Muhammad v. Dempsey et al
MEMORANDUM re 25 MOTION for Judgment filed by Marc Antwain X. Rivers Muhammad, Sr. Signed by Honorable A. Richard Caputo on 2/22/12. (jam, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
MARC ANTWAIN X. RIVERS
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:11-CV-350
(MAGISTRATE JUDGE SMYSER)
CLEATRICE X. DEMPSEY, ASYIA
RIGSBYE, YORRII (SASKA) HARDING,
LUZERNE COUNTY COURT OF
COMMON PLEAS - ORPHANS’ COURT
DIVISION, THE SUPERIOR COURT OF
PENNSYLVANIA and THE SUPREME
COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA,
Presently before the Court is Plaintiff Marc Antwain x. Rivers Muhammad, Sr.’s
Motion for Judgment on Fewer Than All Claims or Parties. Because Mr. Muhammad fails
to meet his burden of showing there is no just reason for delay of review, his motion will be
Muhammad initiated this suit on February 23, 2010, asserting claims under 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1983, 1985(2)-(3), and 1986. On March 8, 2011, Magistrate Judge Smyser issued a
Report and Recommendation (“R & R”) in which he recommended dismissal of the
complaint. I adopted in part and rejected in part the R & R on October 14, 2011, dismissing
all claims except a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim against Defendants Cleatrice Dempsey and
Yorrii Saska Harding.
On November 15, 2011, Mr. Muhammad filed an appeal as to the October 14
dismissal of his claims. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals advised him that it would not
have jurisdiction over the appeal unless this Court directed the entry of a final judgment as
to the dismissed claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b). Mr. Muhammad
thus filed his motion for certification under Rule 54(b) on December 5, 2011. The motion
has been briefed and is ripe for disposition.
II. Legal Standard
Federal courts of appeals only have jurisdiction over appeals from “final decisions”
of federal district courts. 28 U.S.C. § 1291. “Ordinarily, an order which terminates fewer than
all claims, or claims against fewer than all parties, does not constitute a ‘final’ order for
purposes of appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1291.” Carter v. City of Phila., 181 F.3d 339, 343 (3d
Cir. 1999). Here, Plaintiffs wish to appeal the dismissal of their claims against Defendants
Luzerne County and Gregory Skrepenak, but that order was not final for appellate
jurisdiction purposes because it did not terminate all claims in the litigation. For this reason,
they request that the Court certify those claims as final pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Rule 54(b) creates an “exception to the finality rule.” Ortho-McNeil Pharm., Inc. v. Kali
Labs., Inc., Nos. 02-5707, 04-0886, 06-3533, 2007 WL 1814080, at *2 (D.N.J. Jun. 2,
2007). The rule provides that in actions involving multiple parties or more than one claim
for relief, “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.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b).
In order for Rule 54(b) to apply, a district court must find that “(1) there has been a
final judgment on the merits, i.e. an ultimate disposition on a cognizable claim for relief; and
(2) there is ‘no just reason for delay.’” Berckeley Inv. Grp., Ltd. v. Colkitt, 455 F.3d 195, 202
(3d Cir. 2006) (citing Allis-Chambers Corp. v. Phila. Elec. Co., 521 F.2d 360, 363 (3d Cir.
1975), overruled on other grounds by Curtiss-Wright Corp. v. Gen. Elec. Co., 446 U.S. 1,
6 (1980)). When determining whether there is a “just reason for delay,” a court must
balance “considerations of judicial administrative interests (preservation of the federal policy
against piecemeal appeals) and equities (justice to the litigants).” Carter, 181 F.3d at 346
(citing Curtiss-Wright, 446 U.S. at 8). The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has laid out several
factors for consideration:
(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 court; (3) the possibility that the reviewing court
might be obliged to consider the same issue a second time; (4) the presence
or absence of a claim or counterclaim which could result in set-off against the
judgment to be made final; (5) miscellaneous factors such as delay, economic
and solvency considerations, shortening the time of trial, frivolity of competing
claims, expense, and the like.
Id. at 203 (citing Allis-Chambers, 521 F.2d at 364). The moving party bears the burden of
demonstrating that a case is appropriate for certification under Rule 54(b). Anthuis v. Colt.
Indus. Operating Corp., 971 F.2d 999, 1003 (3d Cir. 1992).
Mr. Muhammad’s motion must be denied because he has failed to meet his
burden of showing there is no just reason for delay. Mr. Muhammad did not file a brief in
support of his motion, noting that the motion was “self-explanatory.” He did file a reply
brief in response to Ms. Harding’s opposition brief, but he primarily addressed the merits
of his litigation and not the Rule 54(b) standard. His only argument in favor of
certification is that it would expedite and lower the cost of the litigation. Given the strong
policy against piecemeal litigation, Mr. Muhammad’s proffered rationale is insufficient to
demonstrate that certification is appropriate here. The benefits of speedy litigation and
lowered costs will more likely be served by delaying appeal until the Court of Appeals
can address Mr. Muhammad’s entire case. Thus, the October 14, 2011 dismissal of Mr.
Muhammad’s claims will not be certified as a final judgment pursuant to Rule 54(b).
For the reasons stated above, Mr. Muhammad’s motion will be denied. An
appropriate order follows.
February 22, 2012
/s/ A. Richard Caputo
A. Richard Caputo
United States District 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?