Doctrine of Retraxit
The doctrine of retraxit finds it roots in the common law.
At common law, a "retraxit" was "an open and voluntary renunciation of the suit in open court." (Ghiringhelli v. Riboni (1950) 95 Cal. App. 2d 503, 506 213 P.2d 17; see also Westbay v. Gray (1897) 116 Cal. 660, 666 48 P. 800.)
The primary features of a common law retraxit were that it was made by the plaintiff in person and in open court. (Roybal v. University Ford (1989) 207 Cal. App. 3d 1080, 1086 255 Cal. Rptr. 469.)
A dismissal with prejudice is the modern name for a common law retraxit. (Robinson v. Hiles (1953) 119 Cal. App. 2d 666, 672 260 P.2d 194; Lama v. Comcast Cablevision (1993) 14 Cal. App. 4th 59, 64 17 Cal. Rptr. 2d 224.)
A retraxit is a judgment on the merits preventing a subsequent action on the dismissed claim. It "has always been deemed a judgment on the merits against the plaintiff, estopping him from subsequently maintaining an action for the cause renounced. . . . It has been frequently held that a judgment or order dismissing an action, based upon a stipulation or agreement of the parties settling and adjusting the claim or cause of action in suit and providing for the dismissal is a bar to another action for the same cause." (2 Freeman, Law of Judgments (5th ed. 1925) the Judgment as an Estoppel, 757, pp. 1595-1596.)
"A dismissal with prejudice is a retraxit constituting a decision on the merits invoking the principles of res judicata." (Torrey Pines Bank v. Superior Court (1989) 216 Cal. App. 3d 813, 822 265 Cal. Rptr. 217.)