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Eleventh Circuit rules that plaintiff who voluntarily dismissed federal lawsuit was not liable for costs under Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(d) after refiling claim in Florida state court

On March 2, 2020, in Sargeant v. Hall, No. 18-15205, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a Southern District of Florida ruling that a plaintiff who voluntarily dismissed a federal lawsuit was not liable for costs under Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(d) after refiling his claim in Florida state court. Under Rule 41(d), if a plaintiff who voluntarily dismissed an action files a second action against the same defendant based on or including the same claim, “the court: (1) may order the plaintiff to pay all or part of the costs of that previous action; and (2) may stay the proceedings until the plaintiff has complied.” The district court and the Court of Appeals concluded that the rule does not apply to subsequent filings in state court. The Eleventh Circuit noted that the language of the federal rule, which appears to expressly require that the costs be paid as a part of the subsequent action, is substantively different than the analogous Florida rule, Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.420(d), which the Florida Supreme Court has interpreted to require that costs “be assessed in the action that is the subject of the voluntary dismissal.” Wilson v. Rose Printing Co., 624 So. 2d 257, 258 (Fla. 1993).

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