Voluntary (and involuntary) dismissal analogized to amendments of pleadings

Note the similarities between voluntary dismissals and amendments of pleadings.

 What plaintiff seeks FRCP 15 Rule 41
Voluntary dismissal: 

Plaintiff wants to exercise a unilateral right

Amendment as a matter of course:  

Limited in time. FRCP 15(a)(1).

Notice of dismissal:   

Plaintiff’s right to do NOD is cut off by service of an answer or motion for summary judgment. FRCP 41(a)(1).

Voluntary dismissal: 

Plaintiff asks other parties to agree

Written consent of opposing party.  

FRCP 15(a)(2).

Stipulation of dismissal:    

Signed by all parties who have appeared. FRCP 41(a)(2).

Voluntary dismissal: 

Plaintiff makes a motion with the court

By leave of court:   

At court’s discretion, to be freely given when justice so requires. FRCP 15(1)(2).

By court order:   

At court’s discretion, on terms that the court considers proper. FRCP 41(a)(2).

Involuntary dismissal: 

Plaintiff has not asked for anything; instead, defendant seeks dismissal

During or after trial:

Court has discretion and sometimes must amend the pleadings based on what is presented at trial, even if the claimant objects. FRCP 15(b).

Involuntary dismissal:   

If the plaintiff fails to prosecute or to comply with these rules or a court order, a defendant may move to dismiss the action or any claim against it. FRCP 41(b).

Posted Nov. 2, 2016