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Jon of the Family Knutson v. California Department of Human Services

United States District Court, E.D. California

November 7, 2017

JON OF THE FAMILY KNUTSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, et al. Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS DISMISSING THE ACTION WITHOUT PREJUDICE FOR PLAINTIFF'S FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE COURT'S ORDER AND FAILURE TO PROSECUTE

          JENNIFER L. THURSTON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff alleges the California Department of Human Services, Kern County Division of Child Support Customer Services, Jonathan Shugart, and Ralph McKnight are liable for due process violations related to child support orders. (See Doc. 1) However, Plaintiff has failed to prosecute this action by filing an amended complaint as ordered by the Court. (Doc. 2) Accordingly, it is hereby recommended that the action be DISMISSED without prejudice for failure to prosecute and failure to comply with the Court's orders.

         I.Relevant Background

         Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a complaint on September 8, 2017. (Doc. 1) The Court reviewed the complaint, and found Plaintiff failed “to allege any facts to support his claim for a violation of due process.” (Doc. 2 at 6, emphasis in original) Further, the allegations were insufficient to determine whether this Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims, or whether the claims were barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. (Id. at 5) Therefore, the Court dismissed the complaint with leave to amend, advising Plaintiff: “If Plaintiff fails to file an amended complaint, the action may be dismissed for failure to prosecute and failure to obey the Court's order.” (Id. at 7, emphasis omitted).

         Plaintiff failed to file an amended complaint as ordered. Therefore, the Court issued an order to show cause on October 19, 2017, directing Plaintiff “to show cause within fourteen days of the date of service of this Order why the action should not be dismissed for his failure comply with the Court's order and failure to prosecute, or in the alternative, to file an amended complaint.” (Doc. 3 at 2) To date, Plaintiff has failed to comply with the Court's order and has not taken any other action to prosecute the matter.

         II. Failure to Prosecute and Obey the Court's Orders

         The Local Rules, corresponding with Fed.R.Civ.P. 11, provide: “Failure of counsel or of a party to comply with . . . any order of the Court may be grounds for the imposition by the Court of any and all sanctions . . . within the inherent power of the Court.” LR 110. “District courts have inherent power to control their dockets, ” and in exercising that power, a court may impose sanctions including dismissal of an action. Thompson v. Housing Authority of Los Angeles, 782 F.2d 829, 831 (9th Cir. 1986). A court may dismiss an action with prejudice, based on a party's failure to prosecute an action or failure to obey a court order, or failure to comply with local rules. See, e.g. Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1260-61 (9th Cir. 1992) (dismissal for failure to comply with an order); Malone v. U.S. Postal Service, 833 F.2d 128, 130 (9th Cir. 1987) (dismissal for failure to comply with a court order); Henderson v. Duncan, 779 F.2d 1421, 1424 (9th Cir. 1986) (dismissal for failure to prosecute and to comply with local rules).

         III. Discussion and Analysis

         To determine whether to dismiss an action for failure to prosecute and failure to obey a Court order, the Court must consider several factors, including: “(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.” Henderson, 779 F.2d at 1423-24; see also Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 1260-61; Thomspon, 782 F.2d at 831.

         A. Public interest and the Court's docket

         In the case at hand, the public's interest in expeditiously resolving this litigation and the Court's interest in managing the docket weigh in favor of dismissal. See Yourish v. Cal. Amplifier, 191 F.3d 983, 990 (9th Cir. 1999) (“The public's interest in expeditious resolution of litigation always favors dismissal”); Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 1261 (recognizing that district courts have inherent interest in managing their dockets without being subject to noncompliant litigants). This Court cannot, and will not hold, this case in abeyance based upon Plaintiff's failure to comply with the Court's orders and failure to take action to continue prosecution in a timely manner. See Morris v. Morgan Stanley & Co., 942 F.2d 648, 652 (9th Cir. 1991) (explaining a plaintiff has the burden “to move toward… disposition at a reasonable pace, and to refrain from dilatory and evasive tactics”). Accordingly, these factors weigh in favor of dismissal of the action.

         B. Prejudice to Defendant

         To determine whether the defendant suffers prejudice, the Court must “examine whether the plaintiff's actions impair the … ability to go to trial or threaten to interfere with the rightful decision of the case.” Malone, 833 F.2d at 131 (citing Rubin v. Belo Broadcasting Corp., 769 F.2d 611, 618 (9th Cir. 1985)). Significantly, a presumption of prejudiced arises when a plaintiff unreasonably delays the prosecution of an action. See Anderson v. Air West, 542 F.2d 522, 524 (9th Cir. 1976). Here, Plaintiff has not taken any action to further prosecute the action, despite being ordered by the Court to do so. Accordingly, this factor weighs in favor of dismissal.

         C. Consideration of less ...


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