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Andrade v. Gaurino

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

July 16, 2019

MILLICENT ANDRADE, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ABNER GAURINO, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS COUNTERCLAIM

          Jill A. Otake, United States District Judge.

         Defendants Abner Gaurino, Aurora Guarino, and Abigail Gaurino move to dismiss with prejudice their counterclaim filed on June 15, 2017. For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS the Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         As the parties and the Court are familiar with the history of this case, the Court includes only those facts relevant to the dismissal.

         Plaintiffs Millicent Andrade, Craig Stanley, The Edmon Keller and Cleavette Mae Stanley Family Trust (the “Trust”), and their limited liability company Atooi Aloha, LLC, filed the Complaint on June 26, 2016. ECF No. 1. On June 15, 2017, the Gaurino Defendants filed a counterclaim based on state law, ECF No. 52, and Plaintiffs answered on July 10, 2017, ECF No. 75. For various reasons stated on the record, Plaintiffs did not proceed to trial on July 8, 2019. The Court dismissed the claims of Plaintiffs Stanley and the Trust with prejudice for failure to prosecute and failure to comply with court orders and rules, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”) 41(b). ECF No. 478 at 12. Then Plaintiff Andrade moved for voluntary dismissal of the First Amended Complaint, which was granted with prejudice. ECF No. 480 at 10-11.

         Defendants move to dismiss the counterclaim with prejudice pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”) 41(a)(2). The Court may decide this matter without a hearing pursuant to Rule 7.2(d) of the Local Rules of Practice for the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii. For the below reasons, the Court GRANTS the Motion.

         II. LEGAL ANALYSIS

         A. Rule 41(a)(2) Legal Standard

         FRCP 41(a)(2) provides:

Except as provided in Rule 41(a)(1), [1] an action may be dismissed at the plaintiff's[2] request only by court order, on terms that the court considers proper. If a defendant has pleaded a counterclaim before being served with the plaintiff's motion to dismiss, the action may be dismissed over the defendant's objection only if the counterclaim can remain pending for independent adjudication. Unless the order states otherwise, a dismissal under this paragraph (2) is without prejudice.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(2).

         Decisions regarding motions for voluntary dismissal are left “to the district court's sound discretion and the court's order will not be disturbed unless the court has abused its discretion.” Westlands Water Dist. v. United States, 100 F.3d 94, 96 (9th Cir. 1996). A motion for voluntary dismissal should be granted “unless a defendant can show that it will suffer some plain legal prejudice as a result.” Smith v. Lenches, 263 F.3d 972, 975 (9th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted). “‘[L]egal prejudice' means ‘prejudice to some legal interest, some legal claim, some legal argument.'” Id. at 976. Plain legal prejudice does not result due to uncertainty from unresolved disputes or a threat of future litigation. Id. In addition, plain legal prejudice does not exist “merely because the defendant will be inconvenienced by having to defend in another forum or where a plaintiff would gain a tactical advantage by that dismissal.” Id. Finally, incurring expenses defending against a lawsuit does not constitute legal prejudice. Westlands, 100 F.3d at 97.

         Courts make three determinations in exercising their discretion to allow dismissal: “(1) whether to allow the dismissal at all; (2) whether the dismissal should be with or without prejudice; and (3) what terms and conditions, if any, should be imposed.” Burnette v. Godshall, 828 F.Supp. 1439, 1443 (N.D. Cal. 1993), aff'd sub nom., Burnette v. Lockheed Missiles & Space Co., 72 F.3d 766 (9th Cir. 1995).

         B. ...


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