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Darnell v. Jimenez

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division

June 19, 2017

JERRY LEE DARNELL PLAINTIFF
v.
JAIME JIMENEZ, DEFENDANTS

          ORDER ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S [42] REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION; DENYING PLAINTIFF'S [40] MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT; AND GIVING PLAINTIFF ONE FINAL OPPORTUNITY TO PROPERLY SERVE DEFENDANTS

          HALIL SULEYMAN OZERDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on the Report and Recommendation [42] of United States Magistrate Judge John C. Gargiulo, entered in this case on May 17, 2017, and the Motion for Default Judgment [40] filed by Plaintiff Jerry Lee Darnell on February 16, 2017. Based upon the Magistrate Judge's review of the record and relevant legal authority, he recommended that Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment [40] be denied, and that Plaintiff be given one final opportunity to serve Defendants and file proofs of such service. R. & R. [42] at 6. Should Plaintiff fail to complete service of process within a time specified by the Court, the Magistrate Judge recommended that unserved Defendants be dismissed without prejudice and without further notice to Plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff has not filed any objection to the Report and Recommendation [42], and the time for doing so has passed.

         For the reasons that follow, the Court finds that the Report and Recommendation [42] should be adopted in its entirety as the finding of this Court, that Plaintiff's Motion [40] for Default Judgment should be denied, and that Plaintiff should be given one final opportunity to properly serve Defendants and file proper proofs of such service with the Clerk of Court, all in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4 and all on or before August 3, 2017. Plaintiff is warned that should he fail to properly serve any Defendant or fail to file a proper proof of service in the record as to any Defendant by August 3, 2017, that Defendant will be dismissed without prejudice, without further notice to Plaintiff.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Jerry Lee Darnell (“Plaintiff”) is an inmate currently incarcerated with the Mississippi Department of Corrections (“MDOC”) at Winston-Choctaw County Regional Correctional Institution (“WCCRCF”) in Louisville, Mississippi. On February 3, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint [1] alleging numerous violations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Complaint named as Defendants Dr. Jaime Jimenez, Southern Eye Center; Nurse Hardy; Dr. Ronald Woodall; Joseph Cooley, Investigator II and Director of Administrative Remedy Program; South Mississippi Correctional Institution (“SMCI”); Latasha Clay, Legal Department; and Officer Greene, Transport.

         On February 23, 2016, the Court denied Plaintiff leave to proceed in forma pauperis, Order [6] at 2, and Plaintiff paid the filing fee in full on March 17, 2016. On March 18, 2016, the Clerk of Court sent Plaintiff a Memorandum [9] explaining that he is responsible for service of process upon Defendants pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4 and enclosing a copy of Rule 4. Mem. [9] at 1.

         On April 8, 2016, the Clerk of Court issued Summonses for Defendants Jimenez, Hardy, Woodall, Cooley, Clay, and Green. On April 21, 2016, the Summonses were returned executed as to those Defendants. See Proofs of Service [17] at 1-8; Proofs of Service [18] at 1-4.

         On May 26, 2016, Plaintiff moved [21] for a Default Judgment against Clay, Cooley, Green, Hardy, Jimenez, and Woodall. On October 17, 2016, the Court denied Plaintiff's Motion for Default Judgment [21] and set aside the Clerk's Entry of Default. Order [30] at 9. The Court directed Plaintiff to properly serve Clay, Cooley, Green, Hardy, Jimenez, and Woodall in the manner required by Rule 4 and to file the proper proofs of service with the Clerk of Court, all by November 18, 2016. Id. at 9-10. The Court warned Plaintiff that

should he fail to properly serve any of these Defendants and/or fail to file proper notice of said service by November 18, 2016, any unserved Defendant may be dismissed without prejudice without further notice to Plaintiff, unless Plaintiff is able to show good cause for such failure.

Id. at 10 (emphasis in original). The Court directed the Clerk of Court to mail a copy of its Order along with summons forms to Plaintiff at his last known address. Id.

         On November 17, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Extension of Time to Serve Process [33]. The Magistrate Judge granted Plaintiff's Motion [33] in part and denied it in part, see Nov. 18, 2016, Text Order, and ordered that “Plaintiff's deadline to serve all defendants in compliance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4 and file proof of such service is 12/9/2016. Plaintiff is reminded that it is his responsibility to prosecute the case, ” id.

         On December 12, 2016, Plaintiff filed what he characterized as “Proof of Service by certified mail for all Defendants . . . .” Proof of Service [36] at 1. Plaintiff attached United States Postal Service (“USPS”) production and tracking information from USPS.com indicating that four items had been mailed on November 15, 2016, via USPS certified mail, and were received in Leakesville, Mississippi, on November 16, 2016. Plaintiff also attached signed certified mail receipts, which indicate that articles addressed to “Kim Green, ” “Ronald Woodall, MD, ” “Dr. Jaime Jimenez, ” “Joseph Cooley, ” and “Kera D. Hardy” were delivered, though not all were signed for by the addressee. Proofs [36-2] at 1, 3, 5-6, 8. One addressed to “Latasha Clay” was returned to sender. Id. at 9.

         On December 19, 2016, Plaintiff sent a letter to the Clerk of Court attaching alias Summonses which had been issued to each Defendant. Letter [37] at 1. Plaintiff stated that

[t]he Court has the certified postal slips. I could not mail anything from WCCRF certified mail. Tekeshia Jones will be sending the Proof of Service forms because she mailed the summons ...

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