In Wells Fargo v Clark, No. A162461, the Oregon Court of Appeals held that defendants may file an answer and counterclaim even while their ORCP 21 A motion to dismiss is still pending. In this case, on the morning of the hearing on the defendants’ motion to dismiss, the defendants filed an answer to the plaintiff’s complaint and counterclaims. The same morning, the plaintiff filed a notice of voluntary dismissal. The trial court ruled that the answer and counterclaims were “a legal nullity,” on the theory that parties are not allowed to file a motion to dismiss and an answer at the same time. The Oregon Court of Appeals disagreed, holding that nothing in the Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure prevents a defendant from filing a responsive pleading or counterclaim while its motion to dismiss is still pending.
This opinion has potential implications in any case in which the plaintiff may seek to voluntarily dismiss its claims without the defendant’s consent while a motion to dismiss is pending. ORCP 54 A(1) provides that a plaintiff can voluntarily dismiss its claims without order of the court merely by filing and serving a notice of dismissal “if no counterclaim has been pleaded.”Continue Reading Pending Motion to Dismiss Does Not Prevent Filing Answer & Counterclaims