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Chicago IP Litigation Tracking Northern District of Illinois IP Cases

Must Decide Form of Dismissal Before Considering Fees

Posted in Federal Rules

Zander v. Groh, No. 10 C 944, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 30, 2011) (Manning, J.).

Judge Manning mooted defendant Groh’s objections to the Magistrate Judge’s failure to award attorney’s fees for a voluntary dismissal in this copyright and trademark action. After a brief discovery period, plaintiff Zander moved pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 15 to amend its complaint deleting its copyright claim and adding a Lanham Act claim. The Magistrate Judge treated the deletion of the copyright claim as a Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(2) voluntary dismissal, dismissing the claim with prejudice. The Magistrate Judge did not award attorney’s fees for defending the copyright claim, however, to avoid chilling voluntary dismissals and the resulting reduction in legal fees for both sides.

The Court ordered further briefing to resolve whether the deletion of the copyright claim should be treated pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P 15 or 41.

In the interest of judicial economy, the Court reserved a decision regarding whether attorney’s fees were appropriate until the Court decided whether the dismissal was by amendment or as a Rule 41(a)(2) voluntary dismissal.