Stiaes v. GEORXT, Inc.
ORDER AND REASONS denying 19 MOTION to Dismiss Party Reservoir Exploration Technology, Inc. filed by Juan J. Stiaes without prejudice and ORDERS the plaintiff's complaint dismissed with prejudice.. Signed by Chief Judge Sarah S. Vance on 7/18/13.(jjs, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
JUAN J. STIAES
ORDER AND REASONS
Plaintiff moves for a voluntary dismissal under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2).1 For the following reasons,
plaintiff's motion is DENIED.
Defendant RXT is a Texas corporation with its headquarters
in Houston. Juan Stiaes, a resident of Slidell, Louisiana, began
working for RXT as a mechanic in 2008. In 2011, RXT stationed
Stiaes as a mechanic on the M/V Sanco Star, a vessel located off
the coast of Africa. On March 15, 2012, GEORXT, a corporation
organized under the laws of the British Virgin Islands, hired
Stiaes as a mechanic on the M/V Sanco Star. On July 7, 2012,
plaintiff suffered an injury to his right hand. Plaintiff
subsequently sued GEORXT and RXT, asserting claims under the
Jones Act, the Oceanographic Research Vessels Act, and the
general maritime law of the United States.2
R. Doc. 19.
R. Docs. 1, 4.
Both defendants moved to dismiss Stiaes's claims.3 On June
18, 2013, this Court dismissed Stiaes's claim against GEORXT for
want of jurisdiction and dismissed Stiaes's claim against RXT for
failure to state a claim.4 The Court, however, granted Stiaes 14
days to file an amended complaint to properly state a claim
against RXT.5 Stiaes did not file an amended complaint within 14
days, and concedes that he is "unable to amend his complaint to
better state a claim against RXT."6 Nevertheless, plaintiff files
this motion to dismiss his claim against RXT without prejudice
under Rule 41(a)(2).7 RXT opposes plaintiff's motion.8
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2) provides: "Except
as provided in Rule 41(a)(1), an action may be dismissed at the
plaintiff's request only by court order, on terms that the court
considers proper." A decision as to whether to grant a dismissal
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2) lies within the
sound discretion of the district court. Davis v. Huskipower
Outdoor Equipment, 936 F.2d 193, 199 (5th Cir. 1991). The Fifth
R. Doc. 10.
R. Doc. 18.
R. Doc. 19-1 at 2.
R. Doc. 19.
R. Doc. 20.
Circuit has explained that, “as a general rule, motions for
voluntary dismissal should be freely granted unless the nonmoving party will suffer some plain legal prejudice other than
the mere prospect of a second lawsuit.” Elbaor v. Triparth
Imaging, Inc., 279 F.3d 314, 317 (5th Cir. 2002). In assessing
the prejudice to the non-moving party, courts examine the stage
of the litigation at which the motion is made. See Hartford
Accident & Indem. Co. v. Costa Lines Cargo Servs., Inc., 903 F.2d
352, 360 (5th Cir. 1990).
Stiaes's lawsuit against RXT is in its last throes. This
Court granted RXT's motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim, and "[a] dismissal with prejudice for failure to state a
claim is a decision on the merits and essentially ends the
plaintiff's lawsuit." Mahone v. Addicks Util. Dist., 836 F.2d
921, 940 (5th Cir. 1988) (citation omitted). In its discretion,
the Court granted plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint to
cure the defects in its claim against RXT. Had this Court simply
granted RXT's motion to dismiss without providing leave to amend,
Stiaes's motion would have been dismissed with prejudice. It
would be an odd rule that a plaintiff could lose on a dispositive
motion but get a mulligan through Rule 42(a)(2) because the
district court granted leave to amend.
In an analogous case, the Fifth Circuit has held that a
defendant suffers legal prejudice when a voluntary dismissal
would "strip[the defendant] of an absolute defense to the suit"
in the second lawsuit. Phillips v. Ill. Cent. Gulf R.R., 874 F.2d
984, 987 (5th Cir. 1989) (holding that voluntary dismissal was
properly denied when defendant would lose benefit of statute of
limitations defense that served as the basis of its summary
judgment motion). Similarly, here, RXT has had a favorable ruling
on the merits of its case. If having to defend a case you have
already won "does not constitute clear legal prejudice to the
defendant, it is hard to envision what would." Id. Accordingly,
plaintiff's motion is denied, and his claims against RXT are
dismissed with prejudice.
Plaintiff's motion is denied, and his claims against RXT are
dismissed with prejudice.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this 18th day of July, 2013.
SARAH S. VANCE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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