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Legal Memorandum: Court's Power to Reconsider Interlocutory Orders

Issue: What are the limits on a court’s authority to reconsider an interlocutory order?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Court's inherent powers; To reconsider an interlocutory order
Jurisdiction: Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 397 F.3d 1; 885 A.2d 595; 235 F.3d 1307; 643 F.2d 1109; 868 F. Supp. 643; 254 F.3d 882; 635 F.2d 1165; 158 F.3d 711
Cited Statutes: Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 60(b), Rule 59(e)
Date: 08/01/2006

The court is empowered to reconsider an interlocutory order.  In Fontaine v. Hess Oil Virgin Islands Corporation, No. 213/1998 (Terr. Ct. June 2, 2000), the Territorial Court discussed this very issue in the context of a discovery order.  With regard to the trial court’s inherent powers, it stated:

In characterizing this power, the Supreme Court has stated: “If an interlocutory decree be involved, a rehearing may be sought at any time before final decree, provided due diligence be employed and a revision be otherwise consonant with equity.”  John Simmons Co. v. Grier Brothers Co., 258 U.S. 82, 90-91, 42 S. Ct. 196, 199, 75 L. Ed. 354 (1922).

 

A trial [c]ourt’s inherent power to reconsider its interlocutory orders is also addressed in the Advisory Committee Notes to Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  In discussing the 1946 amendments to the Rule, which eliminated interlocutory orders from its scope, the Advisory Committee stated:

 

The addition of the qualifying word ‘final’ emphasizes the character of the judgments, orders or proceedings from which Rule 60(b) affords relief; and hence interlocutory judgments are not brought within the restrictions of the rule, but rather they are left subject to the complete power of the court rendering them to afford such relief from them as justice requires. (emphasis added and some citations omitted)

Numerous federal and state courts have applied this well-settled rule, allowing reconsideration of an interlocutory rule […]

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