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Media Alerts - Campbell-McCormick, Inc. v. Oliver -- Fourth Circuit
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November 27, 2017
  Campbell-McCormick, Inc. v. Oliver -- Fourth Circuit
Not All Opinions Are "Final Decisions" and Not All Rights Are "Important Enough": Fourth Circuit Dismisses Appeal for Want of Jurisdiction

Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, Appellate Jurisdiction

Issue Presented: Whether the appellate court had jurisdiction over a challenge to the district court's decision to sever and remand to state court certain claims filed against the defendant-appellant, if the district court retained jurisdiction over claims appellant filed against third parties in the same suit.

Brief Summary: The defendant-appellant Campbell-McCormick, Inc. ("CMC") appealed the decision of the district court to remand the plaintiff-appellee Wayne Oliver's claims to state court. As a preliminary matter, the Court of Appeals considered whether it had appellate jurisdiction to review the district court's decision. The jurisdictional questions before the court were whether the district court's remand order constituted a final decision within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and if not, whether the collateral order doctrine applied to establish appellate jurisdiction. In a published opinion, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that it lacked appellate jurisdiction because (1) the district court's remand order did not constitute a final decision within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and (2) the collateral order doctrine did not apply.

Extended Summary: Plaintiff Wayne Oliver filed a complaint in Maryland state court alleging asbestos exposure claims against multiple defendants, including Campbell-McCormick, Inc. ("CMC"). CMC filed a third-party complaint against several other entities, including General Electric Company ("GE"). GE removed the litigation into federal court in the District of Maryland, and Oliver subsequently moved to sever his claims and remand them to state court. The federal district court granted Oliver's motion to remand, but retained jurisdiction over CMC's third-party claims, which the court stayed. CMC appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit arguing that the district court had erroneously severed and remanded Oliver's claims. The Fourth Circuit did not consider the merits of the appeal because the court determined it did not have appellate jurisdiction.

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, the intermediate federal appellate courts have jurisdiction over appeals from all final decisions of the district courts of the United States. Citing a recent Supreme Court decision, the Fourth Circuit noted that "a final decision is one that ends the litigation on the merits and leaves nothing for the court to do but execute the judgment." Ray Haluch Gravel Co. v. Cent. Pension Fund of Int'l Union of Operating Eng'rs, 134 S. Ct. 773, 779 (2014). The Fourth Circuit concluded that because the district court retained jurisdiction over and stayed the third-party claims, the remand order issued by the district court did not constitute a final decision under § 1291.

The Fourth Circuit next recognized that the collateral order doctrine provides an alternate source of appellate jurisdiction under § 1291. To qualify for collateral order review, an order must "[1] conclusively determine the disputed question, [2] resolve an important issue completely separate from the merits of the action, and [3] be effectively unreviewable on appeal from a final judgment." Will v. Hallock, 546 U.S. 345, 349 (2006). The Fourth Circuit noted that the importance of the right asserted by the appellant has always been a significant part of the court's analysis, when considering the elements listed above. Examples of rights that the Supreme Court has deemed sufficiently important to merit collateral order review include: the right to avoidance of double jeopardy and the right of a public official to qualified immunity. In contrast, other rights have been deemed not sufficiently important to warrant application of the collateral order doctrine. These rights include things like a pretrial discovery order rejecting an attorney-client privilege claim. The Fourth Circuit concluded that the right asserted by CMC - the right to keep Oliver's claims in federal court - was "insufficiently important to give rise to collateral order jurisdiction," and therefore the collateral order doctrine was not satisfied. The court held it lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal and, therefore, dismissed it.

To read the full opinion, click here.

Panel: Judges King and Thacker, and District Judge Gibney

Argument Date: 09/13/2017

Date of Issued Opinion: 10/24/2017

Docket Number: 16-1895

Decided: Appeal dismissed by published opinion.

Case Alert Author: Taylor McAuliffe, Univ. of Maryland Carey School of Law

Counsel:
ARGUED: Steven Joseph Parrott, DEHAY & ELLISTON, L.L.P., Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellant. Ian Gill Thomas, BROWN GOULD KIELY LLP, Bethesda, Maryland; David Michael Sturm, TADDEOSTURM PLC, Richmond, Virginia, for Appellees. ON BRIEF: Patrick C. Smith, John C. Ruff, DEHAY & ELLISTON, L.L.P., Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellant. Daniel A. Brown, Matthew E. Kiely, BROWN GOULD KIELY LLP, Bethesda, Maryland, for Appellees Clifford Oliver and June R. Stearns. F. Ford Loker, MILES & STOCKBRIDGE, P.C., Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee Aurora Pump Company. Gerry H. Tostanoski, TYDINGS & ROSENBERG LLP, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee Atwood & Morrill Company. Malcolm S. Brisker, GOODELL, DEVRIES, LEECH & DANN, LLP, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellees Johnson Controls, Inc. and Viking Pump, Inc. Anthony B. Taddeo, Jr., TADDEOSTURM PLC, Richmond, Virginia, for Appellee Velan Valve Corp. Michael L. Haslup, Jonathan J. Huber, MILES & STOCKBRIDGE, P.C., Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee Ingersoll-Rand Company. Robert E. Scott, Jr., Richard J. Medoff, SEMMES, BOWEN & SEMMES, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee Marotta Controls, Inc.

Author of Opinion: Judge King

Case Alert Supervisor: Professor Renée Hutchins

    Posted By: Renee Hutchins @ 11/27/2017 01:18 PM     4th Circuit  

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