What does Dimissal with prejudice mean?

A "dismissal with prejudice" means you cannot bring an action again if it is based on the same set of facts. ("Bring an action" is the technical term for "sue".) The "with prejudice" phrase means that your action is dismissed--thrown out--gone, and you may not refile it. This contrasts with a "dismissal without prejudice," where, though your action has been dismissed, you may bring another action based on the same set of facts. Usually, dismissals without prejudice occur when there is some technical problem with the action, but which the court still believes has merit.

Examples of technical problems which might lead to a dismissal with prejudice include:

  1. Your failure to allege, in writing, certain facts without which the claim cannot go forward;
  2. Your failure to properly "serve" the defendant with process; in other words, you have not had a neutral party hand the proper documents to the defendant in the proper way;
  3. You have not filed your case in the correct court.

A "dismissal with prejudice" does not necessarily mean that your action is or was without merit. For example, if you have filed your action past the statute of limitations (usually three (3) years), no matter how much you deserve relief, the court will refuse to hear your case. This is to prevent you and other plaintiffs from "resting on your rights"; courts want actions brought right away so the witnesses' memories are fresh and also to fulfill the Fifth Amendment's requirement that trials be "speedy."