United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
RANDOLPH D. MOSS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
over six months, Plaintiff Elaina Evans has had the
opportunity to respond to Defendant Howard University
Hospital's motion to dismiss or for summary judgment, and
after multiple orders from the Court, has failed to do so.
For the reasons discussed below, the Court will dismiss
Plaintiff's case without prejudice for failure to
prosecute under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) and
Local Civil Rule 83.23.
proceeding pro se, filed a complaint on February 17,
2017, alleging that her former employer, Howard University
Hospital, unlawfully terminated her after she took an
extended leave of absence to address family matters and
personal health concerns. Dkt. 1 at 1-2. Defendant timely
moved to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment
on April 18, 2017. Dkt. 7. The Court ordered Plaintiff to
respond to Defendant's motion on or before May 17, 2017,
and warned her that if she failed to timely respond, her case
could be dismissed for failure to prosecute. Dkt. 8 at 4.
Shortly before the deadline, Plaintiff moved for an
extension, Dkt. 9 at 1, which the Court granted, setting a
new deadline of July 17, 2017, Dkt. 10 at 1.
failed to file within the additional two months provided. A
week after her opposition was due, the Court issued an order
noting Plaintiff's failure to respond and providing her
an additional three weeks to do so. Minute Order (July 24,
2017). In that order, the Court again reminded Plaintiff that
it “may dismiss the complaint for failure to
prosecute” if Plaintiff failed to file within the time
provided. Id. She again failed to meet the
Court's deadline, and did not seek an extension or
otherwise communicate with the Court. See Dkt. 11.
On August 28, 2017, Defendant filed a notice of
Plaintiff's failure to respond and requested that her
complaint be dismissed with prejudice under Rule 41(b).
Id. at 1. As of today, eleven weeks have passed
since the Defendant filed its notice, and the Court has yet
to receive a response from Plaintiff or any indication that
she intends to pursue her claim.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b), it is within a
court's discretion to dismiss a complaint “[i]f the
plaintiff fails to prosecute or to comply with these rules or
a court order.” See also Local Civil Rule
83.23 (adopting the standard of Rule 41(b)). The court may
dismiss for failure to prosecute sua sponte or on a
defendant's motion. Peterson v. Archstone Cmtys.
LLC, 637 F.3d 416, 418 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (citing Link
v. Wabash R.R. Co., 370 U.S. 626, 629 (1962));
Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b). The authority to dismiss suits has long
been recognized as “necessary in order to prevent undue
delays in the disposition of pending cases and to avoid
congestion” in the courts. Link, 370 U.S. at
is warranted when, “in view of the entire procedural
history of the case, the litigant has not manifested
reasonable diligence in pursuing the cause.” Bomate
v. Ford Motor Co., 761 F.2d 713, 714 (D.C. Cir. 1985).
“A lengthy period of inactivity may . . . be enough to
justify dismissal, ” at least when “the plaintiff
has been previously warned that [she] must act with more
diligence, or if [she] has failed to obey the rules or court
orders.” Smith-Bey v. Cripe, 852 F.2d 592, 594
(D.C. Cir. 1988). Although dismissal for failure to prosecute
is a relatively “harsh sanction . . . ordinarily
limited to cases involving egregious conduct by particularly
dilatory plaintiffs, ” Angellino v. Royal Family
Al-Saud, 688 F.3d 771, 775 (D.C. Cir. 2012) (quoting
Peterson, 637 F.3d at 418), it is nonetheless
warranted “when lesser sanctions would not serve the
interest of justice, ” Bristol Petroleum Corp. v.
Harris, 901 F.2d 165, 167 (D.C. Cir. 1990).
Plaintiff's failure to respond to the Court's
repeated orders and her “lengthy period of inactivity,
” dismissal for failure to prosecute is appropriate.
Defendant filed its motion to dismiss or for summary judgment
on April 18, 2017, and this Court has not heard from
Plaintiff since she filed her motion for an extension on May
15, 2017-almost six months ago. This Court has twice advised
Plaintiff of the consequences of inaction, and Defendant
requested eleven weeks ago that the Court dismiss the action
for failure to prosecute, Dkt. 11 at 2. Plaintiff has made no
effort to justify her failure to respond to Defendant's
motion to dismiss or for summary judgment, to the Court's
orders requiring a response, or to Defendant's request
that the Court dismiss the action for failure to prosecute.
Indeed, she has done nothing to suggest that she intends to
pursue her case at all. In light of this procedural history,
it is apparent that Plaintiff “has not manifested
reasonable diligence in pursuing” her case, and that
her complaint should be dismissed.
Court's Local Rules provide that dismissals for failure
to prosecute should be made without prejudice unless the
delay in prosecution impairs the opposing party's
interests. Local Civil Rule 83.23. Defendant does not allege
that its interests will be impaired by dismissal without
prejudice, see Dkt. 11; accordingly, the Court sees
no reason to depart from this default rule, particularly in
light of Plaintiff's pro se status and personal
light of Plaintiff's failure to respond to
Defendant's motion to dismiss or for summary judgment and
to this Court's orders that she do so, it is hereby
ORDERED that this case is
DISMISSED without prejudice pursuant to Rule
41(b) and Local Civil Rule 83.23.