United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
PAMELA J. COLLINS, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
A. RUIZ, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
case is before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge
pursuant to an automatic referral under Local Rule 72.2(b).
As discussed below, Pro se Plaintiff Pamela J.
Collins (“Plaintiff” or “Claimant”)
has not filed a Brief on the Merits setting forth any
cognizable legal claims despite the court's Order giving
Plaintiff additional time to do so, and warning Plaintiff
that this case may be dismissed for failure to prosecute.
Accordingly, the undersigned RECOMMENDS that this case be
dismissed without prejudice.
February 12, 2016, Claimant protectively filed an application
for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits;
and, on the same day, she also filed an application for
disabled widow's benefits. (R. 9). On January 4, 2018, an
administrative law judge issued a decision denying
Claimant's applications, following administrative
proceedings and a hearing during which Claimant was
represented by counsel. Plaintiff, proceeding pro
se, filed a Complaint against the Commissioner of Social
Security (“Defendant” or
“Commissioner”) on October 1, 2018. (R. 1). On
December 10, 2018, the Commissioner timely filed her Answer
and the Transcript of Proceedings. (R. 8 & 9). Plaintiff
did not file a Brief on the Merits as required by this
court's Initial Order. (R. 6). On March 13, 2019, the
court ordered Plaintiff to file her Brief on the Merits no
later than April 3, 2019. (R. 10). Plaintiff was advised that
failure to do so could result in dismissal with prejudice for
want of prosecution. Id. On March 28, 2019,
Plaintiff filed a one-page handwritten letter in
lieu of a Brief on the Merits. The letter described
Plaintiff's personal circumstances, indicating that her
husband passed away seven years ago, she has financial
difficulties and works as a school bus driver, but otherwise
did not address or challenge the propriety of the
Commissioner's decision in any appreciable manner. (R.
11, PageID # 458).
Sixth Circuit has indicated that district courts have the
inherent power to enter a sua sponte order
dismissing an action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
41(b). Jourdan v. Jabe, 951 F.2d 108, 109 (6th Cir.
1991) (citing Link v. Wabash R.R., 370 U.S. 626,
630, 82 S.Ct. 1386, 1388, 8 L.Ed.2d 734 (1962); Carter v.
Memphis, 636 F.2d 159, 161 (6th Cir. 1980)).
In addition, Rule 16(f)(1)(C) of Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure authorizes courts to dismiss an action where a
party fails to comply with a court order. Fed.R.Civ.P.
(1) In General. On Motion on on its own, the court
may issue any just orders, including those authorized by Rule
37(b)(2)(A)(ii)-(vii), if a party or its attorney: ...
(C) fails to obey a scheduling or other pretrial order.
Rule 37 provides that the court may dismiss the action or
proceeding in whole or in part for failure to comply with a
court order. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2)(A)(v).
pro se plaintiffs are held to less stringent
standards than attorneys, cases filed by pro se
plaintiffs may still be dismissed if the plaintiff fails to
meet court orders. See Jourdan, 951 F.2d at 110
(concluding that pro se litigants are not to be
accorded with any special consideration when they fail to
comply with straight-forward procedural requirements and
Plaintiff filed the above-referenced letter within the
extended time-frame provided by the court, it fails to comply
with the court's Initial Order that required
Plaintiff's brief contain a statement of legal issues, a
statement of relevant facts, and an argument in support. (R.
6, PageID# 32-33). The Plaintiff's letter fails in all
three respects. The court is sympathetic to the circumstances
raised in Plaintiff's letter and appreciates that the
legal system is daunting for those without any legal
training, which is why pro se filings are entitled
to “liberal construction, ” and their filings
often times require “active interpretation.”
Franklin v. Rose, 765 F.2d 82, 85 (6th
1985) (citations omitted).
Nevertheless, it is also not the Court's function to
search the administrative record for evidence to support
Plaintiff's “argument” and find
inconsistencies. See McPherson v. Kelsey, 125 F.3d
989, 995-96 (6th Cir. 1997) (“[I]ssues
adverted to in a perfunctory manner, unaccompanied by some
effort at developed argumentation, are deemed waived. It is
not sufficient for a party to mention a possible argument in
the most skeletal way, leaving the court to put flesh on its
bones.”); Meridia Prods. Liab. Litig. v. Abbott
Labs., No. 04-4175, 2006 U.S.App. LEXIS 11680
(6th Cir. May 11, 2006). This ...