HOW TO WASTE A TRIP TO THE COA

March 21, 2012 § 3 Comments

We’ve talked here before about the futility of filing an appeal from a judgment that disposes of fewer than all of the issues that were pled and tried, and does not include an MRCP 54(b) certification. 

The latest manifestation of the principle appeared in the COA case of Williams v. Claiborne County School District, et al., decided February 21, 2012. In that case, the school district complained in its cross-appeal that the trial judge erred by not granting it the $120,000 in damages it had asked for in its pleadings. Indeed, the chancellor did not even address the issue of damages.

Oops. On its own initiative (after having been alerted by the cross-appeal), the COA dismissed both the appeal and the cross-appeal because the judgment disposed of fewer than all the issues, and did not include an MRCP 54(b) certification by the judge, meaning that it was not a final, appealable judgment.

Another wasted trip to the COA. Think of those long, lonesome, solitary (albeit billable) hours working on briefs and record excerpts, on reply and rebuttal briefs, on research. Think of what the clients will say when they get the bills for all that time spent to produce nothing but a return to the starting line. Ouch.

As I’ve said before, if you feel that the judge has not addressed an issue so that you don’t have a final judgment, or if you’re in doubt about it, file a timely MRCP 59 or 60 motion and raise the point so that the judge can either (a) address the missing issue, or (b) schedule a trial on the missing point, or (c) amend the judgment to add a 54(b) certification.

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