United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. HOOD SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Parties, through counsel, filed a Joint Stipulation of
Dismissal [DE 20] indicating that all claims against
Defendant JP Morgan Chase may be dismissed with prejudice.
The claims against other Defendants will remain.
because dismissal of claims against a single party is not
appropriate under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41, the
Court construes the Joint Stipulation of Dismissal [DE 20] as
a motion to dismiss under Rule 21. Accordingly, the
Parties' Joint Stipulation of Dismissal [DE 20], which
the Court construes as a motion to dismiss under Rule 21,
will be GRANTED and the claims against JP
Morgan Chase will be DISMISSED WITH
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
3, 2019, the United States filed a Complaint against
Defendants Harold W. Roberts and Debra W. Roberts. [DE 1]. On
August 23, 2019, the United States filed an Amended Complaint
adding Defendants Wesbanco Bank, Inc. and JP Morgan Chase.
[DE 4]. Now, the Parties agree to dismiss all claims against
JP Morgan Chase with prejudice. [DE 20]. As a result, this
matter is ripe for review.
the Parties agree to dismiss JP Morgan Chase from this
action. But, as this Court has previously explained, Rule
41(a) does not allow a court to dismiss some, but not all, of
the defendants in a single case. See United States ex
rel. Doe v. Preferred Care, Inc., 326 F.R.D. 462 (E.D.
Ky. 2018). In the Sixth Circuit, a plaintiff may only dismiss
an “action” using Rule 41(a) and an
“action” is interpreted to mean the “entire
controversy.” Philip Carey Manufacturing Company v.
Taylor, 286 F.2d 782, 785 (6th Cir. 1961). While some
Circuits disagree with the Sixth Circuit's interpretation
of Rule 41(a), this Court is bound by Sixth Circuit
precedent. See Preferred Care, 326 F.R.D. at 464;
see, e.g., Van Leeuwen v. Bank of Am.,
N.A., 304 F.R.D. 691, 693- 94 (D. Utah 2015) (discussing
the circuit split and citing cases).
this does not end the analysis, because the Court construes
filings “by their substantive content and not by their
labels, ” and, as such, this Court will consider the
Agreed Order of Dismissal [DE 64] as a motion to dismiss a
party under Rule 21. See Coleman v. Ohio State Univ. Med.
Ctr., No. 2:11-cv-0049, 2011 WL 3273531, at *3 (S.D.
Ohio Aug. 1, 2011).
may be used for the dismissal of a single defendant. See
Taylor, 286 F.2d at 785 (“[W]e think that [Rule
21] is the one under which any action to eliminate” a
single defendant should be taken); see also Letherer v.
Alger Grp., LLC, 328 F.3d 262, 266 (6th Cir. 2003),
overruled on other grounds by Blackburn v. Oaktree
Capital Mgmt., LLC, 511 F.3d 633, 636 (6th Cir. 2008);
Wilkerson v. Brakebill, No. 3:15-CV-435-TAV-CCS,
2017 WL 401212 (E.D. Tenn. Jan. 30, 2017) (“Rule 21 is
the more appropriate rule”); Lester v. Wow Car Co.,
Ltd., No. 2:11-cv-850, 2012 WL 1758019, at *2 n.2 (S.D.
Ohio May 16, 2012) (“the Sixth Circuit has suggested
that dismissal of an individual party, as opposed to an
entire action, is properly conducted pursuant to Rule 21, not
Rule 41”); Warfel v. Chase Bank USA, N.A., No.
2:11-cv-699, 2012 WL 441135, at *2 (S.D. Ohio Feb. 10, 2012).
Thus, the Court construes the Joint Stipulation of Dismissal
[DE 20] as a motion to dismiss a single party under Rule 21.
motion or on its own, the court may at any time, on just
terms, add or drop a party.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 21. The rule
applies where “no relief is demanded from one or more
of the parties joined as defendants.”
Letherer, 328 F.3d at 267. Normally, under the rule,
Courts must consider prejudice to the nonmoving party.
See Wilkerson, 2017 WL 401212, at *2; Arnold v.
Heyns, No. 13-14137, 2015 WL 1131767, at *4 (E.D. Mich.
Mar. 11, 2015). The inquiry overlaps with Rule 41 standards
“as guidance in evaluating potential prejudice to the
non-movant.” Wilkerson, 2017 WL 401212, at *2.
Courts determine whether the nonmoving party would suffer
“plain legal prejudice” and consider: (1)
defendant's effort and expense of preparation for trial;
(2) excessive delay and lack of diligence on plaintiff's
part in prosecuting the case; (3) insufficient explanation
for the need for dismissal; and (4) whether a motion for
summary judgment is pending.” Grover v. Eli Lily
& Co., 33 F.3d 716, 718 (6th Cir. 1994). While the
Parties have agreed to dismiss, the Court considers the
relevant factors below.
JP Morgan Chase has not filed an answer, so it has likely
expended little time and few resources, if any, preparing for
trial in this matter. In fact, the Court has yet to enter a
scheduling order, so there is no trial date pending in this
case. As a result, the first factor supports dismissal.
there is no indicia of any delay or lack of due diligence on
the part of the United States in this matter. It appears that
the United States is engaging in a good faith attempt to
resolve the dispute in a timely manner, which supports
JP Morgan Chase asserts no claim to the property at issue in
this matter, so the explanation for the dismissal of JP
Morgan Chase as a Defendant is sufficient. [DE 20, at 1]. As
such, this factor weighs in favor of dismissal under Rule 21.
and finally, there is no pending motion for summary judgment
in this matter. Thus, the fourth factor ...