United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
O. RICE, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
THE COURT is Defendants Rebecca Harris and Kristin
Humphrey's Motion for Reconsideration. ECF No. 171.
Plaintiffs oppose the motion. ECF No. 172.
Defendants seek to have the Court enter partial judgment so
the Court's order is appealable, or in the alternative
modify the order to require Plaintiffs' counsel to hold
all funds transferred from trust accounts and all proceeds
from the sale of any trust asset in counsel's trust
account pending final resolution of all remaining claims. ECF
54(b) allows courts to “direct entry of a final
judgment as to one or more, but fewer than all, claims or
parties only if the court expressly determines that there is
no just reason for delay.” “[I]n deciding whether
there are no just reasons to delay the appeal of individual
final judgments [. . .], a district court must take into
account judicial administrative interests as well as the
equities involved. Consideration of the former is necessary
to assure that application of the Rule effectively
‘preserves the historic federal policy against
piecemeal appeals.'” Curtiss-Wright Corp. v.
Gen. Elec. Co., 446 U.S. 1, 8 (1980) (citation omitted).
The district court evaluates “such factors as the
interrelationship of the claims so as to prevent piecemeal
appeals in cases which should be reviewed only as single
units.” Id. at 10. “[O]nce such
juridical concerns have been met, the discretionary judgment
of the district court should be given substantial deference,
for that court is ‘the one most likely to be familiar
with the case and with any justifiable reasons for
delay.'” Id. (citation omitted).
54(b) has a proper place. The Rule was adopted
“specifically to avoid the possible injustice of
delaying judgment on a distinctly separate claim pending
adjudication of the entire case. . . . The Rule thus aimed to
augment, not diminish, appeal opportunity.” Jewel
v. Nat'l Sec. Agency, 810 F.3d 622, 628 (9th Cir.
2015) (internal brackets omitted, citing Gelboim v. Bank
of Am. Corp., 135 S.Ct. 897, 902-03 (2015)). The Ninth
Circuit first asks “whether the certified order is
sufficiently divisible from the other claims such that the
“case would [not] inevitably come back to this court on
the same set of facts.” Id. (citation
omitted). The equitable analysis ordinarily “is left to
the sound judicial discretion of the district court to
determine the ‘appropriate time' when each final
decision in a multiple claims action is ready for
appeal.” Id. (citation omitted). Finally, the
appeal must meet the “no just reason for delay”
prong of Rule 54(b). Id. at 630. An appeal should
not be certified if interlocutory review is more likely to
cause additional delay than it is to ameliorate delay
remaining dispute before the Court is simple: Defendants have
conceded that the Gabors are entitled to the remaining funds
and assets withdrawn from the Blue Mountain Trust; counsel
for Defendants further represented to the Court that Harris
and Humphrey have offered to make the Gabors the trustees for
the related trusts in order to transfer the assets to the
Gabors. However, Defendants argue they should not be held
liable for any deficiency in value, if any, but the
Blue Mountain Trust is invalid and the Court has so ruled.
The Trust no longer exists. Without submission of any
countervailing expert evidence, Counsel for Defendants
disagreed with this ruling, but conceded the Gabors were
entitled to the money deposited in the Blue Mountain Trust,
request for a partial judgment would result in piecemeal
appeals and cause unwarranted additional delay. Accordingly,
both the legal and equitable considerations weigh against
piecemeal resolution of the claims involved here.
Court takes notice that Plaintiffs complain that the
Defendants are already in violation of the Court's Order,
ECF No. 170.
IT IS ORDERED:
Defendants Rebecca Harris and Kristin Humphrey's Motion
for Reconsideration, ECF No. 171, is DENIED.
Plaintiffs shall comply with the Court's Order at ECF No.
170 or ...