Singleton v. Entergy Operations Inc
ORDER AND REASONS finding as moot 41 Motion for Summary Judgment. Granting 53 Motion to Dismiss Case. Plaintiff's complaint is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. Signed by Judge Sarah S. Vance on 10/16/2017. (cg)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
ENTERGY OPERATIONS, INC.
SECTION “R” (2)
ORDER AND REASONS
Before the Court are defendant Entergy Operations, Inc.’s motion for
summary judgment 1 and plaintiff Carrie Singleton’s motion for voluntary
dismissal with prejudice.2 For the following reasons, plaintiff’s motion is
granted, and defendant’s motion is denied as moot.
This is a Title VII case, in which plaintiff alleges that defendant
unlawfully terminated and retaliated against her because of her race.
Plaintiff, who is black, was employed as a security officer at defendant’s
nuclear plant in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana.3 During a training activity on
October 7, 2013, plaintiff purportedly pointed her handgun at other
R. Doc. 41.
R. Doc. 53.
R. Doc. 1 at 2 ¶¶ 5-6.
employees, a violation of a safety rule. 4 Defendant terminated plaintiff’s
employment shortly thereafter.5 Plaintiff alleges that white employees who
committed similar safety infractions were not terminated. 6 After she filed a
charge of discrimination with the EEOC on November 20, 2013, and received
a right-to-sue letter on March 20, 2015, plaintiff brought suit on June 15,
Defendant moved for summary judgment on August 29, 2017. 8
Plaintiff did not oppose this motion; instead, she moved for voluntary
dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2). 9 In response to
plaintiff’s motion, defendant agreed that the action should be dismissed with
prejudice, but requested that the Court either (1) rule on the (unopposed)
summary judgment motion, or (2) grant plaintiff’s motion to dismiss with
prejudice and award costs to defendant. 10
Id. at 3 ¶ 11.
Id. at 3 ¶ 14.
Id. at 3 ¶¶ 15-16.
Id. at 3-4 ¶ 17.
R. Doc. 41.
R. Doc. 53.
R. Doc. 54.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2) permits a plaintiff to dismiss
her claims “only by court order, on terms that the court considers proper.” 11
“[M]otions for voluntary dismissal should be freely granted unless the nonmoving party will suffer some plain legal prejudice.” Elbaor v. Tripath
Imaging, Inc., 279 F.3d 314, 317 (5th Cir. 2002).
A dismissal with prejudice generally does not legally harm the
defendant. This is because dismissal with prejudice operates as “a complete
adjudication of the issues presented by the pleadings and is a bar to a further
action between the parties.” Schwarz v. Folloder, 767 F.2d 125, 129 (5th Cir.
1985) (quoting Smoot v. Fox, 340 F.2d 301, 303 (6th Cir. 1964)). Moreover,
“[b]ecause a dismissal with prejudice is tantamount to a judgment on the
merits, the defendant . . . is clearly the prevailing party and should ordinarily
be entitled to costs.” Id.; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d) (“Unless a federal
statute, these rules, or a court order provides otherwise, costs . . . should be
allowed to the prevailing party.”).
Here, dismissal with prejudice would not legally harm defendant.
Defendant first contends that it has spent considerable time and resources
Plaintiff cannot dismiss this action by right under Rule 41(a)(1)
because defendant has filed both an answer and a summary judgment
motion and has not stipulated to dismissal.
on its summary judgment motion. It is true that “[w]here the plaintiff does
not seek dismissal until a late stage and the defendants have exerted
significant time and effort, the district court may, in its discretion, refuse to
grant a voluntary dismissal.” Hartford Acc. & Indem. Co. v. Costa Lines
Cargo Servs., Inc., 903 F.2d 352, 360 (5th Cir. 1990). But the timing of a
plaintiff’s voluntary dismissal bears only on dismissal without prejudice,
which subjects the defendant “to the potential of additional litigation
expenses.” Schwarz, 767 F.2d at 129. When the plaintiff seeks to dismiss
with prejudice, the defendant will not have to expend additional resources in
a separate litigation related to the same claim. Defendant also notes that it
has defended this case, which it views as frivolous, for over two years. For
this reason, defendant argues, it deserves a judicial finding that there is no
evidence of race discrimination in this case. But dismissal with prejudice is
a final adjudication on the merits; thus, “defendant receives all that [it]
would have received had the case been completed.” Id. The Court therefore
grants plaintiff’s motion for voluntary dismissal with prejudice.
Because plaintiff has voluntarily dismissed her claims against
defendant, the Court need not reach the merits of defendants’ motion for
summary judgment. With regard to costs, the Court directs the parties to
follow the procedures described in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1)
and Local Rule 54.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS plaintiff’s motion for
voluntary dismissal. The Court DENIES defendant’s motion for summary
judgment as moot. Plaintiff’s complaint is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this _____ day of October, 2017.
SARAH S. VANCE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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