Medina County Courthouse

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Voluntary Dismissals & Court Costs

I recently issued a decision on whether a party who dismisses after a settlement can recover court costs under the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure. I concluded that since only a "prevailing" party can recover court costs and since there is no such party when there is a settlement followed by a voluntary dismissal, the party dismissing the case can not recover its costs. Excerpts from my decision appear below:

This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss and Assessment of Court Costs. Upon due consideration, the Court finds that said motion is not well taken, in part.

This is a foreclosure action in which Plaintiff seeks to dismiss its Complaint and assess the costs of the action against the Defendant homeowners. Plaintiff contends that the Court has the power to assess the costs against the Defendants pursuant to Ohio Civil Rule 54 (D). Civ. R. 54 (D) states “except when express provision therefore is made either in a statute or in these rules, costs shall be allowed to the prevailing party unless the court otherwise directs.”

In Ohio Civil Rights Commission v. GMS Management Co., Inc., 2000 Ohio App. LEXIS 2827 (2000), The Ninth District Court of Appeals held “ a dismissal pursuant to Civ. R. 41(A) does not adjudicate the merits of the claim and does not produce a prevailing party.” The Court held that a voluntary dismissal returns the parties to the position they were in prior to the filing of the case.

This Court finds that in an action where Plaintiff voluntarily dismisses its case, and has not so dismissed once before, there is no prevailing party. Therefore, the provision is Civ. R. 54(D) does not apply to this action.

Medina County Court of Common Pleas, Rules of the General Division, Rule 10 (D) states “Upon voluntary dismissal of any action or claim, court costs associated with that claim shall be assessed to the dismissing parties unless otherwise ordered by the Court.”

This Court finds that assessing the costs against the Defendant homeowners would not return them to the position they were in prior to the commencement of the action. Therefore, the Court finds that there is not a compelling reason to alter the general rule that the party that dismisses a case is responsible for the costs of that action.

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