Q: Is a ruling final when the judge states, Dismissed, in court and the plaintiff asked to withdraw her motion?
Trying to decide if a ruling was based on the merits and therefore final and support Res Judicata on the same issue in the future. I was in court and told the judge I did not want to go forward with my motion because I did not know it was on the docket and am not prepared. Another issue of child access was also scheduled. So the judge asked if I want to withdraw. I said that I do not understand? Judge said Yes or No do I want to withdraw? Still confused, wanting to refile so I said NO. Judge continued on and said call your witness. Again, I said that I am not prepared and do not want to proceed at this time. (the opposing counsel filed an answer and did not agree to a dismissal) So judge dismissed it and went on to the other matter of Child Access. Does this qualify as a final decision based on merits or a withdrawal or a voluntary dismissal with no prejudice? Daily sheet didn't mention this. Clerk made an error docketing and wrote "Sale of House"when that was not said by Judge.
A: In all likelihood, yes, the dismissal is with prejudice in these circumstances and you will be precluded from re-raising the same issue based on anything that has happened up through the date of dismissal. When a party comes to court on their trial date and is unprepared to proceed, unless the judge grants a postponement to another date, the pending claims must be addressed. That happens by your voluntary dismissal, which is with prejudice unless the opposing party agrees it is not, or the judge in his/her discretion rules that the dismissal is without prejudice. A dismissal with prejudice is effectively a decision on the merits for purposes of res judicata and collateral estoppel—two legal doctrines that preclude a party from re-filing a new suit or claim, or raising the same issue on the same factual grounds in the same or different proceeding, arguing for the same relief.
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