Maryland Notice of Dismissal
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The legal effect of a dismissal varies depending upon its type. A dismissal, granted by a court that has exercised its discretion in evaluating the particular case before it, operates similarly in civil and criminal actions.
Rules embodied in state codes of civil procedure and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure govern the granting of dismissals in civil actions brought in state and federal courts. The primary function of a dismissal is to promote the speedy and efficient administration of justice by removing from the consideration of a court any matters that have been unnecessarily delayed to the disadvantage of the defendant. The following discussion deals with civil cases.
" Dismissal with Prejudice: A dismissal with prejudice is a judgment rendered in a lawsuit on its merits that prevents the plaintiff from bringing the same lawsuit against the same defendant in the future. It is a harsh remedy that has the effect of canceling the action so that it can never again be commenced. A dismissal with prejudice is res judicata as to every issue litigated in the action.
" Motion by a defendant: A defendant may make a motion to a court to dismiss the cause of action if the plaintiff has failed to appear to prosecute his or her case. A plaintiff is obligated to prosecute the action with due diligence within a reasonable time of commencing the action. If the passage of time hurts the defendant in the preparation of his or her case or if it substantially affects the defendant's rights, then the defendant may seek a dismissal with prejudice
" Sua sponte power of court: A court has inherent power to dismiss an action with prejudice if it is vexatious, brought in bad faith, or when there has been a failure to prosecute it within a reasonable time. If a plaintiff who has commenced an action fails to comply with discovery devices, a court, which has issued the order of compliance, may sua sponte dismiss the case with prejudice.
" Dismissal without Prejudice: A plaintiff is not subsequently barred from suing the same defendant on the same cause of action when a court grants a dismissal without prejudice of his or her case. Such a dismissal operates to terminate the case. It is not, however, an ultimate disposition of the controversy on the merits, but rather it is usually based upon procedural errors that do not substantially harm the defendant's rights. It effectively treats the matter as if the lawsuit had never been commenced, but it does not relieve a plaintiff of the duty of complying with the statute of limitations, the time limit within which his or her action must be commenced. A dismissal without prejudice is granted in response to a notice of dismissal, stipulations, or a court order.
" Notice of dismissal: A plaintiff may serve a notice of dismissal upon a defendant only if the defendant has not yet submitted an answer in response to the plaintiff's complaint. A notice of dismissal preserves the right of the plaintiff to commence a lawsuit at a later date.
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