If a case is dismissed it generally means the case is over.
- A case can be dismissed voluntarily if the parties come to an agreement or the plaintiff or petitioner decides they don't want to move ahead with the case. A voluntary dismissal can occur through a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal or a Motion to Voluntarily Dismiss.
- A case can be dismissed by the court, usually for inactivity. Sometimes a case can be dismissed by the court as a sanction (punishment) against one party.
- A case can be dismissed at the request of a defendant or respondent if they file a motion to dismiss and the judge grants the motion.
Voluntary Dismissal by Notice or Stipulation
A plaintiff can dismiss a civil complaint, counterclaim or other claim they have filed without a court order. They can do this by filing a document called Notice of Voluntary Dismissal. This option is available if:
- The defendant has not been served with the complaint or petition, or
- The defendant has been served, but they have not yet filed an answer.
If the defendant has filed an answer, but the parties agree, they can both sign a Stipulation of Voluntary Dismissal.
Dismissal by notice or stipulation is "without prejudice," which means it is possible for the plaintiff or counterclaimant to bring their claim again in the future by asking the court to set aside or "undo" the dismissal.
If the defendant has filed an answer and the parties do not agree to dismiss, the plaintiff would instead have to file a motion to ask the court to dismiss the case.
Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 41.
Motion to Voluntarily Dismiss Case, Counterclaim, Crossclaim or Third-party Claim
The plaintiff or petitioner (or counterclaimant, crossclaimant, or third-party claimant) can ask to dismiss their own case by filing a Motion to Voluntarily Dismiss Case, Counterclaim, Crossclaim or Third-party Claim. Forms are available at the bottom of this page. The process for this kind of motion follows the general motion process.
This kind of dismissal is "without prejudice," which means it is possible for the plaintiff or counterclaimant to bring their claim again in the future by asking the court to set aside or "undo" the dismissal.
Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 41.
Will the motion be decided by a judge or commissioner?
Judges may rule on all motions in all types of cases. However, in Judicial Districts 1, 2, 3 and 4, commissioners are assigned to hear most matters in divorce cases and several other types of family law cases. Motions decided by a judge and motions decided by a commissioner follow different procedures.
If you are not sure whether your case is assigned to a judge or commissioner, find out. Call the court, or look at the caption of the complaint or petition. If a commissioner's name has been listed in the caption, the motion likely will be decided by a commissioner.
Motions decided by a judge are governed by URCP 7. A judge will not rule on a motion until the time for filing an opposition to the motion has passed and a Request to Submit for Decision has been filed.
Motions decided by a commissioner are governed by URCP 101.
See the Motions web page for information about the difference in procedures and timelines depending on who is deciding the motion.
Dismissal by the court
A civil case can be dismissed by the court for a number of reasons, including:
- lack of prosecution, meaning there has been no activity in the case for a long time, or
- failure to serve the defendant within 120 days of filing, or
- failure to pay the filing fee.
The court will usually send a notice to the parties telling them that it plans to dismiss the case before dismissing it. The notice may give the parties a deadline to take actions to move the case forward.
If a civil case has been dismissed for one of these reasons, a party can ask to set aside or "undo" the dismissal, and continue moving forward with the case by filing a Motion to Vacate Dismissal and Reinstate Civil Case. The Motion to Vacate Dismissal and Reinstate Civil Case web page has information about the process, and forms.
Utah Rule of Judicial Administration 4-103 and Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(1).
Motion to Dismiss the other party's case
A party can ask to dismiss a case filed by another party for a number of reasons, including:
- Lack of jurisdiction – the court does not have the authority to hear this kind of case.
- Insufficiency of process – there is a problem with the summons.
- Insufficiency of service of process – there is a problem with the way the documents were served.
- Failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted – the complaint does not give the parties enough information about the claim, what kind of relief is sought, or an idea of what kind of case it is.
- Failure to join a party – the complaint does not name a party who is indispensable to the case.
Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b).
A party wanting to file this kind of motion can use the forms found on the Motions web page.
Information about filing documents in existing cases by email
The forms you need depend on your case. What is your case about?