We are currently the Plaintiffs in a Lawsuit with our County in California, and some of their employees, this Lawsuit has been active for over 18 months. The County without admitting any fault, has pretty much eliminated and or removed the problems. Their attorney has drawn up a draft of a General Release, which we do not feel signing it would be in our best interest, it is to vague, and would be taking away our rights to complain again it the problems start again.
Seeing that the issues have been resolved, could we just Drop the Lawsuit?
And if we just Drop this Lawsuit, would all parties just be responsible for their attorneys fees and legal expenses? Or could the Defendants make us pay their attorneys fees and legal expenses.
In the Draft of General Release one of the items was that we shall be responsible for the payment of attorneys’ fees and legal expenses. Since this is coming from the Defendants Lawyer does that mean they expect us to pay theirs also.
2 Answers from Attorneys
Re: Dropping Lawsuit
If you drop the lawsuit by filing a Notice of Dismissal you may have to pay the County's costs such as filing fees and expert fees. Before you sign the release you must have it reviewed by a lawyer. The lawyer can explain the effect of the language you don't understand. If you enter a dismissal without a release you may have a very difficult time going to court again if the problem re-emerges. The county will show the judge you sued about this once before and if you don't have a settlement agreement you will find it very difficult to convince the judge the second suit is not merely a rehash of the case which was dismissed. In short, get a lawyer to look at these papers before you sign them.
Re: Dropping Lawsuit
Obviously, you have a lawyer. You should talk with her. Usually, in releases, each party agrees to be responsible for its own fees and costs, and not the other party's.
As to dismissing the lawsuit, that could get complicated. It depends on several factors, including the stage the lawsuit is at, whether the dismissal is with or without prejudice, whether the defendant could be considered the prevailing party, etc. This is something your lawyer should advise you on. Also consider that your lawyer should get paid if she is working on contingency.