In the United States, a nonsuit is a motion taken by the plaintiff to release one or more of the defendants from liability. So, for example, if a plaintiff wishes to give up on the lawsuit, he or she can file a nonsuit as to all defendants with the court, and all proceedings will stop. Alternately, if a plaintiff settles with one of several defendants, he or she can file a nonsuit as to that one. A nonsuit is a right of the plaintiff, but it may be prevented if the defendant has pleaded for affirmative relief.
The law in the United States was established as early as 1828 when the Supreme Court ruled:
- A nonsuit, may not be ordered by the Court, upon the application of the defendant, and cannot as we have had occasion to decide, at the present term, be ordered in any case without the consent and acquiescence of the plaintiff
De Wolf v. Rabaud 26 U.S. 476, 497 (U.S. 1828).
In the U.S. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a nonsuit is termed a "voluntary dismissal."
In law, a non-suit is a judgment against a plaintiff in a civil action for failure to prosecute the case or to introduce sufficient evidence. This occurs at trial, usually after the plaintiff has closed his or her case, but before the defendant has adduced evidence. A nonsuit is typically sought on application by the defendant.
In a jury trial, a closely related concept to the non-suit is a directed verdict.