United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
B. Leighton United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff Ira Hartford's
“Motion for Head Court Clerk to Order Ronald Leighton
to Send this Case to Proceed to Grand Jury” [Dkt. #
49], and on the Court's own Motion.
filed this case against the City of Elma in December 2015.
Three applications to proceed in forma pauperis were
denied [Dkt #s 6, 8, and 10]. Hartford finally paid the
filing fee and filed his complaint [Dkt. #9] in April 2016.
He sued Elma for a variety of perceived transgressions
related to a business he operated there. Elma Answered on
July 29, 2016 [Dkt. #15].
time, Hartford filed a series of documents that could be
construed as additional (proposed) amended complaints [Dkt.
#s 14, 16, 19, 21 and 22], but he never sought or obtained
leave of court to file them. Each of those later complaints
sought to sue attorneys and law firms that apparently had
represented Hartford at some point (though never in this
case). An attorney appeared for a law firm named in the
subsequent complaints, but has not otherwise plead or
litigated [Dkt. # 17].
2016, Elma moved for dismissal for failure to state a claim
[Dkt. # 24]. That Motion was granted, and all of
Hartford's claims against Elma were dismissed with
prejudice [Dkt. #30]. Hartford filed a series of additional
documents and Motions for Reconsideration, all of which were
denied [Dkt. #36]. Hartford then filed a Motion to compel a
status conference and a Motion for “parties and claims
to be joined.” [Dkt. #s 35 and 37]. Those were denied
[Dkt. #42]. Hartford has since filed a variety of letters,
notices, and other accusations and demands, sometimes calling
them motions. Most are similar to the one before the Court
[Dkt. #s 43, 44, 46, 48, 50, 52, 53]. All have been denied.
Hartford has not filed, though, is any evidence that he ever
sought to serve a complaint naming the non-Elma, attorney
defendants. Elma treated the Hartford's third
complaint [Dkt. #9] as the operative complaint, and that
complaint was dismissed with prejudice. Even if the fourth
iteration of Hartford's complaint (the first that named
other defendants) [Dkt. #14], is considered the operative one
(despite the fact he had not sought or obtained leave to file
it), Hartford has not made any attempt to serve that
complaint in almost 14 months.
Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 4(m) provides:
(m) Time Limit for Service. If a defendant
is not served within 90 days after the complaint is filed,
the court-on motion or on its own after notice to the
plaintiff-must dismiss the action without prejudice against
that defendant or order that service be made within a
specified time. But if the plaintiff shows good cause for the
failure, the court must extend the time for service for an
Advisory Committee Notes to this Rule reiterate that the 90
day requirement is to be applied flexibly, and should not be
applied where doing so would cause prejudice:
[Rule 4(m)] explicitly provides that the court shall allow
additional time if there is good cause for the
plaintiff's failure to effect service in the prescribed
 days, and authorizes the court to relieve a plaintiff of
the consequences of an application of this subdivision even
if there is no good cause shown. (Time period reflects new
See also, for example, In re Sheehan, 253
F.3d 507, 512 (9th Cir. 2001)(Upon a showing of
good cause, the Court must extend the period; and even absent
a showing of good cause, the court has discretion to extend
has not shown good cause for failing to serve the defendants
in the time prescribed by the Rules. There is no indication
that he has made any attempt to do so; indeed, he has never
sought a summons for the attorney defendants (as he did when
he first applied for in forma pauperis status [Dkt.
#1], and again when he paid the filing fee in June, 2016).
There is certainly no evidence the defendants avoided
service, or that Hartford was otherwise precluded or delayed
from serving his complaint.
record, the Court does not find that there is “good
cause” shown for extending the long-expired period for
service. Nor will the Court in its discretion enlarge the
period from 90 days to something over 420 days. None of the
numerous iterations of Hartford's complaint against the
City or the attorneys was ever plausible, and the prejudice
to the defendants in permitting the resurrection of claims
they had no way of knowing had been asserted is at least as
harmful as any prejudice to Hartford in enforcing this Rule.
this matter is DISMISSED without prejudice, on the
Court's own motion. Hartford's misguided attempt to
have the Clerk order the Judge to transfer ...