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Hinfin Realty Corp. v. Pittston Co.

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Hinfin moved for a dismissal without prejudice despite Pittston Co.’s opposition that the dismissal would cause duplicative litigation, witnesses to die, and memories to fade.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A district court can permit a plaintiff to voluntarily dismiss a lawsuit without prejudice if the defendant will not be prejudiced.

    Facts.

    Hinfin Realty Corp. (Hinfin) sued Pittston Co. (Pittston) but took no action on the suit until they amended their complaint. When Pittston moved to stay the action, Hinfin refused, so Pittstin began to move forward with discovery. When Hinfin’s major witness died, Pittston offered Hinfin evidence that they were not the proper defendants. Pittston refused to stipulate a dismissal without prejudice when asked by Hinfin. Hinfin moved for a dismissal without prejudice despite Pittston Co.’s opposition that the dismissal would cause duplicative litigation, witnesses to die, and memories to fade.

    Issue.

    Whether a district court can permit a plaintiff to voluntarily dismiss a lawsuit without prejudice if the defendant will not be prejudiced?

    Held.

    Yes. The plaintiff’s request is granted. The plaintiff’s had good cause to request dismissal because little discovery has progressed and litigation had not gotten far, the defendants can reuse much of their materials for litigation, the plaintiff’s key witness died, they need to reformulate a relitigation plan and decide whether to spend the money to continue litigation.

    Discussion.

    To determine whether or not a defendant will be prejudiced, several factors must be considered: (1) Whether the plaintiff was diligent in requesting dismissal; (2) whether the plaintiff was “unduly vexatious,” (3) how far the litigation went and how much the defendant spent preparing; (4) the cost to duplicate litigation; (5) whether the plaintiff has good reason to seek dismissal.


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