United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
E. ASPEN, DISTRICT JUDGE.
pending are Plaintiff Dexter Taylor's pro se
motions to vacate the dismissal of this matter pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) (Mot. to Vacate (Dkt.
No. 33)) and motion for disqualification of the presiding
Judge (Mot. to Disqualify (Dkt. No. 36)). In support of his
motions, Taylor has filed a number of letters and affidavits.
(Dkt. Nos. 30, 34, 37.) On April 20, 2018, this Section 1983
and malicious prosecution action was dismissed for want of
prosecution. (Dkt. Nos. 10-11.) For the following reasons,
Taylor's motion to vacate the dismissal of this matter is
hereby granted (Dkt. No. 33) and Taylor's motion for
disqualification is denied (Dkt. No. 36). A number of
Taylor's motions, some of which are unsigned, are also
stricken as redundant and moot. (Dkt. Nos. 12, 15, 17, 21,
24, 27, 40, 42.) On or before July 11, 2018, Taylor must
either pay the $400.00 civil case filing fee or refile an
in forma pauperis (“IFP”) application
with a fully completed financial affidavit curing the defects
identified in the Court's February 22, 2018 Order (Dkt.
No. 6) or this case will again be dismissed for want of
prosecution. This is a final deadline.
January 21, 2018, Taylor filed a complaint against Chicago
Police Officers Michael Shepard and Malcolm Domio, Former
Superintendent of Chicago Police Garry McCarthy, and the City
of Chicago. (Compl. (Dkt. No. 1).) Taylor's complaint
details a traffic stop initiated by Chicago Police on June
17, 2012 shortly after Taylor drove through the intersection
of 111th Street and Racine Avenue in Chicago. (Id.
¶ 8.) Taylor alleges that he reached a “total and
complete stop” at the stop sign before entering the
intersection, but that the officers issued him a traffic
citation for running a stop sign, and “charged him with
running through the stop sign by stopping at the white line
just past the sign.” (Id.) Taylor's
complaint includes claims pursuant to 24 U.S.C. § 1983,
a claim of malicious prosecution, and claims of McCarthy and
the City of Chicago's respondeat superior liability.
(Id. ¶¶ 22-52.)
February 22, 2018, Taylor's petition to proceed IFP was
denied because the handwriting on his application was
illegible, which prevented Taylor's total income from
being ascertained, as is required to analyze his ability to
pay required court fees. (Dkt. No. 6.) The Order directed
Taylor to pay the $400.00 civil case filing fee or refile a
corrected IFP application on or before March 31, 2018.
(Id. at 2.) On April 20, 2018, after Taylor had
neither refiled a corrected motion for leave to proceed IFP
nor paid the mandated filing fee, his case was dismissed for
want of prosecution and judgment was entered. (Dkt. Nos.
pending are Taylor's motions to vacate the dismissal
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) and to
disqualify the presiding Judge. Taylor first filed his
motions to vacate dismissal and disqualify on May 18, 2018.
(Dkt. Nos. 12, 15.) Identical motions were repeatedly filed.
(Dkt. Nos. 17, 21, 24, 27.) On May 29, 2018, Taylor was
ordered to refile the motions with the required signature and
personal information as required by Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 11(a) as none were signed. (Dkt. No. 31.) Taylor
timely refiled signed motions on June 1, 2018. (Dkt. Nos. 33,
36.) Taylor has again filed identical copies of his signed
motions. (Dkt. Nos. 40, 42.)
Taylor's complaint was filed by counsel, Taylor filed the
pending motions pro se after his former counsel
withdrew on April 20, 2018. (Dkt. Nos. 8, 9.) As Taylor is
proceeding as a pro se litigant, his pleadings will
be “liberally construe[d].” Parker v. Four
Seasons Hotels, Ltd., 845 F.3d 807, 811 (7th Cir. 2017).
RULE 60(B) MOTION TO VACATE DISMISSAL
seeks to vacate the final judgment in this matter. In
addition to a number of outrageous and unfounded allegations
that will not be addressed, Taylor states he failed to meet
the ordered deadline because his former attorney terminated
his representation without sufficient notice to allow Taylor
to hire new representation, request an extension of time for
filing his IFP application, or timely file the IFP
application pro se before the deadline. (Mot. to
Vacate at 2.)
60(b) allows a court to “relieve a party . . . from a
final judgment” in a number of instances, including
“mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable
neglect.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(1). In considering whether
excusable neglect exists, all relevant circumstances are
considered, including the length of the delay; the
delay's impact on judicial proceedings; the reason for
the delay, including whether it was within the reasonable
control of the movant; danger of prejudice to the non-movant;
and the interests of efficient judicial administration.
United States v. Brown, 133 F.3d 993, 996 (7th Cir.
1998). The decision whether to grant relief under Rule 60(b)
is a matter of discretion for the district court judge.
Helm v. Resolution Tr. Corp., 84 F.3d 874, 877 (7th
instance, excusable neglect justifies Taylor's failure to
refile his IFP application or pay the filing fee by the
deadline. First, Taylor's counsel's filed his motion
to withdraw on March 31, 2018, the same day Taylor was
ordered to either refile his IFP application or pay his
filing fee. (Dkt. No. 8.) Taylor represents he was unaware
that his attorney did not refile his IFP application. (Mot.
to Vacate at 1.) Other than the deadline in the initial order
denying his motion for leave to file IFP (Dkt. No. 8), Taylor
was not given any prior warning that his case risked
dismissal for want of prosecution after the withdrawal of his
attorney. Cf. Vega v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.,
No. 14 C 7124, 2015 WL 7776877, at *3 (N.D. Ill.Dec. 3, 2015)
(denying Rule 60(b) motion to vacate dismissal after
plaintiff repeatedly failed to respond to discovery requests
or appear in court); Jackson v. City of Chi., No. 07
C 7066, 2011 WL 737584, at *1-2 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 23, 2011)
(denying Rule 60(b) motion after plaintiff repeatedly failed
to comply with court orders). Accordingly, it appears Taylor
missed the deadline due to reasons largely outside of his
control, and was given virtually no notice to find a new
attorney or request an extension before March 31, 2018.
Second, Taylor filed his motion to reopen less than thirty
days after judgment was entered in the case, a reasonably
short time. Cf. Ried v. Swift Gift, Ltd., No. 04 C
6605, 2006 WL 398171, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 14, 2006)
(finding a four month delay between dismissal of a case for
want of prosecution and filing Rule 60 motion
“unreasonable”). Third, a delay of twenty-eight
days at such an early stage of the proceedings poses little
risk of prejudice to Defendants. Id. at *3.
Considering the circumstances, Taylor's failure to act by
the ordered deadline constitutes excusable neglect, and his
case is reopened pursuant to Rule 60(b)(1).
MOTION FOR DISQUALIFICATION
also seeks to disqualify this Court from presiding over his
case for cause. Again, Taylor levels a number of
unsubstantiated and inflammatory accusations against the
Court in his motion. Taylor's only arguably non-frivolous
argument is that the Judge assigned to this case is
disqualified based on former employment with the Corporation
Counsel for the City of ...