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McKinney v. Napier

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

February 13, 2019

ROBERT WILLIS MCKINNEY, Plaintiff,
v.
ANGELA NAPIER, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH M. HOOD, SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Robert Willis McKinney, a former state inmate proceeding pro se, filed this action on January 17, 2017, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging various civil rights abuses while he was incarcerated at the Northpoint Training Center, a state detention facility. Kentucky Department of Corrections records indicate that McKinney was released on parole in September 2018. But McKinney has failed to update his mailing address with the Court and has not responded to a recent order to show cause. As a result, after weighing the relevant factors, McKinney's failure to prosecute justifies dismissal of this civil action with prejudice pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b).

         I. Procedural Background

         This case, originally filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, was transferred to this Court on January 25, 2018. [DE 61]. Currently, the only remaining Defendant in the action is Angela Napier, a former employee at Northpoint.

         On July 18, 2018, the Court entered a scheduling order in this matter. [DE 112]. Pursuant to the scheduling order, the parties were to complete pretrial discovery on or before November 29, 2018, and file dispositive motions, if any, on or before December 19, 2018. [Id.]. Neither party has indicated that any discovery has occurred in this matter since the scheduling order was entered. Furthermore, neither party has filed dispositive motions. Additionally, there has been no docket activity initiated by either party since July 2018. [See DE 113].

         Recently, the Court ordered the Plaintiff to show cause why the matter should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim. [DE 115]. A notice from the Clerk's Office indicates that the order was mailed to McKinney's last known address and was returned as undeliverable. [DE 116]. A search of the Kentucky Offender Online Lookup System indicates that McKinney was released on parole on or around September 4, 2018. Kentucky Department of Corrections, KOOL: Kentucky Online Offender Lookup, http://kool.corrections.ky.gov/KOOL/Details/99996, last visited December 12, 2019.

         As of this writing, McKinney has not responded to the Court's order to show cause and the time to respond has passed. [See DE 115]. Additionally, there is no indication that McKinney has updated his mailing address or contact information with the Court Clerk since he was released on parole. As a result, this matter is ripe for review.

         II. Analysis

         At this juncture, it does not appear that McKinney is interested in continuing to prosecute this action. McKinney has failed to comply with the Court's scheduling order and has failed to respond to the Court's recent order to show cause. Furthermore, mail sent to McKinney has been returned as undeliverable, even though, as a pro se filer, McKinney has an obligation to update the Court Clerk about any address changes.

         Federal Rule of Civil procedure 41(b) “gives courts the authority to dismiss a case for ‘failure of the plaintiff to prosecute or to comply with these rules or any order of the court.'” Knoll v. Am. Tel. & Tel. Co., 176 F.3d 359, 362-63 (6th Cir. 1999) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b)). The Sixth Circuit has held that district courts must be given substantial discretion in docket management and avoidance of unnecessary burdens on tax-supported courts and opposing parties. Id. at 363 (citing Matter of Sanction of Baker, 744 F.2d 1438, 1441 (10th Cir. 1984)).

         Four factors are to be considered when determining whether an action should be dismissed for failure to prosecute: “(1) whether the party's failure is due to willfulness, bad faith, or fault; (2) whether the adversary was prejudiced by the dismissed party's conduct; (3) whether the dismissed party was warned that failure to cooperate could lead to dismissal; and (4) whether less drastic sanctions were imposed or considered before dismissal of the action.” Mulbah v. Detroit Bd. of Educ., 261 F.3d 586, 589 (6th Cir. 2001). The relevant factors are considered below.

         A. McKinney's Failure to Cooperate and Comply with Court Orders is Due to Fault

         While the Court hesitates to impute willfulness or bad faith on the part of the Plaintiff for failure to respond and prosecute this matter, there is a clear indication that the failure to prosecute in this matter is due to the fault of the Plaintiff. The record indicates that the Court's scheduling order, entered on July 18, 2018, was served on the Plaintiff. [See DE 112].

         Additionally, as a pro se filer, the Plaintiff has an obligation to update the Court of any change in address or contact information. The initial scheduling order entered in the Western District of Kentucky stated: “Plaintiff is WARNED that his failure to notify the Clerk of Court of any address change or failure to comply with this or any subsequent order of the Court MAY RESULT IN A DISMISSAL OF THIS CASE.” [DE 10 at 4, Pg Id. 111]. McKinney was clearly aware of this ...


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