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Moore v. City of Shafter

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 9, 2018

CHRISTY V. MOORE, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF SHAFTER, et al., Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO DISMISS DEFENDANT ARDON PURSUANT TO Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(M) AND TO CLOSE THE ACTION (DOCS. 24, 25, 28) TWENTY-ONE (21) DAY DEADLINE

          SHEILA K. OBERTO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. FINDINGS

         A. Procedural History

         Plaintiff, Christy V. Moore, is a state prisoner, proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis in this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action is proceeding on Plaintiff's claim for violation of her rights under the Eight Amendment against Defendant Ardon. (See Docs. 11, 16, 17.) The U.S. Marshal was not able to locate Defendant Ardon and service was returned unexecuted on November 13, 2017. (Doc. 24.) Thus, On November 16, 2017, Plaintiff was provided opportunity to submit additional information on Defendant Ardon's whereabouts to achieve service. (Doc. 25.) Plaintiff failed to submit any information on Defendant Ardon's whereabouts during the permitted timeframe.

         An order issued on January 11, 2018, for Plaintiff to show cause (“OSC”) why Defendant Ardon should not be dismissed under Rule 4(m) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, [1] which would result in closing this action. (Doc. 28.) Plaintiff requested and received a sixty (60) day extension of time to respond to the OSC. (Docs. 29, 30.) Despite lapse of nearly ninety (90) days, Plaintiff has neither responded to the OSC, nor provided additional information on Defendant Ardon's whereabouts to allow for service by U.S. Marshal.

         B. Legal Standard

         Rule 4(m) provides:

If a defendant is not served within 120 days after the complaint is filed, the court -on motion or on its own after notice to the plaintiff - must dismiss the action without prejudice against that defendant or order that service be made within a specified time. But if the plaintiff shows good cause for the failure, the court must extend the time for service for an appropriate period.

         In cases involving a plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis, the Marshal, upon order of the Court, shall serve the summons and the complaint. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d); Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(c)(3). “[A]n incarcerated pro se plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis is entitled to rely on the U.S. Marshal for service of the summons and complaint and should not be penalized by having his action dismissed for failure to effect service where the U.S. Marshal or the court clerk has failed to perform his duties.” Walker v. Sumner, 14 F.3d 1415, 1422 (9th Cir. 1994) (internal quotations and citation omitted), abrogated on other grounds by Sandin v. Connor, 515 U.S. 472 (1995). “So long as the prisoner has furnished the information necessary to identify the defendant, the marshal's failure to effect service is automatically good cause. . . .” Walker, 14 F.3d at 1422 (internal quotations and citation omitted). However, where a pro se plaintiff fails to provide the Marshal with accurate and sufficient information to effect service of the summons and complaint, the Court's sua sponte dismissal of the unserved defendants is appropriate. Walker, 14 F.3d at 1421-22.

         B. Analysis

         At this juncture, the Marshal's Office has exhausted the avenues available to it in attempting to locate and serve Defendant Ardon.[2] Walker, 14 F.3d at 1421-22. On November 16, 2017, Plaintiff was ordered to provide additional information for service on Defendant Ardon. (Doc. 25.) Although nearly five months have passed since that order issued, Plaintiff has failed to provide any additional information to attempt service on Defendant Ardon.

         This action has been pending for over two years. Plaintiff's time for identifying and serving Defendant Ardon has been extended well beyond the 120 days from the filing of the Complaint as allowed in Rule 4(m). While good cause initially existed to allow an extension beyond the 120 day service deadline of Rule 4(m), there is no good cause to further extend the time for service of Defendant Ardon. It is Plaintiff's obligation to provide information necessary to identify and locate a given defendant-which Plaintiff has not done and is apparently unable to do. Good cause does not exist to further extend the time for service of the operative complaint in this action on Defendant Ardon. As such, Ardon is the only defendant and this action should be closed.

         II. CONCLUSION & RECOMMENDATION

         Plaintiff has failed and is unable to provide sufficient information to identify and locate Defendant Ardon for service of a summons in this action. Good cause does not ...


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