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Hasting v. FCA U.S. LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

July 23, 2018

LIAM HASTINGS; et al. PLAINTIFFS
v.
FCA U.S. LLC f/k/a/ CHRYSLER GROUP, LLC; et al. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          Susan O. Hickey United States District Judge

         Before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Dismissal Without Prejudice. (ECF No. 21). Separate Defendant Quadratec, Inc. (“Quadratec”) filed a response. (ECF No. 22). Plaintiffs filed a reply. (ECF No. 23). No other party has responded, and the time to do so has passed. See Local Rule 7.2(b). The Court finds the matter ripe for consideration.

         On May 10, 2018, Plaintiffs filed this products liability and negligence action against Separate Defendants Quadratec; FCA U.S. LLC; and Lonnie McMurray's Four-Wheel-Drive-Center, Inc. On June 1, 2018, Quadratec filed its answer to Plaintiffs' complaint and asserted crossclaims against Separate Defendants FCA U.S. LLC and Lonnie McMurray's Four-Wheel-Drive-Center, Inc. On July 6, 2018, Plaintiffs filed the instant motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2). Plaintiffs ask the Court to dismiss their claims against Defendants without prejudice.

         On July 10, 2018, Quadratec responded to the instant motion. Quadratec states that it denies that Plaintiffs' complaint states a claim or that Plaintiffs' complaint was timely filed. Quadratec also states that on June 19, 2018, it sent Plaintiffs a spoliation notice and requested that Plaintiffs preserve certain evidence, but Plaintiffs did not respond. Quadratec states further that it will only agree to dismissal of Plaintiffs' claims without prejudice if Plaintiffs are directed to preserve evidence as set forth in the June 19, 2018, spoliation notice. Quadratec also asks the Court to direct Plaintiffs to, prior to dismissal, provide Quadratec with all documentation related to their alleged purchase of the vehicle and suspension kit in question and all contacts and communications between Plaintiffs and the entity from which Plaintiffs purchased the suspension kit.[1] Quadratec finally requests that, if the Court dismisses Plaintiffs' claims without prejudice, that the Court also dismiss without prejudice Quadratec's crossclaims against the other Defendants.[2]

         The Court will first address whether to grant Plaintiffs' motion for dismissal of their claims without prejudice. If the Court answers that question in the affirmative, it will then determine whether to impose any of the conditions requested by Quadratec.

         I. Dismissal of Claims

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41 governs the dismissal of actions. An action may be dismissed by court order at the plaintiff's request, on terms the court considers proper. Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(2).

A decision whether to allow a party to voluntarily dismiss a case rests upon the sound discretion of the court. In exercising that discretion, a court should consider factors such as whether the party has presented a proper explanation for its desire to dismiss; whether a dismissal would result in a waste of judicial time and effort; and whether a dismissal will prejudice the defendants. Likewise, a party is not permitted to dismiss merely to escape an adverse decision nor to seek a more favorable forum.

Thatcher v. Hanover Ins. Grp., Inc., 659 F.3d 1212, 1213-14 (8th Cir. 2011).

         Upon consideration, the Court finds that the balance of these factors weighs in favor of granting Plaintiffs' motion for voluntary dismissal. Although Plaintiffs' motion does not set forth an explanation for their desire to dismiss, their reply brief states that minor children involved in this case are undergoing additional treatment and, accordingly, Plaintiffs and their counsel decided it would be best to seek dismissal so that the additional treatment could be completed before proceeding with litigation. The Court is satisfied with this explanation.

         There is no indication that Plaintiffs seek dismissal based on a desire to escape an adverse decision or to seek a more favorable forum, and Defendants have not argued as such. The Court has issued no rulings-adverse or otherwise-in this case which Plaintiffs could be said to seek dismissal to escape, and Plaintiffs initially filed the case in this Court. Presumably, if they choose to refile, they would do so in this Court, as well.

         Dismissal of this case would not result in a waste of judicial time or resources, as the case is in its early stages, with little, if any, discovery having taken place. As previously indicated, the only judicial resources expended on this case thus far have been issuing an Initial Scheduling Order and deciding the instant motion.

         Defendants do not argue that they would be prejudiced by dismissal. At most, Quadratec states that it appears that Plaintiffs intend to refile their lawsuit at a later date. Any harm to Defendants from a second action would be minimal. See Id. at 1214 (“Prejudice does not arise simply because a second action has been or may be filed against the defendant, which is often the whole point in dismissing a case without prejudice.”). Defendants have not been required to expend a significant amount of time or resources in defending this case, as they have only filed pleadings thus far. Thus, the Court finds that Defendants would not be unfairly prejudiced by dismissal.

         For the above-discussed reasons, the Court finds that dismissal without prejudice is appropriate. As a result, the Court finds that Plaintiffs' claims against Defendants, and Quadratec's crossclaims ...


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