United States District Court, D. New Jersey
C. MILSTEIN SHERMAN, SILVERSTEIN, KOHL, ROSE & PODOLSKY
ON BEHALF OF PLAINTIFFS
E. MCTIERNAN LOCKE LORD LLP ON BEHALF OF DEFENDANT.
L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
opinion arises from Plaintiffs' Motion to Withdraw the
Complaint with Prejudice pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 41(a)(2). The Court notes this case is unusual for
two reasons: First, Plaintiffs are seeking a voluntary
dismissal with prejudice. Second, Defendant opposes
the motion. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiffs'
Motion to Withdraw the Complaint with Prejudice is granted.
following facts come from Plaintiffs' April 2016
complaint. Plaintiffs and Defendant are associated in several
entities providing mental health services in New Jersey.
Plaintiffs allege Defendant accessed Plaintiffs' Yahoo
e-mail accounts without consent to gain a business advantage
over Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs alleged violations of 18 U.S.C.
§ 2511 of the Electronic Communications Protection Act
and of 18 U.S.C. § 2701 of the Stored Communications
Act. Plaintiffs also brought claims for libel and
June 28, 2017 Scheduling Order, the parties were
“directed to engage in electronic discovery related to
the claims and defenses in the case.” On September 8,
2017, Plaintiffs moved to withdraw their complaint with
prejudice. The motion is opposed by Defendant, who argues the
motion is an attempt to avoid Defendant's discovery
request for Plaintiffs to produce a computer tower.
Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2) provides, in pertinent part:
“[A]n action may be dismissed at the plaintiff's
request only by court order, on terms that the court
considers proper.” “A motion for voluntary dismissal
under Rule 41(a)(2) lies within the sound discretion of the
district court.” Dodge-Regupol, Inc. v. RB Rubber
Prods., 585 F.Supp.2d 645, 652 (M.D. Pa. 2008).
“The purpose of the grant of discretion under Rule
41(a)(2) . . . is primarily to prevent voluntary dismissals
which unfairly affect the other side, and to permit the
imposition of curative conditions.” Id.
(alteration in original) (quoting Charles A. Wright &
Arthur R. Miller, 9 Fed. Prac. & Proc. Civ. 2d §
courts, including courts within the Third Circuit, have held
that a court lacks the discretion to deny a motion under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(2) when the plaintiff requests that the
dismissal be made with prejudice.” Sypniewski v.
Warren Hills Reg'l Bd. of Educ., No. 01-3061, 2006
WL 208562, at *3 (D.N.J. Jan. 26, 2006). Indeed, the denial
of such a motion could constitute an abuse of discretion by
the district court. John Evans Sons, Inc. v.
Majik-Ironers, Inc., 95 F.R.D. 186, 190-91 (E.D. Pa.
1982) (“A different situation may be presented where
the plaintiff moves to dismiss with prejudice. A trial court
may abuse its discretion in denying such a motion where
dismissal would terminate the entire action since courts
should not conduct useless trials.” (quoting 5
Moore's Federal Practice para. 41.05 at 41-74)).
Similarly, a judge of this Court, in Sypniewski,
found that “a motion for voluntary dismissal with
prejudice eliminates [a court's] discretion to deny such
a motion” and could “constitute an abuse of
discretion.” 2006 WL 208562, at *4; accord
Sheridan v. Fox, 531 F.Supp. 151, 155 (E.D. Pa. 1982)
(“If dismissal with prejudice would dispose entirely of
a case, it may always be an abuse of discretion to deny
“[w]here the plaintiff has consented to dismissal with
prejudice and the defendant will not face a second lawsuit on
plaintiff's claim, the Court should grant the motion for
dismissal so long as it is not unfair to the defendant to do
so.” Gilbreth Int'l Corp. v. Lionel Leisure,
Inc., 587 F.Supp. 605, 614 (E.D. Pa. 1983).
claim of prejudice is that Defendant will be unable to obtain
the discovery ordered. Defendant cites the following cases
for the proposition that “[a] plaintiff cannot use
voluntary dismissal to prevent adverse discovery
rulings”: Alliance for Global Justice v. District
of Columbia, No. 01-811, 2005 WL 469593 (D.D.C. Feb. 7,
2005); In re Vitamins Antitrust Litigation, 198
F.R.D. 296 (D.D.C. 2000); and In re Wellbutrin XL
Antitrust Litigation, 268 F.R.D. 539 (E.D. Pa. 2010).
Alliance for Global Justice, there was a discovery
dispute between the parties, in which the plaintiffs
“argued that the plaintiffs who had voluntarily
dismissed themselves from the case had no obligation to
provide further discovery responses.” 2005 WL 469593,
at *1. The court noted that the voluntary dismissal of
various plaintiffs did “not end the case, ” and
the defendants were “still in the process of defending
the federal court action that was filed against them.”
Id. at *3. The court determined that
“permitting plaintiffs to avoid their discovery
obligations would cause undue prejudice to the
defendants.” Id. The ...