United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
MORALES HOWARD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
CAUSE is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion
for Voluntary Dismissal and Incorporated Memorandum of Law
(Doc. 23; Motion) filed on September 5, 2017. In the Motion,
Plaintiff Alan Engle (“Engle”) seeks dismissal of
this matter without prejudice. See Motion at 1.
Defendant Celadon Group, Inc. (“Celadon”) filed a
response in opposition to the Motion on September 28, 2017.
See Defendant's Memorandum of Law in Response
and Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Voluntary
Dismissal (Doc. 23) (Doc. 26; Response). In the Response,
Celadon argues that the Motion should be denied, but if
granted, 1) the dismissal should be with prejudice as to
Celadon, Celadon Trucking Services, Inc., Ms. Haar and Mr.
Bullins; 2) Engle should be required to execute a release; 3)
Celadon should be awarded costs; and 4) the case, if refiled,
must be filed in the United States District Court, Middle
District of Florida, Jacksonville Division. See
Response at 14.
24, 2016, Engle filed a personal injury lawsuit in state
court against Celadon seeking damages as a result of injuries
he sustained in an accident in Jacksonville, Florida.
See Complaint (Doc. 2; Complaint). Celadon removed
the case to this Court on November 16, 2016, see
Notice of Removal (Doc. 1), and filed its Answer and Defenses
(Doc. 3) on that same date. Engle requested that the case be
remanded to state court, see Plaintiff's Motion
to Remand (Doc. 5), but the Court denied that request at a
hearing held on January 18, 2017, see Clerk's
Minutes (Doc. 12). Shortly thereafter, the Court entered a
scheduling order setting forth the deadlines in this matter.
See Case Management and Scheduling Order and
Referral to Mediation (Doc. 14; CMSO). On May 17, 2017, Engle
filed an unopposed motion to extend the deadlines set forth
in the CMSO citing a need for additional time to conduct the
Rule 30(b)(6) depositions of UPS representatives necessary to
determine whether he should amend the Complaint. See
Plaintiff's Unopposed Motion to Amend Case Management and
Scheduling Order and Referral to Mediation (Doc. 20). The
Court granted that motion and entered an amended scheduling
order on May 18, 2017. See Amended Case Management
and Scheduling Order (Doc. 22; Amended CMSO).
the filing of an answer or a summary judgment motion, Rule
41(a)(2), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Rule(s)), governs
a plaintiff's ability to voluntarily dismiss an action
without prejudice. See Rule 41(a)(1)-(2); see
also Pontenberg v. Boston Scientific Corp., 252 F.3d
1253, 1255 (11th Cir. 2001). Specifically, Rule 41(a)(2)
permits a plaintiff to voluntarily dismiss an action without
prejudice only “by court order, on terms that the court
considers proper.” Rule 41(a)(2). This dismissal is
without prejudice unless otherwise specified in the order of
dismissal. See id.; see also Pontenberg,
252 F.3d at 1255. A district court has broad discretion when
considering a Rule 41(a)(2) motion for voluntary dismissal.
See Pontenberg, 252 F.3d at 1255; see also In re
Bayshore Ford Trucks Sales, Inc., 471 F.3d 1233, 1259
(11th Cir. 2006) (“The decision to grant or deny a Rule
41(a)(2) motion to dismiss an action without prejudice is
entrusted to the sound discretion of the district
most cases, a voluntary dismissal should be granted unless
the defendant will suffer clear legal prejudice, other
than the mere prospect of a subsequent lawsuit, as a
result.'” Pontenberg, 252 F.3d at 1255
(quoting McCants v. Ford Motor Co., Inc., 781 F.2d
855, 856-57 (11th Cir. 1986))(emphasis in original).
“'The crucial question to be determined is, [w]ould
the defendant lose any substantial right by the
dismissal.'” Id. (quoting Durham v.
Fla. E. Coast, Ry. Co., 385 F.2d 366, 368 (5th Cir.
1967)). However, the fact that a plaintiff may
gain an advantage in future litigation will not act as a bar
to a Rule 41(a)(2) voluntary dismissal. See McCants,
781 F.2d at 857; Der v. E.I. Dupont de Nemours &
Co., 142 F.R.D. 344, 346 (M.D. Fla. 1992).
“Rather, the district court must exercise its broad
equitable discretion under Rule 41(a)(2) to weigh the
relevant equities and do justice between the parties in each
case, imposing such costs and attaching such conditions to
the dismissal as are deemed appropriate.”
McCants, 781 F.2d at 857; see also
Pontenberg, 252 F.3d at 1256. Indeed, “Rule
41(a)(2) exists chiefly for protection of defendants."
Sobe News, Inc. v. Ocean Drive Fashions,
Inc., 199 F.R.D. 377, 378 (S.D. Fla. 2001); see also
McCants, 781 F.2d at 856 ("The purpose of the rule
is primarily to prevent voluntary dismissals which unfairly
affect the other side, and to permit the imposition of
curative conditions." (internal quotation marks
Rule 41(a)(2) allows a plaintiff to dismiss an action
voluntarily once he receives approval of the district court,
“[t]he rule also permits the court to attach certain
conditions to its order . . . .” Iraola & CIA,
S.A. v. Kimberly-Clark Corp., 232 F.3d 854, 861 (11th
Cir. 2000). “[T]he ‘authority to attach
conditions to the order of dismissal “prevents
defendants from being unfairly affected”
thereby.'” Ortega Trujillo v. Banco Central Del
Ecuador, 379 F.3d 1298, 1301 (11th Cir. 2004)(citations
omitted). Such conditions may include requiring the plaintiff
to pay defendant a certain sum of money in costs, expenses
and reasonable attorney's fees, creating an enforceable
judgment on which a defendant can execute, see Ortega
Trujillo, 379 F.3d at 1300; Yoffe v. Keller Inds.,
Inc., 582 F.2d 982, 983 (5th Cir. 1978), or conditioning
the dismissal on the payment of costs to the defendant should
the plaintiff later re-file. Pontenberg, 252 F.3d at
1260; see also Roberts Enters., Inc. v. Olympia Sales,
Inc. 186 F. App'x 871 (11th Cir. 2006); Versa
Products, Inc. v. Home Depot, USA, Inc., 387 F.3d 1325,
1328 (11th Cir. 2004); McCants, 781 F.2d at
the procedural posture of this case, the Court declines to
impose any conditions or costs upon Engle. This case remains
in its early stages. Celadon has not expended considerable
effort or resources, financial or otherwise, in defending
this case. While the parties did engage in some discovery,
the depositions that were scheduled to take place in North
Carolina were cancelled before any party could incur
significant expenses. Notably, no dispositive motions have
been filed. The Court determines that Celadon will not be
“unfairly affected” by dismissal of this case
without prejudice such that the imposition of conditions is
light of the foregoing, it is hereby
Plaintiffs Motion for Voluntary Dismissal and Incorporated
Memorandum of Law (Doc. 23) is GRANTED.
case is DISMISSED ...