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A&I Int'l Trading Corp. v. Carrington Sales Co.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

April 21, 2014

A&I INT'L TRADING CORP., Plaintiff,
v.
CARRINGTON SALES CO. et al., Defendant.

OPINION

THOMAS P. GRIEFA, District Judge.

Plaintiff A&I International Trading Corporation brings this action alleging fraud and breach of contract by defendants Carrington Sales Company and Ari Ben-Menashe.

More than 11 years after plaintiff last contacted this court, defendants move to dismiss the case with prejudice for lack of prosecution. The motion is granted.

Background

A&I filed its complaint on June 26, 1996, in the Southern District of New York. The complaint alleges fraud and breach of contract based on defendants' conduct in "late 1995." Allegedly Ben-Menashe, on behalf of Carrington Sales, made misrepresentations to A&I in the course of contract negotiations. The case was assigned to Judge Knapp.

On August 22, 1996, defendants moved to dismiss the case or to compel arbitration. In response, on October 7, 1996, A&I requested that if the court compelled arbitration, the parties should arbitrate in New York City. In November 1996, before the court ruled on the motion, the parties agreed to arbitrate their dispute.

Nothing happened in this case for the next five years. On November 11, 2001, the case was transferred to Judge Griesa's docket. In December 2001, A&I advised defendants that it intended to pursue arbitration. The arbitrator dismissed the claims against Ben-Menashe, and Carrington later withdrew from the arbitration. (The parties dispute whether Carrington's withdrawal was proper, but it is the timing, not the propriety, of the withdrawal that is relevant here.) In June 2002, plaintiff's counsel sent a letter to the court advising of the status of the arbitration. Plaintiff's counsel also called the court "about two times" to check on the status of the case.

On May 31, 2005, after nearly 3 years without any activity on the docket, the court administratively closed the case. This closure did not constitute a dismissal of the case or affect the parties' rights in the litigation.

Nothing else happened in the case until May 24, 2013-nearly 17 years after filing the complaint and 11 years after the arbitration concluded-when A&I wrote to the court, requesting that the court reopen the case.

On September 18, 2013, defendants moved to dismiss the case for lack of prosecution.

Discussion

In the exercise of its broad discretion "to achieve the orderly and expeditious resolution of cases, " Link v. Wabash R.R. Co. , 370 U.S. 626, 630-31 (1962), a district court is authorized to dismiss a case for lack of prosecution, Theilmann v. Rutland Hosp., Inc. , 455 F.2d 853, 855 (2d Cir. 1972); see Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b). In deciding the motion, the district court should consider whether:

(1) the plaintiff's failure to prosecute caused a delay of significant duration; (2) plaintiff was given notice that further delay would result in dismissal; (3) defendant was likely to be prejudiced by further delay; (4) the need to alleviate court calendar congestion was carefully balanced against plaintiff's right to an opportunity for a day in court; and (5) the trial court adequately assessed the efficacy of lesser sanctions."

Ruzsa v. Rubenstein & Sendy Attys at Law , 520 F.3d 176, 177 (2d Cir. 2008) (per curiam). No single factor is dispositive, and ultimately the court must decide if dismissal is appropriate in light of the record as a whole. United States ex rel. ...


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