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Greene v. New England Suzuki Institute

United States District Court, D. Maine

November 8, 2018

MICHAEL GREENE, and DEBBIE BERNIER, on behalf of E.G. their minor child Plaintiffs,
v.
NEW ENGLAND SUZUKI INSTITUTE, Defendant.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS

          JOHN A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         After the Court denied their request for a preliminary injunction, a student's parents move to voluntarily dismiss their lawsuit against the operator of a summer educational program and request that the Court enter a dismissal without prejudice. The educational program objects and asks the Court to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice. Applying First Circuit precedent, the Court dismisses the lawsuit without prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 2, 2018, Michael Greene and Debbie Bernier, parents and guardians of E.G., filed a complaint. Compl. (ECF No. 1). New England Suzuki Institute (NESI) answered on May 10, 2018. Answer (ECF No. 5). On May 15, 2018, the Plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. Pls.' Mot. for Prelim. Inj. with Incorporated Mem. of Law (ECF No. 8) (Pls.' Mot.). On June 4, 2018, NESI filed its response in opposition to the motion along with the declarations of three of its staff: Assistant Director Wendy Sawicki, Co-Director Yasmin Vitalius, and President Elizabeth Sellers. Def.'s Obj. to Pls.' Mot. for Prelim. Inj. (ECF No. 9) (Def.'s Opp'n); Def.'s Opp'n Attach. 1 Decl. of Wendy Sawicki; Def.'s Opp'n Attach. 2 Decl. of Yasmin Vitalius; Def.'s Opp'n Attach. 3 Decl. of Elizabeth Sellers. On June 14, 2018, the Plaintiffs filed their reply together with declarations by each of them. Reply Mem. in Support of Pls.' Mot. for Prelim. Inj. (ECF No. 10) (Pls.' Reply); Pls.' Reply Attach. 1 Decl. of Michael Greene; Pls.' Reply Attach. 3 Decl. of Debbie Bernier.

         On June 22, 2018, the Court entered an order denying the Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction. Order on Mot. for Preliminary Inj. (ECF No. 18) (Order on Preliminary Inj.). On July 31, 2018, the Plaintiffs filed a motion to dismiss. Mot. to Dismiss (ECF No. 19). On August 21, 2018, the Defendants filed a response in opposition to the Plaintiffs' motion to dismiss. Resp. to Mot. to Dismiss (ECF No. 21) (Def's. Opp'n). On August 30, 2018, the Plaintiffs filed a reply. Reply to Resp. to Mot. to Dismiss (ECF No. 23) (Pls.' Reply).

         II. POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

         A. Plaintiffs' Motion

         Michael Greene and Debbie Bernier request that the Court dismiss the claims in their Complaint, as:

The 2018 session of the NESI program has already taken place without [their] child, E.G., in attendance. . . The Plaintiffs have determined that it is counterproductive to expend significant time, effort, and expense in pursuing a lawsuit while they feel they need to devote their time and energy to healing their child.

Pls.' Mot. at 2. The Plaintiffs argue that “dismissal without prejudice should be permitted under the rules unless the court finds that the defendant will suffer legal prejudice, ” Id. at 2-3 (citing P.R. Mar. Shipping Auth. v. Leith, 668 F.2d 46, 50 (1st Cir. 1981)). According to the Plaintiffs:

[i]n deciding whether to grant a Rule 41(a)(2) motion, courts typically look to “the defendant's effort and expense of preparation for trial, excessive delay and lack of diligence on the part of the plaintiff in prosecuting the action, insufficient explanation for the need to take a dismissal, and the fact that a motion for summary judgment has been filed by the defendant.

Id. (citing Palmer v. Wells, No. 04-12-P-H, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16154, at *20 (D. Me. Aug. 11, 2004) (quoting Pace v. Southern Express Co., 409 F.2d 331, 334 (7th Cir. 1969)). The Plaintiffs argue that because “the defendant has not filed a counterclaim, neither party has filed a motion for summary judgment, nor have the parties engaged in any depositions or other major expense-generating discovery initiatives, ” the Defendant would not be prejudiced by dismissal. Id. at 3.

         B. Defendant's Response

         NESI does not object to dismissal, but “objects to the ‘Statement of Michael Greene and Debbie Bernier' attached to the Plaintiffs' Motion”, which it views as “an attempt to reargue Plaintiffs' position which has already been rejected by this Court.” Def.'s Opp'n at 1. The Defendant also asks that “any dismissal of this matter . . . be binding in any later filed action” because “Defendant had to drop everything and file a substantive and extensive response to ...


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