United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Lynn Winmill Chief U.S. District Court Judge.
Court has before it Plaintiff's Motion to Voluntarily
Dismiss Sgt. Mechtel (Dkt. 93). For the reasons discussed
below, the Motion to Dismiss will be granted.
March 17, 2017 the Court granted Defendants' Cross Motion
for Summary Judgement, dismissing Carr's claims against
Sergeant Mechtel (along with several others) for failure to
exhaust administrative remedies against those defendants.
(Dkt. 85). Carr subsequently appealed to the Ninth Circuit
Court of Appeals. That court affirmed the dismissal of the
majority of Carr's claims, but remanded the claims
against Higgins and Mechtel for consideration of whether Carr
had properly exhausted his administrative remedies. (Dkt.
the same timeframe, Carr was pursuing another lawsuit,
Carr v. Higgins, No. 1:13-cv-00380-REB
(“Higgins”), in this District which
generally involved the same factual background as this case.
Carr attempted to amend his complaint in Higgins to
include the same First Amendment claim against Sergeant
Mechtel as was already asserted in this case.
(Higgins, Dkt. 19). That request was denied in the
same Order summarily dismissing all of Carr's existing
claims in the Higgins case. (Higgins, Dkt.
78). Carr subsequently appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of
Appeals. That court affirmed the summary dismissal of all but
one defendant and provided leave for Carr to amend his
complaint relating to Sergeant Mechtel. (Higgins,
Dkt. 92). Carr then filed an Amended Complaint in
Higgins to include the First Amendment claim against
Sergeant Mechtel. (Higgins, Dkt. 103). Carr now
seeks to voluntarily dismiss Sergeant Mechtel from the
present case in order to pursue the same First Amendment
claim against him in the Higgins case. (Dkt. 93).
Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2) “allows a plaintiff,
pursuant to an order of the court, and subject to any terms
and conditions the court deems proper, to dismiss an action
without prejudice at any time.” Westlands Water
Dist. v. United States, 100 F.3d 94, 96 (9th Cir. 1996).
A district court should grant a motion for voluntary
dismissal under Rule 41(a)(2) unless a defendant can show
that it will suffer some plain legal prejudice as a result.
Waller v. Fin. Corp. of Am., 828 F.2d 579, 583 (9th
Cir.1987). Legal prejudice is “prejudice to some legal
interest, some legal claim, [or] some legal argument.”
Westlands Water Dist., 100 F.3d at 97.
district court may consider whether the plaintiff is
requesting a voluntary dismissal only to avoid a near-certain
adverse ruling or if the moving party has been dilatory in
doing so. See Terrovona v. Kincheloe, 852 F.2d 424,
429 (9th Cir.1988); Westlands Water Dist. v. United
States, 100 F.3d 94, 97 (9th Cir. 1996). The
Terrovona court found that the district court's
refusal to use its discretion under F.R.C.P. 41(a)(2) was
reasonable because the magistrate judge had already issued
his report and recommendation when the plaintiff's motion
was filed. Terrovona, 852 F.2d at 429. Additionally,
the Ninth Circuit has stated that the district court properly
found legal prejudice when the dismissal of a party would
have rendered the remaining parties unable to conduct
sufficient discovery to untangle complex fraud claims and
adequately defend themselves against charges of fraud.
See Hyde & Drath v. Baker, 24 F.3d 1162, 1169
(9th Cir. 1994), as amended (July 25, 1994).
courts have examined whether a dismissal without prejudice
would result in the loss of a federal forum, or the right to
a jury trial, or subject a single plaintiff to inconsistent
rulings. See American Nat'l Bank & Trust
Co., 931 F.2d at 1412; Manshack v. Southwestern
Elec. Power Co., 915 F.2d 172, 174 (5th Cir.1990);
Templeton v. Nedlloyd Lines, 901 F.2d 1273, 1276
(5th Cir.1990); BP W. Coast Prod. LLC v. SKR Inc.,
989 F.Supp.2d 1109, 1116 (W.D. Wash. 2013).
contrast, the Ninth Circuit has explicitly stated that the
expense incurred in defending against a lawsuit does not
amount to legal prejudice. Westlands Water Dist.,
100 F.3d at 97. Though not mandatory, the defendants'
interests can be protected by conditioning the dismissal
without prejudice upon the payment of appropriate costs and
attorney fees, but only those for work which cannot be used
in future litigation of the claims. Id. Prejudice
also does not occur merely because the defendant may be
inconvenienced by having to defend in another forum or where
a plaintiff would gain a tactical advantage by that
dismissal. Smith v. Lenches, 263 F.3d 972, 976 (9th
Defendants argue that they will suffer plain legal prejudice
because the matter has been extensively litigated in this
action. Defendants also contend that Carr was dilatory in
filing his motion under F.R.C.P 41(a)(2) and that the rulings
of the Appellate Court in both actions would be complied with
by keeping Mechtel a party in this case.
the present case has been ongoing since March 31, 2014, only
three Orders pertain to Mechtel. The first allowed Carr's
First Amendment claim to move forward, the second summarily
dismissed that claim, and the third reversed the summary
dismissal to further address whether administrative remedies
were exhausted. Carr's Amended Complaint lodged in the
Higgins case has confined the claim against Mechtel
to the same First Amendment claim as was asserted against him
in the present case. Thus, the procedural posture will remain
the same in either action. Carr will be required to satisfy
the court that he has exhausted all administrative remedies
against Mechtel before proceeding further into the merits of
his First Amendment claim. Whether Carr pursues his claim
against Mechtel in the present action or chooses to do so in
Higgins, Mechtel's burden will not change, nor
will he be prejudiced.
may have been dilatory in requesting to dismiss Mechtel, but
the Court does not find any prejudice stemming from that
delay. Defendants will be required to address the same facts
in either case. Similarly, although retaining Mechtel in the
present action would honor the Ninth Circuit's rulings in
both cases, so ...