United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
R. Herndon, Judge
matter is before the Court on defendant, Prairie State
Generating Company, LLC's
(“PSGC”) motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a) and 12(b)(6) or alternatively for a more definite
statement pursuant to Rule 12(e) (Doc. 6). The plaintiff,
proceeding pro se, has attempted to file a response
(Doc. 33). The plaintiff's pro se status is a
result of her prior attorney, William J. Meacham's
(“Meacham”) repeated misconduct, including
failure to appear at hearings and ignoring this Court's
cautionary instructions and orders. Meacham's egregious
and unprofessional behavior has placed his former client, and
this Court, in a precarious position. Despite receiving
various extensions, the plaintiff has been unable to locate
new counsel and is now proceeding pro se.
Unfortunately, the plaintiff's response to the motion to
dismiss is lacking in substance. Although the Court is
sympathetic to the plaintiff's position, this case cannot
continue on its current trajectory into perpetuity.
Accordingly, the Court will not grant any further extensions
and proceeds to rule on the subject motion.
action was removed on March 2, 2016 (Doc. 1). At the time of
removal, Meacham was the plaintiff's attorney of record.
Six days after removal, on March 8, 2016, PSGC filed the
subject motion to dismiss (Doc. 6). Accordingly, the motion
to dismiss has been pending for a little over seven months.
matter was set for a scheduling conference to occur on April
28, 2016 (Doc. 9). Meacham failed to appear (Doc. 11).
Additionally, the Court learned that Meacham's membership
in the Court's bar was inactive, Meacham had not entered
an appearance in this matter, and Meacham had not otherwise
taken any corrective action with regard to his inactive bar
membership (Doc. 11).
light of the above, Magistrate Judge Donald G. Wilkerson
ordered Meacham to show cause, in person, on May 6, 2016
(“May 2016 Show Cause Hearing”), why sanctions
should not issue for failing to appear at the scheduling
conference and for failing to take action to update his
membership in the Court's bar (Doc. 11).
Meacham failed to appear at the May 2016 Show Cause Hearing
and failed to take any corrective action regarding his bar
membership (Doc. 13). Judge Wilkerson was informed that the
Clerk of the Court attempted to contact Mr. Meacham; however,
his telephone had been disconnected (Doc. 13). PSGC's
counsel further informed the Court that Mr. Meacham had
spoken to him on at least two occasions and that he was aware
of the May 2016 Show Cause Hearing (Doc. 13). Three days
after his failure to appear, on May 9, 2016, Meacham placed a
phone call to the Clerk of the Court seeking guidance (Doc.
13). However, as of May 9, 2016, Meacham still had not
rectified the defects in his representation of the plaintiff
light of the above, on May 9, 2016, Judge Wilkerson issued an
order striking Meacham as an attorney of record in this
matter (Doc. 13). A copy of the order was mailed to Meacham
and the plaintiff at their last known addresses. Further,
Judge Wilkerson set the matter for an in person hearing on
May 20, 2016 (Doc. 13). The plaintiff was ordered to appear
in person at the hearing and was warned that failure to
appear could result in dismissal of this action, with
prejudice, for failure to prosecute (Doc. 13). Additionally,
plaintiff was directed to be prepared to discuss whether she
would be retaining new counsel or whether she would be
proceeding pro se (Doc. 13).
20, 2016, the plaintiff appeared in person along with
PSGC's counsel (Doc. 17, 24). Meacham, contacted the
Clerk of Court prior to the hearing and indicated that he was
on his way, but that he would be late because he was lost
(Mr. Meacham was arriving from Edwardsville, Illinois, a
location less than 30 miles distant from the Courthouse in
East St. Louis, Illinois) (Doc. 24). The Court informed the
parties at the hearing of Meacham's phone call and
suspended the proceedings until Meacham's arrival (Doc.
24). Meacham arrived at the hearing, late, and the hearing
restarted (Doc. 24). The plaintiff indicated she wanted
Meacham to represent her (Doc. 17, 24). Judge Wilkerson told
Mr. Meacham that he must enter an appearance, by close of
business on May 20, 2016, in order to represent Plaintiff in
these proceedings (Doc. 17, 24). The Court also informed Mr.
Meacham that a pending Motion to Dismiss had not been
responded to and that he should seek an extension of time to
file an untimely response (Doc. 24).
did not comply with the Court's directive (Doc. 24).
Instead, without entering an appearance as directed, Meacham
filed what purported to be a response to the motion to
dismiss (Doc. 16). On June 3, 2016, Judge Wilkerson struck
the response, finding it wholly deficient (Doc. 24). Further,
in light of Meacham's continued failure to comply with
court orders and to follow simple directions, Judge Wilkerson
informed the plaintiff that she must proceed pro se
(Doc. 24). Plaintiff was directed to file a response to the
motion to dismiss by July 5, 2016 and was warned that failure
to timely respond could result in dismissal of this matter
5, 2016, a document, that appeared to be an amended
complaint, was filed electronically using Meacham's
CM/ECF login and password (Doc. 26). The document failed to
comply with numerous federal rules of civil procedure and
with this Court's local rules (Doc. 27). Although filed
using Meacham's CM/ECF login and password, the document
was unsigned and stated as follows: “Respectfully
Submitted Terri Qualls Pro Se.” Observing that Meacham
was either (1) continuing to represent Plaintiff in this
matter, in contravention of this Court's May 9, 2016 and
June 3, 2016 Orders (Docs. 13 and 24) or (2) permitting Ms.
Qualls to file papers using his CM/ECF login and password in
contravention of the Electronic Case Filing Rules, Judge
Wilkerson issued another show cause order (Doc. 27). The show
cause order directed Meacham to appear in person on July 20,
2016 and show cause why he should not be held in contempt of
court (“July 2016 Show Cause Hearing”)(Doc. 27).
Mr. Meacham was directed to be prompt. Further, the plaintiff
was directed to mail to the Clerk of the Court, and to serve
upon PSGC, any papers she wished to file in this matter (Doc.
failed to appear at the July 2016 Show Cause Hearing.
Accordingly, Judge Wilkerson issued an order clearly setting
forth the plaintiff's pro se status and barring
Meacham from any further participation in this matter (Doc.
August 1, 2016, the plaintiff, proceeding pro se
filed a motion for extension of time to find a new attorney
(Doc. 30). Over the objections of PSGC, the Court granted an
extension. The Court allowed the plaintiff until September 6,
2016 to locate new counsel (Doc. 32). Further, the Court
allowed the plaintiff an extension, until September 16, 2016,
to file a response to the pending motion to dismiss (Doc.
32). The ...