Nolen Scott Ely, et al v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation and Gassearch Drilling Services Corproation
MEMORANDUM ORDER - Accordingly, for the foregoing reasons, Cabots motion to release the supersedeas bond 803 is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT the supersedeas bond filed on behalf of Cabot in the amount of $4,296,153, a copy of which was filed with the Court on May 4, 2016 (Doc. 778.) and approved by the Court on May 6, 2016 (Doc. 780.), is hereby RELEASED and is longer of effect. IT IS FUTHER ORDERED THAT the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, the surety on the bond, shall have no further liability in this matter and is discharged from any and all liability on the bond. Signed by Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson on April 26, 2017. (kjn)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
NOLEN SCOTT ELY, et al.,
CABOT OIL & GAS
CORPORATION, et al.,
Civil No. 3:09-CV-2284
(Magistrate Judge Carlson)
Now pending in this case is Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation’s motion to
release the supersedeas bond that had been ordered in this case following the jury’s
verdict in favor of the plaintiffs and Cabot’s motion to stay execution. Cabot
argues that the bond should be released because the Court has ruled on the posttrial motions that were pending in Cabot’s favor, thereby vacating the judgment
that the supersedeas bond had been securing. The Court agrees that with the
judgment for the plaintiffs having been vacated, there is neither need nor legal
justification for the supersedeas bond. Accordingly, the motion will be granted.
Following a nearly three-week trial in this action, on March 10, 2016, the
jury returned a verdict for the plaintiffs and awarded more than $4 million in
damages. (Doc. 745.) The Court entered judgment in favor of the plaintiffs the
same day. (Doc. 748.) On April 7, 2016, Cabot filed a post-trial motion pursuant
to Rules 50 and 59 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure seeking judgment as a
matter of law in its favor, a new trial, or remittitur of the jury’s award. (Doc. 756.)
Cabot also filed a motion for a stay of execution on the judgment and filed a
supersedeas bond on May 4, 2016. (Doc. 778.) The Court entered an order
granting this relief on May 6, 2016. (Docs. 779, 780.)
On March 31, 2017, the Court entered an order vacating the jury’s verdict
and granted Cabot a new trial. (Docs. 779, 780.) The Court further ordered that
the parties engage in settlement proceedings prior rescheduling the case for a new
trial. (Doc. 801.)
On April 5, 2017, Cabot sought the plaintiffs’ concurrence in releasing the
supersedeas bond and discharging the surety, but the plaintiffs refused to concur in
this request, asserting that the bond should remain in place while the plaintiffs took
an appeal of the Court’s ruling on the post-trial motion. Cabot then filed the
instant motion to release the supersedeas bond. (Doc. 803.) The plaintiffs have
filed a brief in opposition to the motion, to which Cabot has replied. (Docs. 807,
Pursuant to Rule 62(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a judgment
debtor may post a supersedeas bond to secure a stay of judgment pending
resolution of post-trial motions filed pursuant to Rules 50 and 59. Fed. R. Civ. P.
62(b). The purpose behind the rule is to preserve the status quo, while at the same
time protecting the prevailing party’s rights pending the outcome of post-trial
motions or appeal. Arlington Indus., Inc. v. Bridgeport Fittings, Inc., No. 01-485,
2010 WL 1329050, at *1 (M.D. Pa. Mar. 29, 2010); AMG Nat’l Trust Bank v. Ries,
Civ. A. No. 06-CV-4337, 2008 WL 2312351, at *1 (E.D. Pa. June 4, 2008 (“the
purpose of the supersedeas bond is to preserve the status quo during the pendency
of an appeal and to protect the winning party from the possibility of loss resulting
from the delay in execution.”).
Because a supersedeas bond is intended to protect the prevailing party’s
interest during the pendency of post-trial motions, it follows that courts should
release the bond when the outstanding judgment that the bond was intended to
protect no longer remains. Indeed, numerous courts have so held. See, e.g.,
Westerngeco LLC v. Ion Geophysical Corp., No. 4:09-CV-1827, 2016, WL
234347, at *6 (S.D. Tex. May 4, 2016); In re Apollo Grp., Inc. Securities Litig.,
CV-04-2147, 2009 WL 2169178 (D. Ariz. July 17, 2009) (releasing supersedeas
bond after the court vacated its prior judgment on post-trial motions); Am Fed.
Grp., Ltd v. Rothenberg, No. 91Civ.7860, 1998 WL 273034, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. 1998)
(“[T]he bond that was posted was intended to secure a judgment, pending appeal,
that has now been vacated. There presently is no judgment of liability against
Accordingly, there is no basis to require that the Bond be
maintained.”); Revlon, Inc. v. Carson Prods. Co., 647 F. Supp. 905, 906 (S.D.N.Y.
1986) (ordering the release of a supersedeas bond that had been posted by a
judgment creditor following a ruling in the judgment debtor’s favor on appeal, and
finding that the court lacked “power to maintain the bond simply because the
appellate decision may be reversed.”).
In this case, the judgment in favor of the plaintiffs has been vacated, and
there is no judgment that may be secured. The plaintiffs argue that it would be
premature to release the bond because they have noted their intention to appeal this
Court’s ruling on the post-trial motions, but the Court disagrees that this provides a
justification for ordering that the bond be maintained.
As Cabot correctly
observes, orders granting new trials – such as the order that this Court entered – are
not appealable prior to entry of a final judgment in the litigation. See Allied Chem.
Corp. v. Daiflon, Inc., 449 U.S. 33, 34 (1980) (“An order granting a new trial is
interlocutory in nature and therefore no immediately appealable.”); Bethel v.
McAllister Bros., 81 F.3d 376, 382 (3d Cir. 1992) (“an order granting a new trial
under Rule 59 is interlocutory and non-appealable.”). Since the plaintiffs are not
entitled to appeal this Court’s order vacating the judgment and ordering a new trial,
and because there is no judgment in this action that may be secured, it is
appropriate at this time to release the bond.1
Accordingly, for the foregoing reasons, Cabot’s motion to release the
supersedeas bond is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT the supersedeas bond filed on behalf of
Cabot in the amount of $4,296,153, a copy of which was filed with the Court on
May 4, 2016 (Doc. 778.) and approved by the Court on May 6, 2016 (Doc. 780.), is
hereby RELEASED and is longer of effect.
The plaintiffs seem to suggest that they have “the right to exhaust an appeal
before the bond is terminated.” (Doc. 807, at ¶¶7-8.) That is incorrect. The bond
in this case secured the judgment that had been entered, and was obtained in
support of Cabot’s motion to stay execution of the judgment “pending disposition
of the Post-Trial Motion,” and during the pendency of any appeal “if the Post-Trial
Motion is denied in whole or in part.” (Doc. 780, at 1.) The bond thus offered
security to ensure that the plaintiffs would be paid only if “Cabot does not, upon
the denial of the Post-Trial Motion . . . perfect an appeal or the appeal is dismissed,
and it does not pay the judgment amount . . . .” (Id., at 2.) The bond was thus
intended to protect the plaintiffs, as the prevailing parties, during the pendency of
the post-trial motion, and any potential appeal by Cabot. Since the post-trial
motion was ruled upon, and the judgment vacated, there is no judgment to secure.
Plaintiffs have offered no legal support for the notion that the bond should be
maintained while they pursue an interlocutory appeal that they are not entitled to
take in any event.
IT IS FUTHER ORDERED THAT the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company,
the surety on the bond, shall have no further liability in this matter and is
discharged from any and all liability on the bond.
So Ordered this 26th day of April, 2017.
/s/ Martin C. Carlson
Martin C. Carlson
United States Magistrate Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?