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Griffith v. General Mills Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 6, 2015

JONAH W. GRIFFITH, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
GENERAL MILLS INC., et al., Defendants.

Jonah W. Griffith, Jr., Bridgeton, New Jersey, Plaintiff Pro Se.

Holly Elizabeth Rich, Esq., Kristine Grady Derewicz, Esq., Littler Mendelson PC, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Counsel for Defendant General Mills Operations, LLC.

OPINION

NOEL L. HILLMAN, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court by way of motion [Doc. No. 17] of Defendant General Mills Operations, LLC, named in the complaint as General Mills Inc., seeking to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint for failure to prosecute pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) and Local Civil Rule 41.1(a). Plaintiff Pro Se, Jonah W. Griffith, Jr., has not filed any response to the motion. The Court has considered Defendant's submission and the record as a whole and decides this matter pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion will be granted.

I. JURISDICTION

Plaintiff's complaint purports to assert a claim for retaliation in violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq., and the Court therefore has original jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

II. BACKGROUND

On September 23, 2013, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cumberland County alleging that Defendant wrongfully terminated Plaintiff's employment because of Plaintiff's disability and leave apparently taken pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act. Defendant removed the matter to this Court on October 24, 2013 and filed an answer on October 31, 2013.

On November 1, 2013, Karen M. Williams, United States Magistrate Judge, entered an Order for Scheduling Conference which required the parties to appear in court on January 16, 2014. (Order [Doc. No. 5], Nov. 1, 2013.) Plaintiff failed to appear for the conference as required by the Order. As a result, Magistrate Judge Williams entered an Order requiring Plaintiff to file a letter with the Court by no later than January 27, 2014 explaining the reasons for his failure to attend the January 16, 2014 conference. (Order [Doc. No. 7], Jan. 16, 2014.) The Order warned Plaintiff that his failure to respond "may result in the imposition of sanctions which could include dismissal of your case." (Id.)

Plaintiff did not file a response as required by January 27, 2014. He did, however, file a letter dated January 30, 2014, which was received by the Court on February 3, 2014, in which he stated the reasons for his failure to attend the hearing on January 16, 2014. (Letter from Pl. [Doc. No. 9], Feb. 3, 2014.) The reasons proffered by Plaintiff included that he had been evicted from his home on January 9, 2014; that he had fallen on ice and injured his ribs on January 10, 2014 and was transported to the emergency room; that he has a long term chronic condition that requires medication; that it is difficult to find legal help with his case; and that he has a P.O. Box that he cannot check every day. (Id.) Plaintiff requested additional time for the case and provided the Court with two new mailing addresses. (Id.)

In response to Plaintiff's letter, Magistrate Judge Williams sent Plaintiff a letter in which she expressed "recognition and understanding of the difficult circumstances" that Plaintiff was facing. (Letter [Doc. No. 10], Feb. 6, 2014.) Magistrate Judge Williams granted Plaintiff's request for "more time" and directed Plaintiff to submit another letter setting forth dates during the months of March and/or April on which Plaintiff would be available to attend a scheduling conference. (Id.) The letter was sent to Plaintiff via certified mail, and a Return Receipt card [Doc. No. 11] signed by Plaintiff was returned to the Court. Plaintiff never filed a letter as requested by Magistrate Judge Williams. (Letter [Doc. No. 14], July 29, 2014.)

On July 14, 2014, counsel for Defendant wrote to Magistrate Judge Williams requesting a conference call to discuss the Court's February 6, 2014 letter to Plaintiff and the status of the case. (Letter from Holly Rich, Esq. [Doc. No. 12], July 14, 2014.) The Court entered a text order scheduling a telephone status conference for July 29, 2014. (Text Order [Doc. No. 13], July 16, 2014.) Defense counsel was unable to reach Plaintiff by telephone for the conference. (Letter [Doc. No. 14], July 29, 2014.) As a result, Magistrate Judge Williams wrote another letter to Plaintiff in which he was ordered to file a letter with the Court "on or before August 26, 2014 setting forth the reasons for [his] failure to participate in the July 29, 2014 telephone conference." (Id.) Plaintiff was again warned that his failure to respond "may result in the imposition of sanctions which could include dismissal of [his] case." (Id.) The letter was sent to Plaintiff at two separate addresses that had been supplied by Plaintiff to the Court. One letter was signed for by "Dave Gardiner, " and the other letter was returned to the Court as unclaimed.

Plaintiff never responded to the Order contained in the July 29, 2014 letter and has not filed any submissions with the Court since his January 30, 2014 letter. Defendant now moves to ...


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