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James N. Owens v. Russell Nuxoll et al

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


December 20, 2012

JAMES N. OWENS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RUSSELL NUXOLL ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

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

ORDER

Plaintiff, who is proceeding without counsel and in forma pauperis, filed his complaint on June 1, 2012, alleging claims for civil assault and civil battery.*fn1 On September 20, 2012, the undersigned ordered service of plaintiff's complaint upon the defendants, ordered plaintiff to supply the United States Marshal with certain documents within 30 days, and ordered plaintiff to file a statement with the court confirming his submission of those documents to the U.S. Marshal. (Order, Dkt. No. 12.) To date, however, the court's electronic docket does not reflect that plaintiff ever supplied documents to the U.S. Marshal.

On December 12, 2012, plaintiff filed a Motion for Extension of Time seeking an additional 30 days to comply with the undersigned's prior order at Docket Number 12. (Mot. for Extension of Time, Dkt. No. 16.) Therein, plaintiff describes his confusion regarding the applicable deadlines, and explains that his recent involvement as a defendant in criminal trial proceedings in state court in September and October caused him "stress" that resulted in his failure to comply with the order regarding service. (Id.)

Good cause appearing, the undersigned grants plaintiff's request for a 30 day extension of time in which to comply with the order at Docket Number 12. However, the undersigned reminds plaintiff that he is obligated to comply with court orders and the rules of litigation procedure, notwithstanding his status as a pro se litigant. 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. 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); 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."), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 915 (1992); 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), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 829 (1986). Accordingly, in the future, plaintiff's failure to timely comply with orders and failure to request an extension of time before the deadline at issue passes may result in a recommendation that this action be dismissed. See E.D. Local Rule 144(d).

For the foregoing reasons, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT: 1. Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Time (Dkt. No. 16) is hereby granted. Within thirty (30) days of entry of this order, plaintiff shall comply with the undersigned's prior order at Docket Number 12.

2. Plaintiff's failure to timely comply with this order may result in a recommendation that this action be dismissed.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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