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Williams v. Jordan

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 16, 2019

AKHEEM DESHAVIER WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
PATRICK JORDAN, LARRY LEEDS, JONATHAN RIVERA, and STEVEN SITTER, Defendants.

         FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING DISMISSAL OF ACTION, WITH PREJUDICE, FOR FAILURE TO OBEY COURT ORDERS (DOC. NOS. 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 39, 41, 42, 44, 45, 49, 50, 51, 52) ORDER DENYING PLANTIFF'S MOTION FOR PERMISSION TO PRODUCE DOCUMENTS (DOC. NO. 44) ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO INVESTIGATE CASE IN KINGS COUNTY (DOC. NO. 45) ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO INVESTIGATE KINGS COUNTY JAIL (DOC. NO. 49) ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR STAY OF PROCEEDINGS (DOC. NO. 51.) ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR COPY OF DOCKET AND ESTIMATE OF COSTS (DOC. NO. 52)

          BARBARA A. McAULIFFE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Akheem Deshavier Williams (“Plaintiff”) is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed his initial complaint on June 19, 2017. (Doc. No. 1.)

         On October 22, 2017, after mailings from the Court were returned as undeliverable, the Court issued findings and recommendations to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint based on Plaintiff's failure to prosecute. (Doc. No. 4.) On January 8, 2018, Plaintiff appeared in person at the office of the Clerk of the Court and discovered that Plaintiff's incorrect address was a result of his name being incorrectly entered on the docket. (Doc. No. 5.) This error was corrected, and the Court vacated the findings and recommendations to dismiss Plaintiff's case. (Id.) Having corrected the error, the Court advised Plaintiff that it would screen his initial complaint and direct the United States Marshal to serve his complaint only after the Court determined that it contains cognizable claims for relief against the named defendants. (Id.) The Court informed Plaintiff that it had many such cases pending and it would screen his complaint in due course. (Id.)

         Plaintiff subsequently filed multiple documents with the Court in an effort to supplement or amend his initial complaint. (Doc. Nos. 7, 12, 14, 16, 20, 21, 23, 25, 26, 27, 30.) Accordingly, on October 9, 2018, the Court issued an order directing Plaintiff to file a single amended complaint (Doc. No. 31.) The Court explained that Plaintiff was not permitted to amend his complaint in a piecemeal fashion and, if Plaintiff wished to add, omit, or correct information in the operative complaint, he must file an amended or supplemental complaint that is complete within itself. (Id.) The Court further instructed Plaintiff that his amended complaint must not to exceed twenty-five (25) pages in length and must be clearly identified as “Second Amended Complaint.” (Id.) Plaintiff was cautioned that failure to comply would result in the action being dismissed for failure to obey a court order. (Id.)

         On October 29, 2018, Plaintiff filed a document titled Amended Complaint that was twenty-six (26) pages in length. (Doc. No. 32.) On November 2, 2018, Plaintiff filed a motion requesting that the Court accept the Amended Complaint as the Second Amended Complaint as Plaintiff had failed to follow the Court's directive to clearly identify his amended complaint as “Second Amended Complaint.” (Doc. No. 33.) The same day, Plaintiff lodged a separate document consisting of three (3) pages, including the first page of a civil rights complaint form labeled “Second Amended Complaint” followed by two pages of purported corrections to the previously-filed amended complaint. (Doc. No. 34.) Plaintiff then submitted three additional filings totaling thirteen (13) pages which appear to attempt to add, modify, or omit claims and factual allegations from his Second Amended Complaint. (Doc. Nos. 35, 36, 37.)

         On March 1, 2019, the Court issued an order again directing Plaintiff to file a single amended complaint and advising him that piecemeal amendments were impermissible. (Doc. No. 41.) The Court's March 1, 2019 order warned Plaintiff that this was his final opportunity to file a single amended complaint and failure to comply would result in dismissal of the action for failure to obey a court order. (Doc. No. 41.) On March 8, 2019, Plaintiff filed a document titled Second Amended Complaint. (Doc. No. 42.) Subsequently, while Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint remained pending at the screening stage, Plaintiff submitted several additional filings styled as motions and/or notices which again set forth lengthy factual allegations in a purported attempt to add, modify, or omit claims and factual allegations and to identify exhibits to Plaintiff's earlier-filed Second Amended Complaint in a piecemeal fashion. (Doc. Nos. 44, 45, 49, 50, 51, 52.)

         II. Discussion

         A. Plaintiff's Failure to Obey Court Orders to File A Single Amended Complaint

         Local Rule 110 provides that “[f]ailure . . . 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 . . . within the inherent power of the Court.” District courts have the inherent power to control their dockets and “[i]n the exercise of that power they may impose sanctions including, where appropriate, . . . dismissal.” Thompson v. Housing Auth., 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, failure to obey a court order, or failure to comply with local rules. See, e.g., Ghazali v. Moran, 46 F.3d 52, 53-54 (9th Cir. 1995) (dismissal for noncompliance with local rule); Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1260-61 (9th Cir. 1992) (dismissal for failure to comply with an order requiring amendment of complaint); Malone v. U.S. Postal Serv., 833 F.2d 128, 130-33 (9th Cir. 1987) (dismissal for failure to comply with court order).

         In determining whether to dismiss an action, the Court must consider several factors: (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 v. Duncan, 779 F.2d 1421, 1423 (9th Cir. 1986); Carey v. King, 856 F.2d 1439, 1440 (9th Cir. 1988).

         Here, the action has been pending since June 19, 2017, and the Court has been unable to screen Plaintiff's complaint due to his repeated failure to comply with this Court's orders. Despite being informed that the Court can only consider a single complaint that is complete within itself, Plaintiff continues to make piecemeal allegations in numerous filings. (See Doc. Nos. 44, 45, 49, 50, 51.) The Court has twice advised Plaintiff that it cannot screen Plaintiff's complaint because it remains entirely unclear which claims Plaintiff intends to pursue. (See Doc. Nos. 31, 41.) The Court cannot hold this case in abeyance awaiting compliance by Plaintiff. Thus, the Court finds that both the first and second factors weigh in favor of dismissal.

         The third factor, risk of prejudice to defendant, also weighs in favor of dismissal, as a presumption of injury arises from the occurrence of unreasonable delay in prosecuting an action. Anderson v. Air West, 542 F.2d 522, 524 (9th Cir. 1976). The fourth factor usually weighs against dismissal because public policy favors disposition on the merits. Pagtalunan v. Galaza,291 F.3d 639, 643 (9th Cir. 2002). However, ‚Äúthis factor lends little support to a party whose responsibility it is to move a case toward disposition on the merits but whose conduct impedes progress ...


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