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Taylor v. New York City Police Department

United States District Court, S.D. New York

June 15, 2017

RONALD G. TAYLOR and ROSE M. TAYLOR, Plaintiffs,
v.
NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT; JOHN AND JANE DOE OPERATIVES OF THE NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT; PATRICK CHAN, individually and in his official capacity within the New York City Housing Authority; ARALYN MASON, individually and in her official capacity within the New York City Housing Authority; RENEE WRIGHT, individually and in her official capacity within the New York City Housing Authority; NEW YORK CITY HUMAN RESOURCES ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF ADULT PROTECTIVE SERVICE; DET. TARAH BARRETT, Shield #2277; SGT. JUAN ORTIZ, Shield #05606; JOHN AND JANE DOE OPERATIVES OF THE HUMAN RESOURCES ADMINISTRATION, ADULT PROTECTIVE SERVICES DIVISION UP TO AND INCLUDING THE INDIVIDUAL WHO PURPORTED TO BE A PSYCHIATRIST ON 11/5/15; THE JOHN AND JANE DOE POLICE OFFICERS; P.O. JESSICA RIVERA, Shield #18470 Defendants.

          THE HORABLE PAUL A. CROTTY, U.S.D.J.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          JAMES C. FRANCIS IV UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         In this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiffs, Ronald G. Taylor and Rose M. Taylor, allege, among other things, that Mr. Taylor's Fourth and Eighth Amendment rights were violated when members of the New York City Police Department arrested him without probable cause on two occasions. Ms. Taylor alleges that her Fourth and Eighth Amendment rights were violated when members of the New York City Housing Authority allowed her apartment to become uninhabitable. The defendants seek dismissal of the complaint for failure to prosecute. I recommend that the motion be granted.

         Background

         It is the procedural history that is relevant here, rather than the substantive allegations of the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs filed their original complaint in March 2015. (Complaint at 1). In June 2016, I ordered the parties to complete discovery by December 30, 2016. (Order dated June 28, 2016 (“6/28/16 Order”) at 1). The parties have yet to complete discovery, principally because both plaintiffs have failed to attend depositions despite multiple attempts by the defendants to depose them.

         The plaintiffs' did not appear for depositions on December 6, 2016, and December 8, 2016. (Letter of David Ferrari dated Dec. 22, 2016 (“Ferrari 12/22/16 Letter”) at 2). Although the plaintiffs alerted the defendants that they were not going to attend these depositions, they did not offer alternative dates. (Ferrari 12/22/16 Letter at 2). According to defendants' counsel, the plaintiffs explained that they were “unable to comply with their discovery obligations because they have been inundated with seeking appropriate medical treatment for Plaintiff Rose Taylor.” (Ferrari 12/22/16 Letter at 2). Notwithstanding Ms. Taylor's purported medical treatment, the plaintiffs assured the defendants that they would comply with future discovery requests. (Ferrari 12/22/16 Letter at 2). In light of these assurances, the defendants, rather than moving for sanctions at that time, agreed to file a joint application to extend the discovery deadline. (Ferrari 12/22/16 Letter at 2). I granted the parties' request and extended the deadline to February 28, 2017. (Order dated Dec. 23, 2017).

         The plaintiffs next refused to appear for depositions on February 15, 2017, and February 16, 2017. (Letter of David Ferrari dated Feb. 14, 2017 (“Ferrari 2/14/17 Letter”) at 2). The plaintiffs stated that they were not going to attend these depositions unless the defendants agreed to pay for the costs associated with their appearances -- including meals and transportation. (Email of Ronald Taylor dated February 13, 2017 (“Taylor 2/13/17 Email”), attached to Letter of Ronald Taylor dated February 21, 2017, at 6).[1] In response to the email, the defendants filed a motion to compel the plaintiffs to appear for their depositions. (Ferrari 2/14/17 Letter at 2). I granted that motion and ordered the plaintiffs to appear for depositions on February 20, 2017 and February 22, 2017. (Order dated Feb. 15, 2017 (“2/15/17 Order”)). In that Order, I warned the plaintiffs that “[f]ailure to comply with this order shall result in sanctions, including possible dismissal of the complaint.” (2/15/17 Order). Later that day, after defense counsel realized that Mr. Taylor's deposition was scheduled for a federal holiday, the defendants requested to change the date of Mr. Taylor's deposition. (Letter of David Ferrari dated February 15, 2017). The next day, I granted that application and ordered Mr. Taylor to appear for his deposition on March 7, 2017 rather than February 22, 2017. (Order dated February 16, 2017 (2/16/17 Order”)). In that Order, I further warned Mr. Taylor that “[f]ailure to appear will result in sanctions, including possibly dismissal of the complaint. (2/16/17 Order).

