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RODRIGUEZ v. CITY OF NEW YORK

United States District Court, S.D. New York


January 14, 2004.

ADA RODRIGUEZ, et ano., Plaintiffs, -against- THE CITY OF NEW YORK, et al., Defendants

The opinion of the court was delivered by: LEWIS KAPLAN, District Judge

ORDER

On April 14, 2003, well after the commencement of this action, the Court entered a scheduling order requiring completion of discovery by July 14, 2003 and the filing of a joint pretrial order by August 14, 2003. These deadlines were extended by 28 days by memo endorsement dated July 9, 2003.

Plaintiffs then had a falling out with their counsel. By order dated August 13, 2003, the Court granted their attorney's motion for leave to withdraw, stayed the action until September 20, 2003 to enable plaintiffs' to retain new counsel, and extended the discovery deadline until December 1, 2003. These dates then were extended, by order dated September 23, 2003, by another 60 days.

  The Court was advised by letter dated December 9, 2003, copied to the plaintiffs, that plaintiffs have not retained counsel and have done nothing further in this matter. Plaintiffs did not respond to the letter. Accordingly, on December 18, 2003, the Court directed plaintiffs to show cause, on or before December 31, 2003, why this action should not be dismissed for lack of prosecution.

  Plaintiffs, by letter dated January 7, 2004, oppose dismissal. They claim that they "have not received any of the Court's orders entered in this action" save that of December 18, which they claim first to have received on January 7, 2004. And while they claim that they are proceeding pro se since the withdrawal of the attorney, the January 7, 2004 letter appears to have been drafted by an attorney.

  The plaintiffs now have had many months in which to retain counsel. They have not done so. The Court certainly does not assume that this is their fault. Many prospective litigants in civil cases cannot find counsel whom they can afford, and the availability of counsel willing and able to take their cases free or on contingency bases is limited. Nevertheless, plaintiffs do not have an unlimited right to subject any defendant to the indefinite pendency of their lawsuit, with no ability to move it to resolution, simply because the plaintiffs have not found a lawyer. Plaintiffs must either proceed with Page 2 the action as best they can or suffer dismissal.*fn1

  The Court will give plaintiffs the benefit of the doubt concerning their professed ignorance of what has transpired in the action. Moreover, the Pro Se Office stands ready to assist plaintiffs. Nevertheless, the action will proceed as follows:

  1. Plaintiffs are responsible for knowledge of and compliance with any and all orders issued by the Court, regardless of whether they are mailed to them by the Clerk or received through the mails. Orders are posted to the docket sheet and available in the Clerk's Office. They are available over the Internet through the Courtweb system, which is on the Court's web site, the URL for which is <www.nysd.uscourts.gov.>

  2. Regardless of whether plaintiffs find counsel, all fact discovery in this action shall be concluded, and any expert reports served, on or before June 1, 2004. Rebuttal expert reports, if any, shall be served no later than June 22, 2004. Depositions of experts shall be concluded no later than July 15, 2004.

  3. The joint pretrial order, in the form prescribed in the individual practices of the undersigned (which are available from the Clerk and at the Court's Internet web site), and any motions for summary judgment shall be filed on or before August 2, 2004. Plaintiffs shall furnish defendants' counsel, no later than July 22, 2004, with their witness and exhibit lists and contentions and their proposed statement of the issues to be tried and proposed stipulations in order that the defendants may complete the joint pretrial order.

  4. Any failure to comply with this or any other order of this Court may result in the imposition of sanctions, which may include dismissal of the action with prejudice.

  SO ORDERED.


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