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Melody Joy Baker v. Ventura County Human Services Agency

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


February 19, 2013

MELODY JOY BAKER
v.
VENTURA COUNTY HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Present: The Honorable Percy Anderson, United States District Judge

JS-6

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

Paul Songco Not Reported N/A

Deputy Clerk Court Reporter Tape No.

Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs: Attorneys Present for Defendants:

None None

Proceedings: IN CHAMBERS -- COURT ORDER

Plaintiff Melody Joy Baker ("Plaintiff") has not filed a First Amended Complaint ("FAC"). The Court's Order dated January 18, 2013 granted defendant Ventura County Human Services Agency's ("Defendant") Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff was granted leave to amend one of the claims, and a FAC was to be filed no later than February 1, 2013.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) provides that a defendant may move for dismissal of an action for "failure of the plaintiff to prosecute or to comply with these rules or any order of court." Although Rule 41(b) provides for dismissal on the motion of the defendant, the Court can also dismiss an action sua sponte pursuant to Rule 41(b). See Link v. Wabash R.R., 370 U.S. 626, 629-30, 82 S. Ct. 1386, 1388, 8 L. Ed. 2d 734 (1962); see also Alexander v. Pac. Maritime Ass'n, 434 F.2d 281, 283-84 (9th Cir. 1970). The permissive language of Rule 41-that defendant "may" move for dismissal-does not limit the Court's ability to dismiss sua sponte if the defendant makes no motion for dismissal. Link, 370 U.S. at 630, 82 S. Ct. at 1388-89. The Court has the inherent power to achieve the orderly and expeditious disposition of cases by dismissing actions pursuant to Rule 41(b) with prejudice for failure to prosecute or for failure to comply with a court order. See id. at 629-30, 82 S. Ct. at 1388-89 (dismissal for failure to prosecute); Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1260 (9th Cir. 1992) (same); Yourish v. California Amplifier, 191 F.3d 983, 987 (9th Cir. 1999) (dismissal for failure to comply with court order).

In Henderson v. Duncan, 779 F.2d 1421 (9th Cir. 1986), the Ninth Circuit set forth five factors for a district court to consider before resorting to the penalty of dismissal: "(1) the public's interest in expeditious resolution of litigation; (2) the court's need to manage its docket; (3) the risk of prejudice to the defendants; (4) the public policy favoring disposition of cases on their merits; and (5) the availability of less drastic sanctions." Id. at 1423. Cases involving sua sponte dismissal merit special focus on considerations relating to the fifth Henderson factor. Hernandez v. City of El Monte, 138 F.3d 393, 399 (9th Cir. 1998). Dismissal is appropriate "where at least four factors support dismissal, . . . or where at least three factors 'strongly' support dismissal." Id. (citing Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 1263).

Here, in assessing the first Henderson factor, the public's interest in expeditious resolution of litigation, will be satisfied by a dismissal. See Pagtalunan v. Galaza, 291 F.3d 639, 642 (9th Cir. 2002) (citing Yourish, 191 F.3d at 990 (public's interest in expeditious resolution of litigation always favors dismissal)). Relatedly, with respect to the second factor, the Court's need to manage its docket will be served by dismissal. See id.

The third Henderson factor at least marginally favors dismissal. Defendant may be further prejudiced unless the complaint is dismissed. See Yourish, 191 F.3d at 991; Pagtalunan, 291 F.3d at 642 (holding that failing to timely amend risks prejudice and can justify dismissal).

In considering the fourth and fifth Henderson factors, this Court's Order dated January 18, 2013 granted Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and required Plaintiff to file a FAC no later than February 1, 2013. Additionally, the Court intends to dismiss this action without prejudice. Accordingly, the fifth Henderson factor favors dismissal because the Court has adopted the "less-drastic" sanction of dismissal without prejudice. See McHenry v. Renne, 84 F.3d 1172, 1179 (9th Cir. 1996) (district court should first consider less drastic alternatives to dismissal with prejudice).

As a result of the Plaintiff's failure to timely amend the complaint in violation of this Court's Order, this action is dismissed without prejudice. See Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b); see also, 191 F.3d at 986-88; Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 1260.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20130219

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