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Crawford v. Beaumont Hospital

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

February 27, 2017

ANITRA ELAINE CRAWFORD Plaintiff,
v.
BEAUMONT HOSPITAL, et al., Defendants.

         OPINION & ORDER (1) OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS (DKT. 43) TO THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S JANUARY 11, 2017 ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE; (2) ADOPTING THE RECOMMENDATION CONTAINED IN THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S JANUARY 26, 2017 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (DKT. 46); (3) OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS TO THE JANUARY 26, 2017 REPORT & RECOMMENDATION (DKT. 52); (4) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR EXTRAORDINARY RELIEF (DKT. 55); (5) TERMINATING ALL OTHER PENDING MOTIONS (DKTS. 14, 17, 21, 26, 61) AS MOOT; AND (6) DISMISSING THE ACTION WITH PREJUDICE

          MARK A. GOLDSMITH United States District Judge.

         On April 22, 2016, Plaintiff Anitra Crawford filed this action alleging violations of her civil rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and various federal and Michigan statutes. See generally Compl. (Dkt. 1). The case was referred to Magistrate Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis for all pretrial proceedings (Dkt. 8). Thereafter, Defendants filed motions to dismiss (Dkts. 14, 17, 21, 26, 61). On January 26, 2017, the magistrate judge issued a report and recommendation (“R&R”), which recommends dismissing Crawford's complaint with prejudice under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) and terminating the pending motions as moot. See R&R at 9 (Dkt. 46). Neither the merits of the complaint nor those of the motions to dismiss were at issue in the R&R. See generally id. Crawford timely filed an objection to the R&R (Dkt. 52). No defendant filed a response to Crawford's objection.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         Crawford's complaint named seven entities as defendants. See Compl. at 3. Additionally, the complaint named three natural persons who were employees of Defendant Beaumont Hospital and two who were employees of Defendant Department of Human Services (“DHS”) in Wayne County, as well as several John Does. Id. When Crawford submitted her request for service by U.S. Marshal, however, she did not identify any of the individual defendants. See generally Request for Service by Marshal (Dkt. 3); see also 4/28/2016 Order (granting request for service by marshal) (Dkt. 6). The U.S. Marshal Service acknowledged receipt of these documents (Dkt. 9), and a certificate of service issued on May 3, 2016 (Dkt. 11).

         By some error, Defendant Oakland Family Services (“OFS”) received the summons that was directed to Defendant DHS; this formed one basis for OFS's motion to dismiss. See DHS Summons, Ex. A to OFS Mot. to Dismiss (Dkt. 14-2); see generally OFS Mot. to Dismiss (raising personal jurisdiction, subject-matter jurisdiction, and Rule 12(b)(6) arguments). To date, OFS has not been served with a summons bearing its name, and DHS was not served until recently. Beaumont Hospital also filed a motion to dismiss, which noted that the summons it received did not identify its employees by name, and that, as a result, those employees are not properly before the Court. See Beaumont Mot. to Dismiss at 1 n.2.

         The R&R recommends dismissal of Crawford's case because of her inability to comply with deadlines set by court orders. See id. at 1-4. After OFS and Beaumont filed their motions to dismiss, the magistrate judge ordered Crawford to submit response briefs by June 20, 2016 (Dkts. 15, 19). On June 15, 2016, Crawford requested an extension of the June 20, 2016 deadline (Dkt. 23), which the magistrate judge granted, extending the deadlines to August 5, 2016; and on August 4, 2016, Crawford requested an extension of the August 5 deadlines (Dkt. 28), which the magistrate granted. At that point, Crawford's responses to four motions to dismiss were due by September 14, 2016, and Crawford had not yet violated any court order.

         On September 9, 2016, prior to the September 14 deadline, Crawford filed an untitled document, noting that an unspecified defendant had not yet been served. See 9/9/2016 Filing at 1-2 (Dkt. 34).[1] This filing apparently led the magistrate judge to scrutinize the complaint, notice that some of the defendants named in Crawford's complaint were never added as parties, and suspend all pending briefing deadlines. See 9/21/2016 Text-Only Order. On December 9, 2016, the magistrate judge noted that she had corrected the docket; outlined how Crawford could proceed with serving the defendants who still needed to be served; and revived the briefing schedule, ordering Crawford to submit her responses to four motions to dismiss by December 30, 2016 (Dkt. 35).[2]

         Crawford did not file a response to the motions by December 30, and she did not request an extension. Accordingly, on January 11, 2017, the magistrate judge ordered Crawford to show cause why her case should be not be dismissed. See Show Cause Order (Dkt. 38). Crawford's response to the show cause order, or, alternatively, her responses to the motions, was due by January 18, 2017, and the order warned her that a failure to respond could result in dismissal of her case. Id. at 1-2.

         On January 17, 2017, Crawford objected to the show cause order. See Pl. Show Cause Obj. (Dkt. 43); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). There, Crawford claimed that she decided not to file her responses with the Court because of her belief that there were outstanding “issues of [j]urisdiction/[v]enue.” See id. at 2. She also appeared to claim, incorrectly, that the missing parties still had not been added to the docket as defendants. Id. (“Another issue also noted is, properly addressing specified individual(s) as a Defendant(s)/Party.”).

         B. The Report & Recommendation

         The R&R invokes the authority of a district court to dismiss a plaintiff's action with prejudice because of her failure to prosecute. See R&R at 4-5 (citing Link v. Wabash R.R. Co., 370 U.S. 626, 630-632 (1962); Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b)). It notes that the Sixth Circuit considers four factors in reviewing the decision of a district court to dismiss a case 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 was ordered.

R&R at 6 (quoting Wu v. T.W. Wang, Inc., 420 F.3d 641, 643 (6th Cir. 2005)). First stating that “it is not clear whether plaintiff's failure to prosecute is due to willfulness, bad faith or fault, ” the R&R cites Crawford's “repeated failures to respond to the motions to dismiss” and concludes that these failures “amount[ ] to abandonment for purposes of this analysis.” Id. at 7 (citing White v. Bouchard, No. 05-73718, 2008 WL 2216281, at *5 (E.D. Mich. May 27, 2008) (“it is not clear whether plaintiff's failure to prosecute is due to willfulness, bad faith or fault; nonetheless, . . . defendants cannot be expected to defend an action which plaintiff has apparently abandoned, not to mention the investment of time and resources expended to defend this case”). In support of its conclusion that Crawford abandoned the case, the R&R notes that (i) Crawford violated the order setting a December 30, 2016 deadline for responses; (ii) the final deadline was over six months after the original June 20, 2016 deadline; (iii) Crawford's response to the show cause order does not identify, “nor does the court see, ” how Crawford's responses to the ...


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