Youseff v. Tishman Construction Corp., No. 12-4135 (2d Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed a qui tam action against defendants under the federal False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729 et seq., and under the New York False Claims Act, N.Y. Fin. Law 187 et seq. Before defendants filed an answer or made a motion for summary judgment, plaintiff sought to voluntarily dismiss the action. The district court dismissed the action without prejudice as to the United States and the State of New York, but with prejudice as to plaintiff. The court disagreed with the district court that the statement by plaintiff's counsel that plaintiff would not "pursue this matter any further" constituted "the plain English equivalent of a request that the Court dismiss the claim with prejudice." The court concluded that the plain language of the letter supplied no reason to conclude that plaintiff's counsel was requesting a dismissal with prejudice. In the absence of any indication by the plaintiff, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a), which governs the voluntary dismissal of an action, presumes that a voluntary dismissal under these circumstances is without prejudice. Accordingly, the district court erred by dismissing the case with prejudice. The court also rejected defendants' alternative argument that the dismissal should be analyzed under Rule 41(a)(2). The court vacated and remanded.