United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
OPINION AND ORDER
LEON HOLMES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Jalal Ahmed moves this Court to enter a final judgment
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) as to
defendants Tom Tatum, II, and Marcus Vaden. This Court
dismissed Ahmed's claims against these defendants,
finding the claims barred by both sovereign and prosecutorial
immunity. Ahmed's claims against Warehouse Distributing
appellate jurisdiction usually extends only to cases in which
a district court has issued a final judgment. See 28
U.S.C. § 1291. The final judgment rule means “that
a party must ordinarily raise all claims of error in a single
appeal following final judgment on the merits.”
Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. v. Risjord,
449 U.S. 368, 374, 101 S.Ct. 669, 673, 66 L.Ed.2d 571 (1981).
Rule 54(b) provides the following exception:
Judgment on Multiple Claims or Involving Multiple
Parties. When an action presents more than one claim
for relief-whether as a claim, counterclaim, crossclaim, or
third-party claim-or when multiple parties are involved, the
court may direct entry of a final judgment as to one or more,
but fewer than all, claims or parties only if the court
expressly determines that there is no just reason for delay.
Otherwise, any order or other decision, however designated,
that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and
liabilities of fewer than all the parties does not end the
action as to any of the claims or parties and may be revised
at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all
the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities.
well-settled that Rule 54(b) certification should be
“used sparingly.” Alpine Glass, Inc. v.
Country Mut. Ins. Co., 792 F.3d 1017, 1020 (8th Cir.
2015). Before a district court grants such a motion, it must
make two findings. First, it must ensure that it is dealing
with a “final judgment.” Curtiss-Wright Corp.
v. Gen. Elec. Co., 446 U.S. 1, 7, 100 S.Ct. 1460, 1464,
64 L.Ed.2d 1 (1980). Second, it must “determine whether
there is any just reason for delay.” Id. at 8,
100 S.Ct. at 1464-65. “Certification should be granted
only if there exists some danger of hardship or injustice
through delay which would be alleviated by immediate
appeal.” Hayden v. McDonald, 719 F.2d 266, 268
(8th Cir. 1983) (quotation and citation omitted). This
inquiry involves consideration of “judicial
administrative interests as well as the equities
involved.” Curtiss-Wright, 446 U.S. at 8, 100
S.Ct. at 1465. Preventing piecemeal appeals is a weighty
courts may consider the following factors when making a Rule
(1) the relationship between the adjudicated and
unadjudicated claims; (2) the possibility that the need for
review might or might not be mooted by future developments in
the district court; (3) the possibility that the reviewing
court might be obliged to consider the same issue a second
time; (4) the presence or absence of a claim or counterclaim
which could result in setoff against the judgment sought to
be made final; (5) miscellaneous factors such as delay,
economic and solvency considerations, shortening the time of
trial, frivolity of competing claims, expense, and the like.
Depending upon the facts of the particular case, all or some
of the above factors may bear upon the propriety of the trial
court's discretion in certifying a judgment as final
under Rule 54(b).
Hayden, 719 F.2d at 269. The Eighth Circuit has also
instructed courts to consider the type of claim certified for
appeal. For example, the Eighth Circuit noted its reluctance
to adjudicate sovereign immunity claims unless absolutely
necessary. See U.S. Fire Ins. Co. v. Smith Barney, Harris
Upham & Co., 724 F.2d 650, 652-53 (8th Cir. 1983).
The Barney court expressed its “grave concern
of mootness”-adjudication of the remaining claims may
have made it unnecessary to resolve the immunity issue, which
the court described as important and complex.
the dismissal of these defendants is a final judgment within
the scope of Rule 54(b). See Curtiss-Wright, 446
U.S. at 7, 100 S.Ct. at 1464 (explaining that a “final
judgment” for Rule 54(b) purposes “must be a
‘judgment' in the sense that it is a decision upon
a cognizable claim for relief, and it must be
‘final' in the sense that it is ‘an ultimate
disposition of an individual claim entered in the course of a
multiple claims action'” (citation omitted)). Ahmed
says that certification should be granted to prevent
potentially having to relitigate the case and to resolve the
immunity issue. The factors mentioned above, however, weigh
against granting certification.
while a second trial would be administratively inefficient,
the federal policy to which Rule 54(b) serves as an exception
is concerned with the prevention of piecemeal appeals not
second trials. Second, entering a final judgment now on
Ahmed's claims against Tatum and Vaden so that he could
appeal would delay trial. Discovery would need to be stayed
so that, if Ahmed succeeds on appeal, all parties could
participate in discovery, which would mean that discovery
would not commence until after the appeal. If the Eighth
Circuit were to affirm the dismissal of Ahmed's claims
against Tatum and Vaden, all of this delay would be for
naught. All things considered, it is better to press forward
with this case now than to put it on hold for the length of
time an appeal would take. Third, Ahmed's desire to
resolve the immunity issues on appeal runs headlong into the
Eighth Circuit's expressed policy against deciding such
issues unnecessarily. Depending on the results of the
litigation here, it may be unnecessary for the Eighth Circuit
to resolve the immunity issues. If it becomes necessary for
the Eighth Circuit to resolve those issues, it can do so in a
single appeal with a single record for the entire case.
the other factors weigh so heavily in favor of certification
as to warrant the findings required by Rule 54(b). The motion
for certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b)
is DENIED. Document #33.