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Morris v. Singleton

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

May 21, 2018

LARRY MORRIS, JR. PLAINTIFF
v.
SHERRIFF JAMES A. SINGLETON; CAPTAIN JOHNNY GODBOLT; LT. HEATH ROSS; SGT. MARCIA HARDEMAN; SGT. KYLE MALONE; OFFICER ALVIS MILLS; OFFICER MATTHEW TURBERVILLE; ADVANCED PRACTICE NURSE JOAN MCCLAIN; NURSE LAURIE DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          Susan O. Hickey United States District Judge

         Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation issued April 26, 2018, by the Honorable James R. Marschewski, United States Magistrate Judge for the Western District of Arkansas. (ECF No. 34). Plaintiff Larry Morris, Jr. has filed objections. (ECF No. 35). The Court finds the matter ripe for consideration.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On December 20, 2016, Plaintiff filed this case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that he was subjected to constitutional violations during his incarceration at the Hempstead County Detention Center. Specifically, Plaintiff asserts claims of deliberate indifference, excessive force, denial of access to the courts, conditions of confinement, and retaliation.

         On December 18, 2017, Defendants Singleton, Godbolt, Ross, Hardeman, Malone, Mills, Turberville, Mclean, and Laurie filed a motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 22). On December 19, 2017, the Court entered an order directing Plaintiff to respond to the summary judgment motion by January 9, 2018. (ECF No. 25). Plaintiff was further advised that failure to comply with the order could result in the dismissal of his case. This order was not returned as undeliverable.

         On January 17, 2018, Plaintiff filed a motion for an extension of time to file his response to the summary judgment motion. (ECF No. 26). On January 18, 2018, the Court extended Plaintiff's time to respond to February 8, 2018. (ECF No. 27). On February 26, 2018, Plaintiff filed a second motion for extension of time. (ECF No. 30). On March 22, 2018, the Court extended Plaintiff's time to respond to the summary judgment motion to April 6, 2018. (ECF No. 33). To date, Plaintiff has not filed a response to the summary judgment motion.

         On April 26, 2018, Judge Marschewski issued the instant Report and Recommendation, finding that Plaintiff failed to comply with the Court's order to file a response to the summary judgment motion, despite receiving two extensions of time in which to do so. Judge Marschewski found further that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Local Rules contemplate dismissal of a case when a plaintiff fails to obey a court order. Accordingly, Judge Marschewski concluded that Plaintiff's case should be dismissed without prejudice for his failure to obey the Court's order.

         On May 14, 2018, Plaintiff filed objections to the Report and Recommendation. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 646(b)(1), the Court will conduct a de novo review of all issues related to Plaintiff's specific objections.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff objects to the Report and Recommendation on the basis that he underwent surgery, which delayed his ability to properly respond to the summary judgment motion. Plaintiff also states that he does not have legal assistance because the Court has denied his motions for appointment of counsel and because he currently does not have access to other inmates who previously assisted him in litigating this case. In light of this, Plaintiff asks the Court for an additional extension of time in which to respond to the summary judgment motion. Plaintiff also appears to request a stay of this case in order for him to obtain aid in proceeding further.

         Plaintiff also requests an extension of time in which to conduct discovery, citing Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 and stressing his need to gather evidence in support of his response to the summary judgment motion.[1] Plaintiff states that he previously requested an extension during discovery, but that the request was denied.[2]

         Although pro se pleadings are to be construed liberally, a pro se litigant is not excused from complying with substantive and procedural law. Burgs v. Sissel, 745 F.2d 526, 528 (8th Cir. 1984). The Local Rules state in pertinent part:

It is the duty of any party not represented by counsel to promptly notify the Clerk and the other parties to the proceedings of any change in his or her address, to monitor the progress of the case, and to prosecute or defend the action diligently . . . If any communication from the Court to a pro se plaintiff is not responded to within thirty (30) days, the case may be dismissed without prejudice. Any party ...

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