Future Sanctions May Issue to Parties Appealing Non-Final Judgments

The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure require parties to certify that the judgment being appealed is final. The Federal Circuit admonished future litigants that sanctions may result from appeals taken from non-final judgments.

In International Electronic Technology Corp. v. Hughes Aircraft, No. 06-1368 (Fed. Cir. January 26, 2007), the Federal Circuit dismissed for lack of jurisdiction an appeal that was lodged without entry of Final Judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b).

Federal appellate jurisdiction under Article III is premised on a “case and controversy” requirement. Here, the district court granted summary judgment of non-infringement in favor of the defendants, who did not dismiss the outstanding counterclaims before Plaintiff filed a notice of appeal. Those counterclaims remain extant. Thus, the appellant filed an appeal on a non-final judgment and the appellee had not objected. Writing for the panel, Judge Gajarsa stated:

The court takes umbrage at parties who have not carefully screened their cases to ascertain whether or not a judgment is final. It is incumbent on all parties to do so. The court should not be required or obligated to scrub every case to determine finality. At this time, the court shall not issue an order to show cause as to whether both parties should be cited or sanctioned for failing to determine finality before filing; however, the parties and other members of the bar are hereby placed on notice that the court shall in the future begin to cite counsel for failure to determine whether or not the appealed judgment is final. (emphasis added).

Given the court’s admonition, parties are reminded of the obligation to determine the finality of a judgment as a procedural predicate to any appeal that may be taken.

To discuss these topics further, please feel free to contact the author, Michael R. Dzwonczyk (mdzwonczyk@sughrue.com), at Sughrue Mion, PLLC in Washington DC, USA.

The information contained in this alert is provided for informational purposes only and does not represent legal advice. Neither the APLF nor the author intends to create an attorney client relationship by providing this information to you through this message.

 

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