United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
RICKEY LAVELL JENNINGS (BOP Register No. 55384-177), Plaintiff,
LUPE VALDEZ, Defendant.
FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
L. HORAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
pro se civil rights action has been referred to the
undersigned United States magistrate judge for pretrial
management under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and a standing order
of reference from United States District Judge David C.
Rickey Lavell Jennings, a federal prisoner, brings claims
against former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez concerning
medical care he received while at the Dallas County jail from
December 2016 to February 2017. See Dkt. No. 3.
Court granted his motion to proceed in forma
pauperis under the Prison Litigation Reform Act.
See Dkt. Nos. 4 & 5. And, on December 10, 2018,
entered a screening questionnaire to determine the nature of
his deliberate indifference claim and the liability, if any,
of Sheriff Valdez. See Dkt. No. 6.
that questionnaire, the Court ordered Jennings to file
verified responses to all questions no later than January 9,
2019 and warned him that “[f]ailure to provide complete
and verified answers to all questions may result in the
dismissal of this case for failure to prosecute under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b).” Id. at 1.
now almost one month past the deadline for Jennings to
comply, and he has yet to comply with the Court's order
or otherwise contact the Court.
undersigned therefore enters these findings of fact,
conclusions of law, and recommendation that the Court should
dismiss this action without prejudice under Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure 41(b).
Standards and Analysis
41(b) “authorizes the district court to dismiss an
action sua sponte for failure to prosecute or comply
with a court order.” Griggs v. S.G.E. Mgmt.,
L.L.C., 905 F.3d 835, 844 (5th Cir. 2018) (citing
McCullough v. Lynaugh, 835 F.2d 1126, 1127 (5th Cir.
1988) (per curiam)); accord Nottingham v. Warden, Bill
Clements Unit, 837 F.3d 438, 440 (5th Cir. 2016)
(failure to comply with a court order); Rosin v.
Thaler, 450 Fed.Appx. 383, 383-84 (5th Cir. 2011) (per
curiam) (failure to prosecute). That authority “flows
from the court's inherent power to control its docket and
prevent undue delays in the disposition of pending
cases.” Boudwin v. Graystone Ins. Co., Ltd.,
756 F.2d 399, 401 (5th Cir. 1985) (citing Link v. Wabash
R.R. Co., 370 U.S. 626 (1962)); see also Lopez v.
Ark. Cnty. Indep. Sch. Dist., 570 F.2d 541, 544 (5th
Cir. 1978) (“Although [Rule 41(b)] is phrased in terms
of dismissal on the motion of the defendant, it is clear that
the power is inherent in the court and may be exercised sua
sponte whenever necessary to ‘achieve the orderly and
expeditious disposition of cases.'” (quoting
Link, 370 U.S. at 631)).
41(b) dismissal may be with or without prejudice. See
Long v. Simmons, 77 F.3d 878, 879-80 (5th Cir. 1996).
Although “[l]esser sanctions such as fines or dismissal
without prejudice are usually appropriate before dismissing
with prejudice, ... a Rule 41(b) dismissal is appropriate
where there is ‘a clear record of delay or contumacious
conduct by the plaintiff and when lesser sanctions would not
serve the best interests of justice.'”
Nottingham, 837 F.3d at 441 (quoting Bryson v.
United States, 553 F.3d 402, 403 (5th Cir. 2008) (per
curiam) (in turn quoting Callip v. Harris Cnty. Child
Welfare Dep't, 757 F.2d 1513, 1521 (5th Cir.
1985))); see also Long, 77 F.3d at 880 (a dismissal
with prejudice is appropriate only if the failure to comply
with the court order was the result of purposeful delay or
contumacious conduct and the imposition of lesser sanctions
would be futile); cf. Nottingham, 837 F.3d at 442
(noting that “lesser sanctions” may
“‘include assessments of fines, costs, or damages
against the plaintiff, conditional dismissal, dismissal
without prejudice, and explicit warnings'” (quoting
Thrasher v. City of Amarillo, 709 F.3d 509, 514 (5th
dismissal is without prejudice but ‘the applicable
statute of limitations probably bars future litigation,
'” that dismissal operates as - i.e., it is
reviewed as - “a dismissal with prejudice.”
Griggs, 905 F.3d at 844 (quoting
Nottingham, 837 F.3d at 441).
responding to the questionnaire, as ordered by the Court, and
thereby preventing this action from proceeding, Jennings has
failed to prosecute his lawsuit and also has failed to obey a
court order. A Rule 41(b) dismissal of this lawsuit without
prejudice is warranted under these ...