Madrid v. Avalon Day Care (CA1 11/18/14)

The question here is whether the Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over a judgment stating that “no further matters remain pending” in the Superior Court, pursuant to Rule 54(c), even though matters remain pending in the Superior Court. If you can’t guess the result then you score no points and forfeit any you may have managed to get so far.

The trial court gave defendants summary judgment on some claims and granted their motion to compel arbitration of the rest. Plaintiff appealed. The judgment contained the Rule 54(c) language. (54(c), you no doubt recall, is the new companion to 54(b).) But an order compelling arbitration isn’t appealable and merely suspends the case. Somebody (the opinion says “Defendants”; at least it does at the moment, what it will say next week we don’t know – these things have a way of changing nowadays) argued that the court had jurisdiction anyway because the judgment contained the language. Without citing cases the court says that “A statement that a judgment is final pursuant to Rule 54(c) when, in fact, claims remain pending does not make a judgment final and appealable.” We agree that no citation should be necessary, though it’s a bit strange not to point out that the 54(b) cases came to the analogous conclusion long ago.

Speaking of which, the next section of the opinion says that this judgment had no 54(b) language so its not appealable under that rule, either. Plaintiff (is what the opinion says this time) asked the court to suspend the appeal so that she could amend the judgment (presumably so that she could appeal just the summary-judgment stuff); the court points out that that’s a possibility under 54(c) but not under 54(b).

The court had already dismissed the appeal by an earlier order; this is the follow-up opinion.

(link to opinion)