         The plaintiffs did not appear for the depositions on February 22, 2017, and March 7, 2017. (Letter of David Ferrari dated March 13, 2017 (Ferrari “3/13/17 Letter”) at 2). In response, the defendants requested that I issue a report and recommendation to dismiss this matter with prejudice in response to the plaintiffs' failure to comply with Court orders and to prosecute this action. (Ferrari 3/13/17 Letter at 3). In the alternative, the defendants requested that I compel the plaintiffs to appear for depositions on pain of dismissal of the action. (Ferrari 3/13/17 Letter at 3). Instead of dismissing the case, I ordered the plaintiffs to appear for depositions on March 21, 2017, and March 23, 2017. (Memorandum Endorsement dated March 15, 2017 (“3/15/17 Memo Endorsement”) at 3). In that Order, I stated that “[s]ince the defendants appear willing to give the plaintiffs one last chance to avoid dismissal of this case, I am as well.” (3/15/17 Memo Endorsement at 3).

         The plaintiffs did not appear for the depositions on March 21, 2017, and March 23, 2017. (Letter of David Ferrari dated April 5, 2017 (“Ferrari 4/5/17 Letter”) at 3). In response, the defendants renewed their request that I issue a recommendation that this action be dismissed with prejudice. (Ferrari 4/5/17 Letter at 3).

         Discussion

         An action may be dismissed pursuant to Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “[i]f the plaintiff fails to prosecute or to comply with the[ ] rules or a court order.” The court's authority to dismiss for failure to prosecute “is vital to the efficient administration of judicial affairs and provides meaningful access for other prospective litigants to overcrowded courts.” Peterson v. Apple Inc., No. 12 Civ. 6467, 2013 WL 3467029, at *8 (S.D.N.Y. July 10, 2013) (quoting Lyell Theatre Corp. v. Loews Corp., 682 F.2d 37, 42 (2d Cir. 1982)). The discretion to dismiss under this rule is guided by five factors:

(1) the duration of the plaintiff's failure to comply with the court order, (2) whether plaintiff was on notice that failure to comply would result in dismissal, (3) whether the defendants are likely to be prejudiced by further delay in the proceedings, (4) a balancing of the court's interest in managing its docket with the plaintiff's interest in receiving a fair chance to be heard, and (5) whether the judge has adequately considered a sanction less drastic than dismissal.

Baptiste v. Sommers, 768 F.3d 212, 216 (2d Cir. 2014) (per curiam) (quoting Lucas v. Miles, 84 F.3d 532, 535 (2d Cir. 1996)). Generally, no single factor is dispositive. Id.

         Since dismissal with prejudice is a harsh sanction, a prose plaintiff's action should be dismissed under Rule 41(b) only if the circumstances are “sufficiently extreme.” Id. at 217 (quoting LeSane v. Hall's Security Analyst, Inc., 239 F.3d 206, 209 (2d Cir. 2001)). Furthermore, dismissal must be preceded “by particular procedural prerequisites, ” which include “notice of the sanctionable conduct, the standard by which it will be assessed, and an opportunity to be heard.” Mitchell v. LyonsProfessional Services, Inc., 708 F.3d 463, 467 (2d Cir. 2013). There must be “clear ...


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