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Hinfin Realty Corp. v. Pittston Co.

United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
206 F.R.D. 350 (E.D.N.Y. 2002)


Facts

Hinfin Realty Corp. and others (plaintiffs) sued Pittston Co. (Pittston) (defendant) for environmental damage to their property on July 24, 2000, but took no action on the suit until they amended their complaint on February 1, 2001. Very little discovery followed. Pittson moved to stay the proceedings, which the plaintiffs opposed. Pittston began making discovery demands. Hinfin’s president, Donald Death, Sr. then became ill and died. Death, Sr. was an important witness for the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs’ financial situation also deteriorated. Pittston offered the plaintiffs evidence that it was not the proper defendant. The plaintiffs asked Pittston to stipulate to a dismissal without prejudice, so they could determine if Pittston was the correct defendant. Pittston refused. The plaintiffs withdrew their objection to Pittston’s request for a stay. When the stay was denied, the plaintiffs moved for a voluntary dismissal without prejudice, which Pittston opposed. Pittston argued it would be prejudiced if the suit was reinitiated later, because it would be subject to duplicative litigation, witnesses would die, and memories would fade. Alternately, Pittston requested that the court condition a dismissal without prejudice on an award of costs and attorney’s fees totaling $135,000.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Spatt, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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