Sunday, March 11, 2007

Thompson v. Beneficial Mortgage Co. of Maryland (Maryland U.S.D.C.) (Not Approved for Publication)

Signed March 9, 2007 -- Memorandum Opinion by Judge Deborah K. Chasanow. (Not approved for publication.)

Thompson filed this action in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County asserting claims under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and several state tort claims. Her action was removed to this Court which subsequently, by Order dated July 18, 2006, dismissed all of Thompson's federal claims without prejudice and some of her state claims. As a result of Thompson's clarification that she would not replead her federal Fair Credit Reporting Act claim, the Court exercised its discretion to decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over her remaining claims, all of which arose under state law. Upon remand of Thompson's remaining state claims, one of the defendants, Provident Bank of Maryland, requested entry of final judgment in its favor pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b), which provides:

"When more than one claim for relief is presented in an action, whether as a claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim, or when multiple parties are involved, the court may direct the entry of a final judgment as to one or more but fewer than all of the claims or parties only upon an express determination that there is no just reason for delay and upon an express direction for the entry of judgment. In the absence of such determination and direction, any order or other form of decision, however designated, which adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties shall not terminate the action as to any of the claims or parties, and the order or other form of decision is subject to revision at any time before the entry of judgment adjudicating all the claims and the rights and liabilities of all the parties."

Accordingly, the Order dismissing Thompson's claim against Provident was not final when that Order was entered, and, in fact, the Court subsequently denied a motion by Thompson for reconsideration of that ruling.

An interlocutory order becomes final, absent an explicit certification to the contrary, only when all claims against all parties are resolved. In the context of a case remanded to a state court, the remand order, regardless of whether it is itself final and subject to appeal, resolves all matters before the court as to all parties, and renders any previous interlocutory orders final and subject to appeal. Provident's request for entry of final judgment is, therefore, moot under this doctrine. The Court's July 2006 Order decided the merits of Thompson's claim against Provident and, by dismissing this claim, decided the parties' substantive rights. As a result, the Court's remand Order rendered the prior interlocutory Orders final and started the time for any appeal as to those interlocutory Orders pursuant to Fed.R.App.P. 4.

The full opinion is available in PDF.

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