United States District Court, D. Montana, Helena Division
THOMAS J. BRAATON, Plaintiff,
CCA OF SHELBY, MT., STATE OF MONTANA, SHELBY MEDICAL CENTER X-RAY TECH, OFFICER MATHUE CLARK, CITY OF SHELBY, and SHELBY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, Defendants.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES
Johnston United States Magistrate Judge
Thomas Braaton filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983 alleging Officer Clark interfered with his medical
treatment by refusing to remove Mr. Braaton's handcuffs
and chains during a CT scan causing injury to his arm.
(Complaint, Doc. 1.) The Court issued an Order on January 26,
2018 finding that Mr. Braaton's allegations against
Defendant Clark were sufficient to state a claim and would be
served upon Defendant Clark in a subsequent order. The Court
also found, however, that Mr. Braaton had not made any
allegations against Defendants CCA, the State of Montana, the
City of Shelby, the Shelby Medical Center, or the Shelby
Sheriff's Office and therefore they were subject to
dismissal. In addition, the Court determined that Mr. Braaton
had not provided sufficient information to identify the
“x-ray tech” named as a Defendant. (Doc. 9.)
Braaton was given an opportunity to amend his deficient
claims but was instructed that if he preferred to proceed
only on his allegations against Defendant Clark, he must
notify the Court and those claims would be served upon
Defendant Clark. Mr. Braaton did not respond to the
Court's Order. Mr. Braaton was instructed in the
Court's prior Order that if he failed to timely comply
with every provision of the Court's Order, the case may
be dismissed. Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258,
1260-61 (9th Cir. 1992) (court may dismiss an action for
failure to comply with any order of the court). Accordingly,
on April 9, 2018, the Court issued an Order requiring Mr.
Braaton to show cause on or before May 4, 2018 why this
matter should not be dismissed for failure to comply with the
Court's January 26, 2018 Order. (Doc. 10.) Mr. Braaton
did not respond.
Court has the inherent power to sua sponte dismiss a case for
lack of prosecution or failure to comply with a court order.
Henderson v. Duncan, 779 F.2d 1421, 1423 (9th Cir.
1986); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b); Ferdik v.
Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1260 (9th Cir. 1992).
Dismissal, however, is a harsh penalty and should be imposed
as a sanction only in extreme circumstances.
Henderson, 779 F.2d at 1423.
following factors must be considered before dismissal is
imposed as a sanction for failure to prosecute or failure to
comply with a court order: (1) the public's interest in
expeditious resolution of litigation; (2) the court's
need to manage its docket; (3) the risk of prejudice to the
defendants/respondents; (4) the availability of less drastic
alternatives; and (5) the public policy favoring disposition
of cases on their merits. Pagtalunan v. Galaza, 291
F.3d 639 (9th Cir. 2002) (citing Ferdik, 963 F.2d at
public's interest in expeditious resolution of litigation
always favors dismissal.” Yourish v. California
Amplifier, 191 F.3d 983, 990 (9th Cir. 1999). Mr.
Braaton's failure to respond to January 26, 2018 Order
suggests he is no longer interested in prosecuting this
action. As such, this matter could linger indefinitely. This
factor weighs in favor of dismissal.
second factor also supports dismissal. The Ninth Circuit has
noted that “[i]t is incumbent upon us to preserve the
district courts' power to manage their docket without
being subject to the endless vexatious noncompliance of
litigants. . . .” Ferdik, 963 F.2d at 1261.
“The trial judge is in the best position to determine
whether the delay in a particular case interferes with docket
management and the public interest.”
Pagtalunan, 291 F.3d 639 (citing Yourish,
191 F.3d 983). The Court must be able to manage its docket
and it cannot do so if Mr. Braaton refuses to respond to
Court Orders and refuses to comply with Court imposed
deadlines. Therefore, this factor favors dismissal.
third factor requires the Court to weigh the risk of
prejudice to Defendants. “To prove prejudice, a
defendant must establish that plaintiff's actions
impaired defendant's ability to proceed to trial or
threatened to interfere with the rightful decision of the
case.” Malone v. United States Postal Service,
833 F.2d 128, 131 (9th Cir. 1987). Mr. Braaton's refusal
to litigate this matter makes prejudice a foregone
conclusion. The longer this matter sits, the more prejudice
Court has considered and provided less drastic alternatives.
Alternatives may include “allowing further amended
complaints, allowing additional time, or insisting that
appellant associate experienced counsel.” Nevijel
v. North Coast Life Insurance Co., 651 F.2d 671, 674
(9th Cir. 1981). Although less drastic alternatives to
dismissal should be considered, the court is not required to
exhaust all such alternatives prior to dismissal.
Id. The Court gave Mr. Braaton the opportunity to
show cause why this matter should not be dismissed for
failure to prosecute and warned him about the consequences of
not responding to the Court's Order. (Doc. 10.) Mr.
Braaton did not respond. The Court can envision no further
alternatives to dismissal.
last factor weighs against dismissal because public policy
favors the disposition of cases on their merits.
Pagtalunan, 291 F.3d 639 (citing Hernandez v.
City of El Monte, 138 F.3d 393, 399 (9th Cir. 1998)).
But in light of the other four factors favoring dismissal,
the Court finds that this matter should be dismissed for
failure to prosecute and failure to comply with the
upon the foregoing, the Court issues the following:
1. This matter should be DISMISSED pursuant to Rule 41(b) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Clerk of Court
should be directed to close the case and enter judgment
pursuant to Rule 58 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
2. The Clerk of Court should be directed to have the docket
reflect that the Court certifies pursuant to Rule 24(a)(3)(A)
of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure that any appeal