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Thomas v. City of Columbus

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

February 14, 2018

LONNIE E. THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF COLUMBUS, et al., Defendants.

          KIMBERLY A. JOLSON MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          OPINION AND ORDER

          EDMUND A. SARGUS, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On January 25 and 29, 2018, the Court issued orders directing Plaintiff Lonnie E. Thomas to show cause why his case should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute. Because Plaintiff has failed to prosecute his case-and failed to show good cause why his case should not be dismissed for that lack of prosecution-the Court DISMISSES Plaintiffs case with prejudice.

         I.

         Plaintiff filed this case on June 30, 2015. (Compl. at 1 [ECF No. 1].) In January 2017, a year and a half into the case, Plaintiff discharged his attorney. (See Order Granting Mot. to Withdraw at 1 [ECF No. 75].) The Court granted Plaintiffs counsel leave to withdraw and, soon after, issued an order scheduling the settlement conference for October 23, 2017, and the trial for December 4, 2017. (Order Setting Trial Date at 1 [ECF No. 77].)

         Plaintiff represented to the Court that he wanted to find new counsel. (See Mot. for Extension at 1 [ECF No. 78].) But as of October 11, 2017, no new counsel had made an appearance for Plaintiff. (Order Directing Resp. at 1 [ECF No. 81].) Because the settlement conference was only two weeks away and the other pretrial deadlines were quickly approaching, the Court ordered Plaintiff to inform it within seven days whether he was going to retain new counsel for trial. (Id.)

         Plaintiff did not inform the Court within seven days whether he was going to retain new counsel. (Jan. 25, 2018 Order at 1 [ECF No. 91].) Instead, Plaintiff informed the Court at the settlement conference that he had not obtained new counsel but was still interested in finding representation. (Id.) To accommodate Plaintiff, the Court issued an amended scheduling order resetting the trial from December 4, 2017, to February 5, 2018. (See Am. Order Setting Trial Date at 1 [ECF No. 84].) The Court informed Plaintiff that the new trial date was firm and would not be changed because of Plaintiff s inability to find representation. (Jan. 25, 2018 Order at 1.)

         Following the settlement conference, Plaintiff did not communicate with the Court or comply with any of the pretrial deadlines contained in the amended scheduling order. (Jan. 25, 2018 Order at 2.) To determine whether Plaintiff still intended to take his case to trial, the Court scheduled a telephonic status conference for January 25, 2018. (Notice at 1 [ECF No. 89].) The Court notified Plaintiff of the status conference by email and regular mail. (Jan. 25, 2018 Order at 2.) In its email, the Court directed Plaintiff to indicate in advance of the call whether he intended to try his case and, if so, whether he would use counsel or proceed pro se. Plaintiff did not join the conference call. (Id.) Nor did he comply with the Court's email instruction or communicate with the Court regarding his absence from the call. (See id.)

         Later on January 25, the Court ordered Plaintiff to show cause within five business days why his case should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute. (Jan. 25, 2018 Order at 2.) Plaintiffs failure to respond would result in the case being dismissed with prejudice, the Court warned. (Id.)

         Plaintiff responded within a day to the January 25 Order. (PL's Resp. at 1 [ECF No. 92].) He indicated that he was attempting to find representation but had been unsuccessful so far. (Id.) And he requested that the Court stay the case for one year so he could find a lawyer willing to represent him. (Id.)

         Defendants responded to Plaintiffs filing and urged the Court to deny the request for a one-year stay. (Defs/ Resp. at 4 [ECF No. 93].) Instead of staying the case, the Court should dismiss it with prejudice, Defendants argued. (Id.)

         On January 29, the Court denied Plaintiffs request for a stay and explained that Plaintiffs response had not shown good cause to avoid dismissal. (Jan. 29, 2018 Order at 1 [ECF No. 94].) The Court reminded Plaintiff that when it amended the scheduling order and reset the trial date, the Court had emphasized that the new trial date was firm and would not be changed because of his inability to find representation. (Id.) The Court had informed Plaintiff that he had two options: (1) try his case on February 5, with or without counsel, or (2) dismiss his case. (Id.) Even though Plaintiff had not shown good cause in his response, the Court gave Plaintiff one more opportunity to save his case. In its January 29 Order, the Court directed Plaintiff to show cause within seven days why his case should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute. (Jan. 29, 2018 Order at 2.) The Court again warned Plaintiff that his failure to show good cause would result in his case being dismissed with prejudice. (Id.)

         More than seven days have now passed, and Plaintiff has still not ...


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