United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Charles S. Haight, Jr., Senior United States District Judge
October of 2015, pro se plaintiff Ellsworth Evarts
commenced this wrongful termination action against Quinnipiac
University, his former employer, for violation of the
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42
U.S.C. §12101, et seq., and the Family Medical
Leave Act of 1993 ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. § 2601,
et seq. In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that the
university failed to afford him "reasonable
accommodation, " and in fact "refused [him the
opportunity] to return to work" following a surgery he
underwent. Doc. 1, at 3. He thus seeks
"backpay" and "monetary damages" in the
form of "lost wages and retirement benefits."
Id., at 5.
the filing of the Complaint, Plaintiff took no action in this
matter. He filed no proof of service on the Defendant and no
additional pleadings. On May 27, 2016, the Court entered an
Order, noting that "[m]ore than 90 days have elapsed
since the complaint was filed but [P]laintiff has not made
proof of service as required by Fed.R.Civ.P.
4(l)." Doc. 5. The Court thus ordered Plaintiff
to "show cause on or before June 9, 2016 as to why this
action should not be dismissed." Id.
7, 2016, Plaintiff filed a timely response to the Court's
Order by letter, requesting a continuance of the matter so
that he can secure the services of Attorney James Sabatini or
other counsel to help him pursue this action. Doc. 6, at 1.
Plaintiff explained that he was under the misimpression that
he had to await word from the Court to proceed in this
When I filed [the Complaint] I was told the court would
decide if the lawsuit would move forward through the court. I
was awaiting notice that my lawsuit would be heard and
instead received Notice of Electronic Filing. . . . The
reason no filing was made is I never got notice my case would
be heard. If I received a notice my case was going forward I
would have filed the notice of service to the defendants.
Id. Evarts also assured the Court that he has
obtained a "P.O. Box now so in the future [he] should
not have a problem receiving [his] mail." Id.
Requirements for Service
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, upon the filing of the
complaint, the plaintiff has the duty to serve the summons
and complaint upon the defendant. In particular, pursuant to
Rule 4(c)(1), Fed. R. Civ. P., "[t]he plaintiff is
responsible for having the summons and complaint served [upon
the defendant] within the time allowed by Rule 4(m), "
which was, at the relevant time in this action, 120 days
after the complaint was filed. See also Fed. R. Civ. P.
4(h) (describing service upon a corporation, partnership of
association). Absent proper service, the Court lacks personal
jurisdiction over the unserved defendant.
under Rule 4(m), Fed. R. Civ. P., if a defendant is not
served within the requisite period 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." However, "if the plaintiff shows good
cause for the failure, the court must extend the time for
service for an appropriate period." Id.
Pro Se Status - Grounds for Leniency
his pro se status, the Court is inclined to treat
Plaintiff Evarts with leniency and thereby provide him
additional time to correct his failure to effect service
and/or return proof of that service. Such judicial
forbearance conforms with the Second Circuit's general
approach of leniency toward pro se litigants. For
example, in evaluating facial plausibility of claims,
"[p]ro se complaints are to 'be
construed liberally and interpreted to raise the strongest
arguments that they suggest.'" Maki v. New
York, 597 F.App'x 36, 36 (2d Cir. 2015) (quoting
Triestman v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 470 F.3d 471,
474 (2d Cir.2006)). See also Frederick v. Wells Fargo
Home Mortg., No. 15-1457, 2016 WL 2893211, at *1 (2d
Cir. May 18, 2016) ("We will liberally construe
complaints filed pro se to state the strongest arguments that
is advised, however, that despite such leniency, all parties,
even those who are pro se, must abide by the
procedural rules of the Court, both Federal and Local.
Specifically, parties "are required to inform themselves
regarding procedural rules and to comply with them."
LoSacco v. City of Middletown, 71 F.3d 88, 92 (2d
Cir. 1995) (quoting Edwards v. INS, 59 F.3d 5, 8 (2d
Cir.1995). "This is especially true in civil
litigation." LoSacco , 71 F.3d at 92. See
also McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993)
("we have never suggested that ...