United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO WITDRAW STIPULATED DISMISSAL [DKT. 108] AND DEFENDANTS STOUT AND OZKAYA'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES [DKT. 79]
SARAH EVANS BARKER, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Patrick Collins' Motion to Withdraw Stipulated Dismissal and Reinstate the Case Against Defendants Blain Stout and Emrah Ozkaya ("Motion to Withdraw Stipulated Dismissal") [Dkt. 108] and Defendants Stout and Ozkaya's Motion for Attorney's Fees [Dkt. 79]. The Court also issued an Order to Show Cause [Dkt. 105] as to why Plaintiff's Notice of Withdrawal of the Stipulated Dismissal ("Notice of Withdrawal")[Dkt. 74] should not be disregarded. The Court, being duly advised, rules as follows:
I. Procedural History
Plaintiff filed this action against Blain Stout and Emrah Ozkaya on August 15, 2012 alleging claims of copyright infringement. On May 14, 2013, Plaintiff filed a stipulation of dismissal with prejudice as to the claims against Stout and Ozkaya. [Dkt. 68.] The stipulation of dismissal was signed by Paul Nicoletti, counsel for Plaintiff, and Paul Overhauser, counsel for Stout and Ozkaya, but was silent as to the issue of attorney's fees. [ Id. ]
Two days later, on May 16, 2013, Plaintiff filed a notice withdrawing the stipulation of dismissal. [Dkt. 74.] The notice consisting of one paragraph simply stated:
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE, Plaintiff, Patrick Collins, Inc., hereby withdraws its Stipulation of Dismissal of Plaintiff's Claims Against Defendants Blain Stout and Emrah Ozkaya With Prejudice [CM/ECF 68] because it was filed in error.
[ Id. ]
Two weeks thereafter, on May 28, 2013, Stout and Ozkaya filed a Motion for Attorney's Fees [Dkt. 79], making no mention of the notice withdrawing the stipulation of dismissal. This Court then issued an Entry on Pending Matter and Order to Show Cause [Dkt. 105] on September 4, 2013 addressing the legal status of Stout and Ozkaya and requiring Plaintiff to show cause as to why its notice of withdrawal of the stipulation of dismissal should not be disregarded.
Plaintiff filed a response to the Order to Show Cause on September 20, 2013. [Dkt. 107.] That same day, Plaintiff also filed a Motion to Withdraw Stipulated Dismissal. [Dkt. 108.] The Court now rules on the pending matters.
II. Legal Standard
A plaintiff may voluntarily dismiss an action without a court order by filing: (i) a notice of dismissal before the opposing party serves either an answer or a motion for summary judgment; or (ii) a stipulation of dismissal signed by all parties who have appeared. Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(1)(A). The dismissal is without prejudice unless otherwise stated. Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(1)(B). A voluntary dismissal with prejudice serves as an adjudication on the merits and thus is a final judgment. Schmier v. McDonald's LLC, 569 F.3d 1240, 1242 (10th Cir. 2009); see Randall v. Merrill Lynch, 820 F.2d 1317, 1320 (D.C. Cir. 1987) (a second voluntary dismissal, which is a dismissal with prejudice, operates as an adjudication on the merits and is a final judgment); 8 James Wm. Moore et al., Moore's Federal Practice ¶ 41.34(c) (3d ed. 2013). A voluntary dismissal is self-executing; no further order from the court is needed. Edwards-Brown v. Crete Monee 201-U Sch. Dist., 491 Fed.Appx. 744, 745 (7th Cir. 2012); Meineke v. H & R Block of Hous., 66 F.3d 77, 82 (5th Cir. 1995); De Leon v. Marcos, 659 F.3d 1276, 1283 (10th Cir. 2011); Moore et al, supra, ¶ 41.34 (6)(a). Once a plaintiff files the voluntary dismissal, "the case is closed and the plaintiff may not unilaterally withdraw or amend the [dismissal]." Moore et al, supra, ¶ 41.33.
However, a party may move to vacate the dismissal under Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Schmier, 569 F.3d at 1243. A motion for relief from a final judgment must be made within a reasonable time and no more than a year after judgment was entered in certain circumstances. Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(c). Although the court has discretion in granting relief, relief from a final judgment is an extraordinary measure and may only be granted in the exceptional circumstances enumerated in Rule 60(b). Eskridge v. Cook County, 577 F.3d 806, 808-09 (7th Cir. 2009); Nelson, 657 F.3d at 589; Schmier, 569 F.3d at 1243.
A. Notice of ...