District Court Granted Voluntary Motion to Dismiss Against Named Defendant But Disallowed Reservation of Rights as to Unnamed Third Parties

April 17, 2017

In this patent infringement action, Plaintiff Wright's Well Control Services, LLC (WWCS) filed a motion to voluntarily dismiss defendant Christopher Mancini pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2) with prejudice, but with a "reservation of all rights and actions against co-defendant Oceaneering International, Inc., and any other parties and solidary obligors."

Defendant Mancini opposed the reservation of rights against unnamed third parties. Mancini also moved for summary judgment on plaintiff's claims, and WWCS filed a moved for an extension of time to respond to Mancini's motion for summary judgment.

The district court began the analysis of the motion for voluntarily dismissal by looking at Rule 41(a)(2), stating that "Rule 41(a)(2) gives the Court discretion to dismiss an action under terms and condition the Court deems proper. See Bechuck v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., 814 F.3d 287, 298 (5th Cir. 2016) (citation omitted)."

As a result, the district court granted WWCS's motion to dismiss all claims against Mancini with prejudice, and its reservation of rights against Oceaneering. But the district court denies WWCS's request to reserve any rights against unnamed third-parties because the length the case had been pending.

The district court explained: This case has been pending for nearly two years, extensive discovery has been conducted, and WWCS has amended its complaint four times. Despite discovery and multiple versions of its complaint, WWCS has at no point identified any other possible third parties or solidary obligors that may be liable. Trial is scheduled for July 17, 2017, and the deadline to amend WWCS's complaint has passed. The Court will not permit the reservation of rights against unnamed third parties on the facts presented here. See Curol v. Energy Resources Technology Inc., 203 F. App'x 675, 678 (5th Cir. 2006) (finding district court did not abuse discretion in denying request to reserve rights against party because "AOP never became a party to the action, and [plaintiff] had no right to proceed against AOP in the case").

Accordingly, the district court granted the motion to dismiss but would not permit the reservation of rights as to third parties.

Wright's Well Control Services, LLC v. Oceaneering Int'l, Inc., Case No. 15-1720 (E.D. La. April 2017)

The authors of www.PatentLawyerBlog.com are patent trial lawyers at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. For more information about this case, contact Stan Gibson at 310.201.3548 or SGibson@jmbm.com.