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Legal Memorandum: Justification of a Final Order

Issue: Under federal law in the Third Circuit (Virgin Islands), under what circumstances may an order that fails to address all the parties’ pending claims be considered a final order?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Denial of a motion for reconsideration; Grant of rule 54(b) certification; No just reason for delay
Jurisdiction: Federal, Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 521 F.2d 360; 168 F. Supp. 2d 277; 942 F. Supp. 996; 131 F.3d 108
Cited Statutes: 8 U.S.C. § 1291; Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b); 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b)
Date: 03/01/2005

Although generally an order that terminates fewer than all claims does not constitute a final order for purposes of appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291, Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b) allows for an appeal of a single adjudicated claim even while other claims remain pending.  Commissariat à L’Énergie Atomique, 293 F. Supp. 2d at 433 (denying motion for reconsideration and granting Rule 54(b) certification).  Rule 54(b) provides in pertinent part:

When more than one claim for relief is presented in a action, whether as a claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim, or when multiple parties are involved, the court may direct the entry of a final judgment as to one or more but fewer than all of the claims or parties only upon an express determination that there is no just reason for delay and upon an express direction for the entry of judgment.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b).  As the explicit language of the Rule provides, the trial court that makes a Rule 54(b) certification must expressly state “‘that there is no just reason for delay.'”  Berckeley Inv. Group, Ltd. v. Colkitt, 259 F.3d 135, 141 (3d Cir. 2001).[1]  Further the court should consider and discuss its consideration of other factors, “including:

(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 courts; (3) the possibility that the reviewing court might be obliged to […]

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