orders, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, or the court's local rules. See Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 44 (1991) (recognizing that a court "may act sua sponte to dismiss a suit for failure to prosecute"); Hells Canyon Preservation Council v. U.S. Forest Serv., 403 F.3d 683, 689 (9th Cir. 2005) (stating that courts may dismiss an action pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) sua sponte for a plaintiff's failure to prosecute or comply with the rules of civil procedure or the court's orders); Ghazali v. Moran, 46 F.3d 52, 53 (9th Cir. 1995) (per curiam) ("Failure to follow a district court's local rules is a proper ground for dismissal."); Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1260 (9th Cir. 1992) ("Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b), the district court may dismiss an action for failure to comply with any order of the court."); Thompson v. Housing Auth. of City of L.A., 782 F.2d 829, 831 (9th Cir. 1986) (per curiam) (stating that district courts have inherent power to control their dockets and may impose sanctions including dismissal).

(Dkt. No. 25 at 2-3 (emphasis in original, footnote omitted).)*fn2 The order stated that "Plaintiff's failure to file written oppositions by this date will be deemed statements of non-opposition to the pending motion and consent to the granting of the motion to dismiss, and shall constitute an additional ground for the imposition of appropriate sanctions, including ordering that plaintiff's case be involuntarily dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b)." (Id. at 3-4.) The order also reminded plaintiff that "plaintiff's status as a litigant proceeding without counsel does not relieve plaintiff of the obligation to comply with the court's orders, the Eastern District Local Rules, and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure." (Id.)

Further, in a separate order dated June 30, 2011, the court informed the parties that "pro se litigants must comply with the procedural rules" and that a "failure to comply with the Local Rules 'may be grounds for imposition of any and all sanctions authorized by statute or Rule or within the inherent power of the Court.'" (Dkt. No. 26 at 3.) In short, the court has warned plaintiff that his failure to oppose the Motions might subject his case to dismissal for his failure to prosecute it, as well as for his failure to comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court's orders, and the court's Local Rules.

Despite the court's multiple attempts to make plaintiff aware of the need to timely respond to the Motions, and despite the court's sua sponte extension specifically to give plaintiff another chance to file a written response to the Motions, to date plaintiff still has not filed a written opposition or statement of non-opposition. Plaintiff failed to file any documents despite being given an additional opportunity to do so and explicit warnings that the failure to file a written opposition or statement of non-opposition would result in the dismissal of his lawsuit. Indeed, a review of the court's electronic docket confirms that plaintiff has not made any filings since he began representing himself. Plaintiff's repeated failure to file an opposition to the Motions is grounds for dismissal of his suit.

II. DISCUSSION

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b), a district court may dismiss an action for failure to prosecute, failure to comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, failure to comply with the court's local rules, or failure to comply with the court's orders.*fn3 See, e.g., Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 44 (1991) (recognizing that a court "may act sua sponte to dismiss a suit for failure to prosecute"); Hells Canyon Preservation Council v. U.S. Forest Serv., 403 F.3d 683, 689 (9th Cir. 2005) (recognizing that courts may dismiss an action pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) sua sponte for a plaintiff's failure to prosecute or comply with the rules of civil procedure or the court's orders); Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1260 (9th Cir. 1992) ("Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b), the district court may dismiss an action for failure to comply with any order of the court."); Pagtalunan v. Galaza, 291 F.3d 639, 642-43 (9th Cir. 2002) (affirming district court's dismissal of case for failure to prosecute when habeas petitioner failed to file a first amended petition). This court's Local Rules are in accord. See E.D. Local Rule 110 ("Failure of counsel or of a party to comply with these Rules or with any order of the Court may be grounds for imposition by the Court of any and all sanctions authorized by statute or Rule or within the inherent power of the Court."); E.D. Local Rule 183(a) (providing that a pro se party's failure to comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court's Local Rules, and other applicable law may support, among other things, dismissal of that party's action).

A court must weigh five factors in determining whether to dismiss a case for failure to prosecute, failure to comply with a court order, or failure to comply with a district court's local rules. See, e.g., Ferdik, ...


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