The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Court Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING IN PART THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS; DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT WITHOUT PREJUDICE
This matter comes before the court on the defendant's motion to dismiss the pro se plaintiff's complaint for failure to prosecute or to comply with the court's order and rules. For over a year, this case has remained in limbo while the court waited on the plaintiff to clarify whether he definitively sought to voluntarily dismiss his action, as he had originally represented to the court. Because the plaintiff has failed to contest the defendant's motion to dismiss, and given the procedural history of this case as recited below, the court dismisses without prejudice the plaintiff's action.
In February 2010, the plaintiff commenced an action in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in response to an altercation that he had with Dr. Michael Smith, a fellow employee at the Department of Defense.*fn1 Compl. ¶¶ 5-10. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant is liable for various torts allegedly committed by Dr. Smith, namely, assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotion distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress. See generally id. In May 2010, the defendant removed the plaintiff's action to this court. See generally Notice of Removal. Soon thereafter, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. See generally Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss.
Instead of filing an opposition, however, the plaintiff filed a notice of voluntary dismissal requesting that his case "be dismissed in its entirety without prejudice." See Pl.'s Req. for Dismissal at 1. In light of the plaintiff's notice of voluntary dismissal, the court denied the defendant's motion to dismiss as moot. See Minute Order (Dec. 30, 2010).
The court noted, however, that the plaintiff's request for dismissal had failed to meet the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a), which controls the dismissal of a civil action by the plaintiff. Minute Order (Sept. 15, 2010). Under Rule 41(a), a plaintiff may request dismissal by filing a stipulation of dismissal that is signed by all of the parties. See FED. R. CIV. P. 41(a)(1). Alternatively, Rule 41(a)(2) allows a plaintiff to voluntarily dismiss a case by requesting a court order to that effect. See id. 41(a)(2). Here, the plaintiff failed to utilize either procedure available under Rule 41(a), instead filing a "request for dismissal" that was neither accompanied by a motion nor a stipulation signed by all of the parties. See Pl.'s Req. for Dismissal. Consequently, the court ordered the plaintiff to re-file his request for voluntary dismissal according to Rule 41(a). See Minute Order (Sept. 15, 2010).
After five months elapsed with no response from the plaintiff, the court again ordered the plaintiff to respond to the court's September 15, 2010 order or risk the dismissal of his case. See Minute Order (Feb. 1, 2011). This time the plaintiff responded, cryptically explaining to the court that he refused to provide his counsel with the "authority . . . to file a dismissal under Rule 41(a) or to otherwise file a substantive response to the Order issued on September 15, 2010." See Pl.'s Response ¶ 6. In response, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss with prejudice pursuant to Rule 41(b). See Def.'s 2d Mot. to Dismiss.
The plaintiff did not timely file an opposition to the defendant's motion. Instead, the plaintiff's counsel filed a motion to withdraw as the plaintiff's attorney, explaining that the plaintiff and his counsel were "no longer able to effectively communicate about [the p]laintiff's case." Pl.'s Atty's Mot. to Withdraw as Atty (Mar. 28, 2011). The plaintiff simultaneously sought an extension of time to respond to the defendant's motion to dismiss under 41(b). Id. The court granted the withdrawal on the condition that the plaintiff's counsel explain to his client that failure to meet the court's deadline would likely result in the dismissal of the plaintiff's case. Minute Order (Apr. 4, 2011). Additionally, the court allowed the plaintiff an extension of time to respond to the defendant's motion to dismiss, ordering that the plaintiff respond to the defendant's motion no later than April 27, 2011. Id.
Since that time, the plaintiff has proceeded pro se and has yet to file an opposition to the defendant's motion to dismiss under Rule 41(b). With the defendant's motion ripe for consideration, the court turns to the defendant's arguments and the applicable legal standards.
A. Legal Standard for Dismissal of a Pro Se Complaint for Failure to Prosecute
A court acts in its discretion by dismissing a complaint, either with or without prejudice, when a plaintiff fails to prosecute his or her case, fails to follow the rules of the court or fails to follow the court's orders. FED. R. CIV. P. 41(b); LCvR 83.23. Although "dismissal may be an unduly severe sanction for a single episode of misconduct," a court acts properly in dismissing a case "when lesser sanctions would not serve the interest of justice." Bristol Petroleum Corp. v. Harris, 901 F.2d 165, 167 (D.C. Cir. 1990). In determining whether a dismissal is warranted, the court considers "the effect of a plaintiff's dilatory or contumacious conduct on the ...