Where a case is settled, but the plaintiff backs out, the district court may dismiss the lawsuit as a sanction.
“We do not render this decision lightly. The settlement agreement that was vacated provided for what on all accounts appeared to be a significant recovery for Lewis; the defendants had even admitted liability on the FMLA claim. However, Lewis’ dogged pursuit of more than she agreed to take under the settlement has left her with nothing in the wake of the district court’s dismissal. Though we think it unfortunate that Lewis’ actions have caused her to lose a substantial settlement, we can find no abuse of discretion on Judge Stiehl’s part. While the power to sanction via dismissal is one which should be exercised with great care, it is ‘essential’ to a court’s ability to efficiently manage its caseload. Roland v. Salem Contract Carriers, Inc., 811 F.2d 1175, 1177- 78 (7th Cir. 1987). At the time Lewis’ case was dismissed, eight months had passed since the court first directed her to sign settlement documents. She had also been warned that dismissal could result from her continued refusal to comply. When a district court judge is unable to dispose of a matter because a recalcitrant plaintiff systematically refuses to obey the court’s orders, dismissal is justified. Such was the case here and for that reason, we affirm.”
10-1453 Lewis v. School District #70
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, Stiehl, J., Bauer, J.