• February 3, 2010

Common hypothetical: one has a lawsuit against multiple defendants, one of whom is the “deep pocket” or most likely source of recovery.  That defendant moves for judgment as a matter of law and wins (on a summary judgment motion, for example).  Plaintiffs, defendants, and even the trial court might all agree that plaintiffs’ case is effectively gutted and agree that an immediate appeal would expedite full and final resolution of the case.

Not so fast, the Eighth Circuit ruled today.  A “piece-meal” appeal is the exception and not the rule.  Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) provides for it, but the trial court must do more than simply intone the magic words, “There being no just reason for delay…,” in certifying a partial judgment as final for purposes of appeal.

More, and the Eighth Circuit’s short opinion after the break.

If the district court’s order ‘does not reflect an evaluation of such factors as the interrelationship of the claims so as to prevent piecemeal appeals, or show a familiar[ity] with the case and with any justifiable reasons for delay, we scrutinize its decision carefully.’

Clark v Baka Et Al 8th Cir 2-2-10

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