Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “an action may be dismissed at the plaintiff’s request only by court order, on terms that the court considers proper.”  Unless the order states otherwise, a dismissal under Rule 41(a)(2) is without prejudice. A district court’s decisions with respect to a motion for voluntary dismissal under Rule 41(a)(2) are reviewed for abuse of discretion. It is an abuse of discretion for the district court to rely on erroneous findings of fact, apply the wrong legal standard, misapply the correct legal standard, or make a clear error in judgment.
The purpose of Rule 41(a)(2) is to protect the nonmovant from unfair treatment. “Generally, an abuse of discretion is found only where the defendant would suffer ‘plain legal prejudice’ as a result of a dismissal without prejudice, as opposed to facing the mere prospect of a second lawsuit.” In determining whether such prejudice would result, courts typically consider “the defendant’s effort and expense of preparation for trial, excessive delay and lack of diligence on the part of the plaintiff in prosecuting the action, insufficient explanation for the need to take a dismissal, and whether a motion for summary judgment has been filed by the defendant.” A Rule 41(a)(2) dismissal may be conditioned on whatever terms the district court deems necessary to offset the prejudice the defendant may suffer from a dismissal without prejudice.
While such conditions often involve the payment of costs incurred by a defendant, payment of defense costs is not universally required for voluntary dismissal under Rule 41(a)(2). Although courts frequently impose defense costs on plaintiffs granted a voluntary dismissal, no circuit court has held that such costs are mandatory.”
- ↑ Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(2) (2007).
- ↑ Id.
- ↑ DWG Corp. v. Granada Invests., Inc., 962 F.2d 1201, 1202 (6th Cir. 1992); Grover by Grover v. Eli Lilly & Co., 33 F.3d 716, 718 (6th Cir. 1994); see also Duffy v. Ford Motor Co., 218 F.3d 623, 629 (6th Cir. 2000) (stating that conditions placed on a Rule 41(a)(2) dismissal are reviewed for abuse of discretion).
- ↑ Nafziger v. McDermott Int’l, Inc., 467 F.3d 514, 522 (6th Cir. 2006).
- ↑ Grover, 33 F.3d at 718.
- ↑ Id. (citation omitted).
- ↑ Id.; see also Doe v. Urohealth Sys., Inc., 216 F.3d 157, 160 (1st Cir. 2000).
- ↑ LeBlang Motors, Ltd. v. Suburu of America, Inc., 148 F.3d 680, 685 (7th Cir. 1998); McCants v. Ford Motor Co., 781 F.2d 855, 856 (11th Cir. 1986).
- ↑ DWG Corp. v. Granada Invs., Inc., 962 F.2d 1201, 1202 (6th Cir. 1992) (citing Stevedoring Servs. of America v. Armilla Int'l, 889 F.2d 919, 921 (9th Cir. 1989)).