It was an abuse of discretion to dismiss a case that the parties had agreed to settle as to the named plaintiff, because of the plaintiff’s attorney’s errors is attempting to prosecute the case as a class action.
“There were other options available to the district court, but it never discussed them. The district court dismissed the case without considering what claims still were in the lawsuit. Most troublesome was the summary disposition of Kasalo’s individual claim for statutory damages, despite Harris’s confession seconds before dismissal that it intended to settle that claim. We see no justification for dismissing Kasalo’s individual claim. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b) provides, ‘If a plaintiff fails to prosecute or to comply with . . . a court order, a defendant may move to dismiss the action or any claim against it.’ (Emphasis added.) Even if the district court had reason to dismiss all three class counts for want of prosecution, the rules gave it leeway to do so without terminating Kasalo’s meritorious claim. Any delay in the case was attributable to class issues, and it was those claims that were candidates for dismissal. It is also worth noting that the low dollar value of Kasalo’s individual claim is not a reason to dismiss it. Congress has provided a remedy for victims like Kasalo, and it is up to the plaintiff to decide whether to pursue her individual claim. Harris admits that it harmed Kasalo within the meaning of the Act, and it should compensate her for that wrong. Whether the rest of the case was appropriately dismissed or not (and we have concluded that it was not), it was an abuse of discretion to neglect Kasalo’s individual claim.”
Reversed and Remanded.
10-2755 Kasalo v. Harris & Harris, Ltd.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Guzmán, J., Wood, J.