While filing a lawsuit, a petitioner may want to withdraw his/her case, either because he may have come to a settlement with the defendant or because he wants to delay the process of taking legal action. Even if you are a defendant, you can still seek dismissal, if the case is legally invalid, or there are legitimate grounds for throwing the case out of court.
A defendant can file for dismissal in cases such that the lawsuit was filed in a wrong court or when there is no legal basis for a claim. A Dismissal of a case is often filed with the court at the earliest stages of the lawsuit, typically before either party i.e. the petitioner/plaintiff or defendant has conducted their discovery. While dismissing a case, you will need to decide whether you want the court to dismiss the case “with prejudice” or “without prejudice."
- “With prejudice” means that you cannot re-file your case ever.
- “Without prejudice” means that you can re-file your case at a later date (as long as you are still within the statute of limitations).
There are various different reasons for dismissing a case. Among them, here are some common reasons:
- The petitioner and defendant both reach an agreement and want to end the case. (If this is the case, the petitioner must make sure the defendant who owes the money follows through with the agreement —and the check or payment clears—before dismissing the case. And make sure that the agreement is in writing and protects both the petitioner and the defendant's interests.
- The defendant which the petitioner sued paid the money he or she owed.
- The petitioner cannot find the defendant to serve him or her but want to reserve the right to sue at a later date.
- The court in which the lawsuit was filed does not have jurisdiction, or the authority, to rule on the matter at hand.
- Each state has a statute of limitations, which means a set timeframe for the petitioner to file a case. The time frames vary by the type of case, as well as by jurisdiction. In any case, if the statute of limitations timeframe has expired, the petitioner no longer has grounds to sue the defendant.
- The court does not have the authority to rule on matters that affect one or all of the parties. For example, if Bob is in a car accident in Texas, and the other party involved in the accident files a lawsuit in Illinois, the court would not be able to hear the case.
- The court, or “venue,” in which the matter has been filed in the wrong court to hear the case.