When a court dismisses a claim and the plaintiff is barred from bringing that claim in another court. Under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 41(b), the default rule is that a dismissal is considered an “adjudication on the merits,” and therefore with prejudice. Contrast with dismissal without prejudice, where the plaintiff may subsequently bring their claim in another court.
In William Link v. Wabash Railroad Co., the Supreme Court stated that, in the federal court system, the District Courts have discretion as to whether they should dismiss with or without prejudice. District Courts may dismiss with prejudice where the plaintiff acted irresponsibly or in bad faith, or where rehearing the claim would burden the court system. For example, in Soul Circus, Inc. v. Trevana Entertainment, Inc., a New York District Court ruled that “plaintiff’s failure to offer a persuasive reason for dismissal without prejudice, the vexatious nature of its actions, its attempt to avoid a prompt resolution in a forum no longer to its liking, and its failure to seek such a dismissal earlier all weigh in favor [of granting the defendants’ motion to dismiss with prejudice.]” However, in Semtek Int’l Inc. v. Lockheed Martin Corp., the Supreme Court clarified that when a plaintiff had their claim dismissed in federal court with prejudice because of federal procedural law, the plaintiff may actually bring that claim in a state court if the state procedural laws differ from the federal laws and would allow the claim. Namely, there, the federal court first dismissed the claim with prejudice because of the federal statute of limitations, but the Supreme Court allowed the claim to be brought in a state court where it did not exceed the state statute of limitations.
[Last updated in November of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]