United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO DISMISS
WITHOUT PREJUDICE [ECF No. 20]
Cynthia Bashant United States District Judge.
Suzanne Tanis filed a complaint in San Diego Superior Court
against Defendant Southwest Airlines Co. Southwest removed
the case to this Court and answered the complaint. (ECF Nos.
1, 2.) Southwest moved to compel arbitration, which the Court
granted and ordered the parties to proceed to arbitration.
(ECF No. 16.) A few months later, Plaintiff filed a notice of
voluntary dismissal, stating she was dismissing her case
without prejudice. (ECF No. 17.) Southwest objected to the
notice for a few reasons, one being that the case could not
be dismissed without a court order. (ECF No. 18.) Indeed,
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2), the
case could not be dismissed without a court order because
Southwest had filed an answer. The Court denied
Plaintiff's request and informed her that she could file
a proper noticed motion requesting dismissal of her case.
has done so and moves to dismiss her entire case without
prejudice. (“Mot., ” ECF No. 20.) Southwest
opposes the Motion. (“Opp'n, ” ECF No. 21.)
Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2) states that “an action
may be dismissed at the plaintiff's request only by court
order, on terms that the court considers proper. . . . Unless
the order states otherwise, a dismissal under this paragraph
(2) is without prejudice.” Further, “[a] district
court should grant a motion for voluntary dismissal under
Rule 41(a)(2) 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) (footnote
omitted). “‘[L]egal prejudice' means
‘prejudice to some legal interest, some legal claim,
some legal argument.'” Id. at 976 (quoting
Westlands Water Dist. v. United States, 100 F.3d 94,
97 (9th Cir. 1996)). “[P]lain legal prejudice does not
result merely because the defendant will be inconvenienced by
having to defend in another forum or where a plaintiff would
gain a tactical advantage.” Id. But
“blatant forum shopping may be valid grounds to deny a
Rule 41(a)(2) motion.” Sukonik v. Wright Med.
Tech., Inc., No. 14-8278-BRO (MRWx), 2016 WL 5921124, at
*2 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 2, 2016 (citing Kern Oil & Ref.
Co. v. Tenneco Oil Co., 792 F.2d 1380, 1389-90 (9th Cir.
arguing prejudice, Southwest points to the procedural history
of this and another related case. Southwest notes that soon
after Plaintiff filed the instant action, she filed a second
complaint in state court. (Mot. at 2.) The present case was
filed as a putative class action, and the second case is a
putative representation action filed under the Private
Attorneys' Generals Act (“PAGA”).
(Id.) At Southwest's request, the state court
judge stayed the PAGA case pending arbitration. (Id.
at 3.) The judge acknowledged that Plaintiff stated she would
dismiss her individual claims to avoid arbitration if the
PAGA case was stayed. (Id.) The PAGA case is
to Southwest, Plaintiff has not initiated arbitration. And
Southwest argues that if this case is dismissed without
prejudice, it will allow Plaintiff to “circumvent this
Court's arbitration order” and take advantage of
forum shopping. (Id. at 2, 5.) Southwest requests
the Court “enter an order denying the Motion and
instructing Plaintiff that the Court will dismiss her action
with prejudice if she does not initiate arbitration within 21
days of the Court's order denying the Motion.”
(Id.) Plaintiff states she does not want to pursue
her individual and class claims at this time, and she
acknowledges that if she decides to pursue those claims, she
will need to do so in arbitration. (“Reply, ” ECF
No. 22, at 2.)
Court finds that there is no evidence of forum shopping.
Instead, Plaintiff seeks to pursue her PAGA claims rather
than her individual and class claims. The Court cannot force
Plaintiff to initiate arbitration (as Southwest requests) if
she instead chooses to drop her claims and pursue
non-arbitrable claims. Therefore, the Court finds no legal
prejudice to Southwest. If Plaintiff ever does decide to
pursue her individual or class claims, she acknowledges she
must do so in arbitration, thus, Southwest is not losing any
legal rights. And if Plaintiff decides to pursue her claims
in arbitration, Southwest will not be forced to repeat any
work or expend any unnecessary resources. The only actions it
has taken have been in this Court, and those actions would
not need to be duplicated in an arbitration proceeding.
Further, Southwest has no right to have Plaintiffs PAGA
claims litigated in arbitration, so it is not losing any
rights in defending them in state court. Without any legal
prejudice to Southwest, the Court finds no basis to deny
Plaintiffs motion to dismiss.
foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS
Plaintiffs Motion to Dismiss and DISMISSES
this case without prejudice. The Clerk is instructed to close