United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ZAINEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is a Motion for Partial Certification
Pursuant to FRCP 54(b) (Rec. Doc. 29) filed by
Plaintiff Dr. Bahram Zamanian. Defendant Jefferson Parish
Hospital Service District No. 2 (hereinafter referred to as
“East Jefferson General Hospital” or
“EJGH”) opposes this motion. (Rec. Doc. 30). The
motion, set for submission on November 15, 2017, is before
the Court on the briefs without oral argument. This matter is
set as a jury trial beginning on May 14, 2018 at 8:30 a.m.
Having considered the motion and memoranda of counsel, the
record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that the
Plaintiff's motion should be DENIED for
the reasons set forth below.
August 14, 2017, this Court issued an Order (Rec.
Doc. 24) dismissing Plaintiff's deprivation of
due process claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the
Louisiana Constitution. The instant motion asks this Court to
enter final judgment of the dismissed claims pursuant to Rule
54(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Dr. Zamanian
seeks to have this Court enter partial final judgment so that
he may take an immediate appeal to the United States Court of
Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. (Rec. Doc. 29-1). In support
of his motion, Dr. Zamanian advances one argument in favor of
his assertion that the Court's August 14, 2017 Order
should be entered as a final judgment under Rule 54(b). Dr.
Zamanian argues that granting the opportunity to take an
immediate appeal of his dismissed claims would result in
sound judicial economy. (Rec. Doc. 29-1, pp. 3-4). Notably,
this argument stems on the speculation that if this matter
would proceed to trial, it would proceed as a bench trial
rather than a jury trial. Id. Dr. Zamanian argues
that counsel for EJGH suggested the remaining claims will be
precluded from being tried by a jury pursuant to La. R.S.
Dr. Zamanian uses an attenuated line of reasoning to argue
that certifying his dismissed claims as a final judgment
would be in the best interest of judicial economy. First, Dr.
Zamanian states that if the Court denies the instant motion,
it is likely the remaining claims would proceed to a bench
trial. After the resolution of the bench trial and regardless
of the Court's decision in that trial, Dr. Zamanian would
take an appeal to review the Court's prior dismissal of
his due process claims. Dr. Zamanian further speculates that
if the Fifth Circuit were to find in his favor, his due
process claims would be sent back to this Court to proceed
before a jury. Additionally, if Dr. Zamanian is dissatisfied
with the ruling from the prior bench trial, he would also
seek a new trial of his remaining claims before the same
jury. (Rec. Doc. 29-1, p. 4). Therefore, by certifying the
dismissed claims as final judgment under Rule 54(b), the
Court could avoid unnecessary multiple trials. (Rec. Doc.
29-1, p. 3). The argument further reasons that if this Court
were to grant the instant motion to certify, the viability
and availability of a jury trial could be resolved before any
part of this matter proceeds to trial. Id. at p. 4.
opposes this motion. The crux of EJGH's argument is that
Dr. Zamanian's argument is speculative. EJGH advances a
second argument contending that Dr. Zamanian's instant
motion is untimely under Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure and Rule 4(a)(1)(A) of the Federal Rules of
Appellate Procedure. (Rec. Doc. 30, pp. 3-4).
59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that
“[a] motion to alter or amend a judgment must be filed
no later than 28 days after the entry of the judgment.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). This Court's previous Order
dismissing Dr. Zamanian's due process claims was entered
on August 14, 2017 and the instant motion to amend that Order
was filed 68 days later on October 24, 2017. Moreover, Rule
4(a)(1)(A) requires that the notice of appeal be filed with
the district clerk within 30 days after entry of the judgment
or the order appealed from. Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(1)(A). EJGH
argues that even if the Court's ruling had been certified
as a partial final judgment, any appeal would be untimely
under Rule 4(a)(1)(A).
action involving more than one claim for relief, or when
multiple parties are involved, Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 54(b) permits a district court 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
54(b). Accordingly, the judgment must concern a separate and
distinct claim (or claims), and it must in fact be a final
determination of that claim (or claims). See N.W. Enter.
Inc. v. City of Houston, 352 F.3d 162, 179 (5th Cir.
2003). The decision whether or not to make a Rule 54(b)
determination is “left to the sound judicial discretion
of the trial court.” Brown v. Mississippi Valley
State University, 311 F.3d 328, 332 (5th Cir. 2002),
citing Curtiss-Wright Corp. v. General Elec. Co.,
446 U.S. 1, 8 (1980).
Law and Analysis
argument that Plaintiff's motion should be denied as
being untimely fails as a matter of law. Defendants argue
that Plaintiff's motion should be considered a motion to
alter or amend a judgment under Rule 59(e), rather than a
motion for certification as a final judgment under Rule
54(b). (Rec. Doc. 30, p. 3). Rule 59(e) allows a party to
move to alter or amend a judgment within 28 days of its
entry. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e). A motion to reconsider a judgment
is treated as a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend that
judgment, but when the motion concerns only an interlocutory
ruling, as it does here, the appropriate vehicle for making
the motion is a Rule 54(b) motion. Livingston Downs
Racing Ass'n Inc. v. Jefferson Downs Corp., 256
F.Supp.2d 471 (M.D. La. 2002) (citing Edward H. Bohlin
Co. v. Banning Co., 6 F.3d 350 (5th Cir. 1993)).
to Defendants' argument, Rule 54(b) does not contain any
kind of time limit. Id. at 475. Rather, the only
time limit on a Rule 54(b) motion to certify is that if the
court issues an order that expressly states that there is no
just reason for delay, the order becomes a judgment that is
final and appealable. Id. Rule 54(b) provides:
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.
Otherwise, any order or other decision, however designated,
that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and
liabilities of fewer than all the parties does not end the
action as to any of the claims or ...