United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff and Defendant United
States' Stipulation of Dismissal without Prejudice [ECF
No. 24]. On July 31, 2019, Plaintiff filed his
Complaint [ECF No. 2] in Lake County, Indiana, Circuit Court,
raising claims against Iqbal Singh, United States Postal
Service, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance, and Liberty
Mutual Commercial Market. Defendant United States Postal
Service filed a Notice of Removal [ECF No. 1] to remove this
case to federal court on September 16, 2019. On October 21,
2019, United States of America filed a Notice of Substitution
[ECF No. 20] to substitute the United States of America for
Defendants Iqbal Singh and the United States Postal Service.
See Kaba v. Stepp, 458 F.3d 678, 681 (7th Cir. 2006)
(noting that “the United States . . . would be the
proper defendant for tort claims involving acts of the named
officials within the scope of their employment”). On
that same date, Defendant United States filed a Motion to
Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for Failure to State a
Claim [ECF No. 21].
on November 11, 2019, the Plaintiff and Defendant United
States filed a Stipulation of Dismissal Without Prejudice
[ECF No. 24]. The parties stipulated that claims against the
United States would be dismissed without prejudice, pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A)(ii).
Stipulated dismissals under Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(ii) do not
require judicial approval. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
41(a)(1)(A)(ii) (stating that “the plaintiff may
dismiss an action without a court order by filing . . . a
stipulation of dismissal signed by all parties who have
appeared”); Jenkins v. Vill. of Maywood, 506
F.3d 622, 624 (7th Cir. 2007) (noting that a voluntary
dismissal under Rule 41(a)(1) is effective upon the filing of
the stipulation); McCall-Bey v. Franzen, 777 F.2d
1178, 1185 (7th Cir. 1985) (“Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(ii)
requires that the stipulation be filed in court, and the date
of filing is the date the dismissal takes effect.”).
Rule 41(a) speaks in terms of dismissing an
“action” but does not mention the dismissal of
individual claims. See Berthold Types Ltd. v. Adobe Sys.
Inc., 242 F.3d 772, 776 (7th Cir. 2001) (noting that
Rule 41(a)(1) speaks in terms of dismissing an action, not a
claim). Therefore, a stipulation for dismissal is ineffective
here because the claims asserted against the remaining
Defendants are part of the same “action” as the
claims against the United States that the stipulation seeks
Court follows the reasoning set forth in Gatling v.
Nickel, 275 F.R.D. 495 (E.D. Wis. 2011), where the
district court invoked Rule 41(a)(2) to dismiss individual
claims-but not the entire action-pursuant to a stipulation of
the parties. The Gatling court noted the general
consensus that Rule 41(a) provides for the voluntary
dismissal of an action as opposed to individual claims.
Gatling, 275 F.R.D. at 496. However, the court
On the other hand, it should be noted that Rule 41(b), which
allows a defendant to move for involuntary dismissal, permits
the movant to request and the court to grant dismissal of the
entire action, or particular claims. Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b).
While certain cases have read this dichotomy to indicate that
Rule 41(a) thus does not permit dismissal of individual
claims, else it would so state, see Hells Canyon
Preservation Council v. U.S. Forest Serv., 403 F.3d 683,
689 n. 7 (9th Cir. 2005), it does show that Rule 41
contemplates, more generally, a court's power to dismiss
individual claims. Further, the cases which prohibit
dismissal of individual claims under Rule 41(a) have tended
to do so in an adversarial context, that is for example, the
defendant opposed dismissal or the plaintiff attempted to
characterize a dismissal as voluntary on appeal. It would
seem needlessly constraining, where Rule 41 otherwise
contemplates dismissal of individual claims, to prohibit the
dismissal of individual claims under Rule 41(a) where both
parties have stipulated to such. Thus, the court is satisfied
that it has the power to enter an order in this situation.
Gatling, F.R.D. at 496.
consideration of the procedural context of this case, the
Court finds that it has the power, as the court did in
Gatling, to enter an order pursuant to Rule 41(a)(2)
to dismiss certain claims. The Court further finds that
dismissal of the claims against Defendant United States is
appropriate because the context in which dismissal is sought
is not adversarial and there is no prejudice to either party
in allowing the dismissal. It would serve no purpose here,
where the parties have stipulated to the dismissal, to
require the Plaintiff to move to amend his complaint (or
construe the stipulation as a motion to amend), for which
leave would be freely granted, and then require the Defendant
to defend the new complaint.
construed the parties' Stipulation for Dismissal Without
Prejudice as a request for a Court order, the Court, pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2), GRANTS the
dismissal [ECF No. 24] and ORDERS that Plaintiff's
Complaint against Defendant United States of America is
DISMISSED without prejudice. Because Defendant United States
of America is no longer a party to the action, the Court
DENIES as moot the pending Motion to Dismiss for Failure to
State a Claim [ECF No. 21].
 Plaintiff also filed a Stipulation of
Dismissal with Defendant Liberty Mutual Commercial Market
that will be addressed ...