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Another lessson on the form of an appealable judgment

A recent decision by the Louisiana Third Circuit provides another lesson on the proper form of a final, appealable judgment. The judgment decreed:

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED, that the Lafayette Parish School Board’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is granted.

The plaintiff appealed, but the Third Circuit dismissed her appeal on grounds that it “lacks appropriate decretal language” necessary for a final, appealable judgment. Thomas v. Lafayette Parish School Sys., 13-91 (La. App. 3 Cir. 3/6/13), 2013 WL 81205.

What language should a judgment contain to be appealable? The Thomas court explained:

A final appealable judgment must contain decretal language, and it must name the party in favor of whom the ruling is ordered, the party against whom the ruling is ordered, and the relief that is granted or denied.

The judgment in Thomas lacked this language. And since, on its face, it granted partial summary judgment, the Thomas court found it ambiguous, as it did not clearly state whether it disposed of all or only a portion of the plaintiff’s claims.

Comments

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Robert Hill

Hi Ray,

Does Louisiana have a way for the losing party to ask the trial court to amend the order to add the magic language making it is final, appealable judgment?

In South Carolina, a party can make a timely Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend for the trial court to clarify that the order is appealable (assuming that is is appealable). A timely motion tolls the time to appeal until the motion is ruled on.

Wondering if Louisiana has a similar rule.

And please tell Don Massey that Robert Hill said hey.

Ray

Yes, as a matter of fact. A party can file a motion to have an otherwise non-final judgment certified for immediate appeal under La. Code Civ. P. art. 1915(B) (our equivalent to Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b). And there is no time limit on the filing of the motion. See Fraternal Order of Police v. City of New Orleans, 831 So. 2d 897 (La. 2002).

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