Plaintiff’s Motion to Voluntarily Dismiss Denied with Respect to Two Defendants

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The plaintiff filed for voluntary dismissal in order to re-file in the State of Pennsylvania. Various defendants had filed motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Two defendants, Evenheat Kiln and Sargent Art, objected to the plaintiff’s motion to dismiss without prejudice. The court denied the plaintiff’s motion to dismiss with respect to Evenheat and Sargent.

The case had progressed through the discovery phase, and the plaintiff was deposed over six days. Evenheat never contested jurisdiction in Rhode Island. After discovery, both Evenheat and Sargent filed motions for summary judgment for lack of product identification. Prior to hearing on these motions, and prior to filing any response, the plaintiff filed the motion to dismiss. Both defendants argued the motion to dismiss was improper due to: (1) the defendants’ effort and expense of preparing for trial; (2) excessive delay or lack of diligence by plaintiff; (3) insufficient explanation for the need to grant a dismissal, and (4) motions for summary judgment are pending. The plaintiff argued summary judgment was premature, further discovery was needed, and discovery will continue in Pennsylvania.

If adverse parties have answered, filed summary judgments, or objected to dismissals, the plaintiff can only dismiss by order of the court. Rhode Island rules regarding this issue were identical to federal rules. “In considering whether dismissal will result in prejudice to an adverse party, a court should consider the following factors: 1) the efforts and costs incurred by the defendants in preparation for trial; 2) excessive delay and want of diligence in the plaintiff’s litigation; 3) the legitimacy (or lack thereof) of the explanation for the need to take a dismissal; and 4) whether a summary judgment motion has been filed by the defendant.” All four factors were satisfied with respect to Evenheat and Sargent. Although the plaintiff had diligently advanced through litigation and legitimately requested dismissal in order to refile in the proper jurisdiction, a dismissal without prejudice would prejudice Evenheat and Sargent in light of their trial preparation and pending motions for summary judgment.

Read the full decision here.