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Lee v. Townsend Farms, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Idaho

December 15, 2014

LESLIE LEE, Plaintiff,
v.
TOWNSEND FARMS, INC., PURELY POMEGRANATE, INC., FALLON TRADING CO., INC. and UNITED JUICE CORP., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

B. LYNN WINMILL, Chief District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is Defendant Purely Pomegranate, Inc.'s Motion for Attorney Fees. Dkt. 85. For the reasons stated below, the Court will deny the motion.

BACKGROUND

This action was one of nine national class actions brought against Townsend Farms, Inc. alleging that the company was negligent in importing, manufacturing, distributing, and selling a food product that was contaminated with the hepatitis A Virus. See Complt., Dkt. 1-3. Defendant Purely Pomegranate, Inc. was added in the First Amended Complaint for allegedly providing Townsend with pomegranate seeds present in the contaminated product. See First Am. Complt. ¶ 1.3. Dkt. 1-4. Counsel for Plaintiff Leslie Lee brought all nine actions, but Lee was only named in the action before this Court. See Pl. Response at 4, Dkt. 87.

Earlier in this litigation, named plaintiffs in all nine actions and three defendants, including Purely Pomegranate, moved to transfer all actions to the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MLD) for pretrial proceedings. See Joint Motion for Transfer and Coordination or Consolidation, Dkt. 61. The MLD panel denied consolidation, and Purely Pomegranate filed a motion to dismiss this action for lack of personal jurisdiction. Dkt. 77.

In response, Lee moved to voluntarily dismiss this action (Dkt. 78), which was granted by the Court. July 21, 2014 Order, Dkt. 82. Since this action was dismissed, plaintiff's counsel has filed a third amended complaint in the class action pending in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, adding Lee as a named plaintiff in that action. See Peterson v. Townsend, et al., Case No. SA CV-13-01292-DOC (JCGx); Pl. Response at 3, Dkt. 87.

When granting Plaintiff's motion to voluntarily dismiss, the Court provided that Defendants may file a motion for costs and fees. July 21, 2014 Order, Dkt. 82. Defendant Purely Pomegranate filed the instant motion seeking attorney fees and costs under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(d). Dkt. 85.

ANALYSIS

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(d) provides that:

If a plaintiff who previously dismissed an action in any court files an action based on or including the same claim against the same defendant, the court:
(1) may order the plaintiff to pay all or part of the costs of that previous action; and
(2) may stay the proceedings until the plaintiff has complied.
The decision whether to impose costs is within the discretion of the trial court. Wright & Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2375 (3d ed. 2008). The purpose of the rule is to prevent the maintenance of vexatious law suits and to secure, where such suits are shown to have been brought repetitively, payment of costs for prior instances of such ...

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