WIDI v. MCNEIL et al
AMENDED RULE 54(b) CERTIFICATION ORDER ON COUNT XVIII By JUDGE JOHN A. WOODCOCK, JR. (ccs)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MAINE
DAVID J. WIDI, JR.,
PAUL MCNEIL, et al.,
AMENDED RULE 54(b) CERTIFICATION ORDER ON COUNT XVIII
On July 19, 2017, the Court issued an order on David J. Widi, Jr.’s motion for
reconsideration and the Executive Office of the United States Attorneys’ motion for
summary judgment on Count XVIII of Mr. Widi’s Second Amended Complaint. Order
on Mot. for Recons. and Renewed Mot. for Summ. J. (ECF No. 465).
In the Order,
the Court concluded that judgment should issue in part on behalf of David J. Widi,
Jr. and in part on behalf of the Executive Office of the United States Attorneys. Id.
at 8. On July 21, 2017, the Court issued a Rule 54(b) Certification Order on Count
XVIII. (ECF No. 466). On July 31, 2017, the Court amended its July 19, 2017 Order.1
Amended Order on Mot. for Recons. and Renewed Mot. for Summ. J. (ECF No. 475).
The Court now re-issues a final judgment order pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 54(b) on Count XVIII of the Second Amended Complaint.
It is July 19, 2017 Order, the Court erroneously stated that Mr. Widi did not respond to the
Government’s filing on its renewed motion for summary judgment on the issue of whether the
Government was entitled to withhold EOSUA Document 35. Order on Mot. for Recons. and Renewed
Mot. for Summ. J. at 5 (ECF No. 465). On July 28, 2017, Mr. Widi notified the Clerk’s Office that he
had, in fact, responded. See Reply to EOUSA’s Resp. to Order on Renewed Mot. for Summ. J. (ECF No.
451). The Court amended its original Order to incorporate Mr. Widi’s response. The Court determined,
however, that Mr. Widi’s response did not alter the Court’s conclusions contained in its original Order.
Rule 54(b) provides in part:
When an action presents more than one claim for relief—whether as a
claim, counterclaim, crossclaim, or third-party claim—or when multiple
parties are involved, the court may 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.
To order the entry of a final judgment under Rule 54(b), a court must first
“consider whether the entire case as a whole and the particular disposition that has
been made and for which the entry of a judgment is sought fall within the scope of
the rule.” 10 CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT, ARTHUR R. MILLER & MARY KAY KANE, FEDERAL
PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE § 2655 (2014 ed.). The “general requirements are that the
case include either multiple claims, multiple parties, or both and that either one or
more but fewer than all the claims have been finally decided or that all the rights and
liabilities of at least one party have been adjudicated.” Id. Second, a court must
“expressly find that there is no just reason to delay an appeal.” Id.
The First Circuit has illuminated the requirements for a Rule 54(b)
certification. To certify a judgment pursuant to Rule 54(b), a district court must find
(1) that the ruling is final and (2) that there is no just reason for delay. Nystedt v.
Nigro, 700 F.3d 25, 29–30 (1st Cir. 2012). Finality “requires that a judgment ‘dispose
of all the rights and liabilities of at least one party as to at least one claim.’” LeeBarnes v. Puerto Ven Quarry Corp., 513 F.3d 20, 24 (1st Cir. 2008) (quoting State
Street Bank & Trust Co. v. Brockrim, Inc., 87 F.3d 1487, 1489 (1st Cir. 1996))
(emphasis in Lee-Barnes); see also Maldonado-Denis v. Castillo-Rodriguez, 23 F.3d
576, 580 (1st Cir. 1994) (“[T]he ruling underlying the proposed judgment must itself
be final in the sense that it disposes completely either of all claims against a given
defendant or of some discrete substantive claim or set of claims against the
defendants generally”) (citing Spiegel v. Trustees of Tufts College, 843 F.2d 38, 43 (1st
Cir. 1988)). After the court determines finality, it turns to whether there is no just
reason for delay by assessing “(1) any interrelationship or overlap among the various
legal and factual issues involved in the dismissed and the pending claims, and (2) any
equities and efficiencies implicated by the requested piecemeal review.”
Francais Int’l, S.A. v. Bio-Vita, Ltd., 78 F.3d 698, 706 (1st Cir. 1996) (citing Kersey v.
Dennison Mfg. Co., 3 F.3d 482, 487 (1st Cir. 1993)). Finally, if a district court certifies
a judgment pursuant to Rule 54(b), “it should not only make that explicit
determination but should also make specific findings and set forth its reasoning.”
Quinn v. City of Boston, 325 F.3d 18, 26 (1st Cir. 2003) (citing Spiegel, 843 F.2d at
On November 18, 2013, Mr. Widi filed a second amended complaint consisting
of sixty-nine pages and eighteen counts. Second Am. Compl. (ECF No. 191). In the
main, the second amended complaint makes a variety of claims against law
enforcement officers who were involved in the investigation and prosecution of federal
charges against Mr. Widi. Id. at 1–58. Mr. Widi elected to include in the second
amended complaint a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)/Privacy Act (PA) count. Id.
The party defendants to Count XVIII are (1) the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), (2) the Executive Office of the United
States Attorneys (EOUSA), and (3) the Office of Information Policy (OIP). Id. In the
Court’s view, its July 31, 2017 Order as amended is a final order for purposes of the
FOIA/PA claims in Count XVIII as against the ATF, EOUSA and OIP.
Order resolves in their entirety “all the rights and liabilities of at least one party as
to at least one claim.” Lee-Barnes, 513 F.3d at 24.
Nor is there any direct “interrelationship or overlap” between the FOIA/PA
claims and the rest of the second amended complaint. Credit Francais, 78 F.3d at
706. Although some of the FOIA/PA requests may have some bearing on the other
pending counts, having addressed the remaining counts in multitudinous motions
over the last five years, the Court is aware of no direct relationship between the
seventeen other remaining counts and the FOIA/PA count, and Mr. Widi has not
asserted that the FOIA/PA information would be directly relevant to his other claims.
Furthermore, Mr. Widi could have initiated an entirely separate legal action setting
forth his FOIA/PA claims, and if he had done so, the final order on the FOIA/PA
claims would have been subject to appeal.
The Court views the “equities and efficiencies” as being in favor of Rule 54(b)
certification. Id. at 706. It is true that there is a disinclination to grant piecemeal
appellate review of a case, which is the factor that caused the Court to deny Rule
54(b) certification in a separate motion involving one of the other counts. See Order
Den. Defs.’ Clark and Lyon’s Mot. for Final J. (ECF No. 361). However, here, because
the count is a stand-alone claim and because the remaining counts are barely inching
toward finality, the Court can see no reason to delay the final resolution of Mr. Widi’s
In accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), the Court hereby
CERTIFIES that its Amended Order dated July 31, 2017 (ECF No. 475) is a FINAL
JUDGMENT of the Court and therefore subject to immediate appeal, if the parties
elect to appeal, to the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
/s/ John A. Woodcock, Jr.
JOHN A. WOODCOCK, JR.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 31st day of July, 2017
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