United States District Court, D. Nebraska
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. Gerrard Chief United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on motions filed by KVC Behavioral
Healthcare Nebraska, Inc. (filing 576) and Alegent Creighton
Clinic and Shashi Bhatia (filing 579) to certify the
Court's orders dismissing the plaintiffs claims against
them as final judgments pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b). Those
motions will be denied.
54(b) provides, in relevant part, that an order adjudicating
the rights and liabilities of one or more, but fewer than all
of the parties, does not end the action as to those
parties-unless the Court directs entry of a final judgment
after expressly determining that there is no just reason for
delay. But Rule 54(b) is to be used sparingly. Jones v.
W. Plains Bank & Tr. Co., 813 F.3d 700, 702 (8th
Cir. 2015). Certification should be granted only if there
exists some danger of hardship or injustice through delay
which would be alleviated by immediate appeal. Id.
at 703. Factors that should be considered in determining
whether such danger of hardship or injustice exists include:
(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; [and] (5) miscellaneous factors such as delay,
economic and solvency considerations, shortening the time of
trial, frivolity of competing claims, expense, and the like.
Downing v. Riceland Foods, Inc., 810 F.3d 580,
585-86 (8th Cir. 2016).
the movants suggest that they will be subjected to hardship
because the case could still take a long time, and they might
be prejudiced by that delay if the claims against them were
ultimately revived, by this Court or on appeal. See
filing 577 at 12-14. But that presents one of the fundamental
problems with their motion: Rule 54(b) was intended to
permit a party to take an interlocutory appeal, not
force an opposing party to take an interlocutory
appeal. See Nix v. Sword, 168 F.3d 490 (6th Cir.
1998); Stewart v. Gates, 277 F.R.D. 33, 36-37
(D.D.C. 2011); Fisher v. Pelstring, 817 F.Supp.2d
791, 829 (D.S.C. 2011); Northway, Inc. v. TSC Indus.,
Inc., 361 F.Supp. 108, 117 (N.D. 111. 1973). Compelling
the plaintiff to take an interlocutory appeal now might serve
the movants' interests, but could only further delay the
proceedings as to the remaining defendants by diverting the
plaintiffs attention from this Court. See Fisher,
817 F.Supp.2d at 829; Meade v. Parsley, No.
2:09-CV-388, 2010 WL 3432821, at *1 (S.D. W.Va. Aug. 31,
2010); Northway, 361 F.Supp. at 117. And it would
effectively invert the purpose of Rule 54(b) from one of
enhancing the appellate rights of a losing party in
circumstances when delay of an appeal would cause undue
hardship or possible injustice, to one in which a prevailing
party could prematurely force an appeal of part of a case by
a losing party, who must comply with timeliness requirements
for exercising appellate rights.
Stewart, 211 F.R.D. at 36.
it would squarely implicate the interest in preventing
piecemeal appeals. Interlocutory appeals are generally
disfavored, and only a special warrants an immediate appeal
from a partial resolution of the lawsuit. Dean v. Cty. of
Gage, 807 F.3d 931, 937-38 (8th Cir. 2015). The Court
must evaluate the interrelationship of the claims so as to
prevent piecemeal appeals in cases which should be reviewed
only as single units. See Id. at 938. And here, the
claims are clearly interrelated.
arguing to the contrary, the movants insist that factually,
the claims against them are distinct from the claims against
other defendants. See filing 577 at 10-12. But that
argument doesn't survive even a cursory review of the
orders dismissing them. Alegent and Bhatia were dismissed by
an order that applied essentially the same reasoning to three
sets of defendants. See filing 486. KVC got its own
order, but the issues that were decided in its favor were
essentially the same issues that were discussed with respect
to nearly all of the other defendants. See filing
490; see generally filing 568. And factually,
although there are distinct allegations as to each of the
moving defendants, those allegations are presented in a
context that intertwines them with the allegations against
each of the other defendants.
put, "[w]here each claim requires familiarity with the
same nucleus of facts and involves analysis of similar legal
issues, the claims should be resolved in a single
appeal." Id. (quotation omitted). The
relationship here between the adjudicated and unadjudicated
claims is obvious, as is the probability-if not
certainty-that some of the same issues would be presented
more than once to a reviewing court. And that's all on
top of the inefficiency and unfairness of forcing the
plaintiff, against her will, to pursue appeals at the same
time that proceedings in this Court move forward.
movants are rightly concerned with the lack of progress made
in this case to this point. See filing 577. But the
remedy they propose for them would benefit them at
the expense of the plaintiff and the other defendants, and
would generate a substantial risk of delaying case
progression even further. This is not a case in which
certification of a final judgment is warranted.
KVC's motion for entry of final judgment ...