United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER DIRECTING ENTRY OF JUDGMENT
OTAKE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
trial in this case spanned from December 3, 2018 to January
4, 2019. On January 11, 2019, the jury rendered a verdict in
favor of Plaintiff/Counterclaim Defendant Gramercy Group,
Inc. (“Gramercy”) and Defendant/Counterclaim
Plaintiff D.A. Builders (“D.A. Builders”). ECF
No. 602. Following the entry of the Special Verdict Form, the
parties commenced settlement negotiations. During the
pendency of negotiations, the Court held in abeyance all
outstanding rulings pertaining to the parties' motions
for judgment as a matter of law. On May 7, 2019, the Court
cautioned the parties that if they did not reach a settlement
by May 17, 2019, it would issue rulings on all pending
motions. ECF No. 631.
17, 2019, Gramercy filed a Notice of Bankruptcy Case Filing
by Plaintiff Gramercy Group, Inc., Exhibit A, and Automatic
Stay. ECF No. 632. The same day, the Court issued an Entering
Order limiting the 11 U.S.C. § 362 automatic stay to the
counterclaims against Gramercy. ECF No. 633.
20, 2019, the Court issued an Entering Order deeming moot
D.A. Builders' Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law.
ECF No. 635. Given the jury's verdict, the disposition of
D.A. Builders' Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law,
and the lack of issues remaining for disposition, the Court
HEREBY DIRECTS the Clerk to enter judgment pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”)
54(b) in favor of Gramercy and against D.A.
Builders with respect to Gramercy's claims for the
reasons articulated below.
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.
. . .
Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b). The Court employs a two-part framework
for FRCP 54(b) determinations. First, the Court must
ascertain whether it is dealing with a final judgment.
“It must be a ‘judgment' in the sense that it
is a decision upon a cognizable claim for relief, and it must
be ‘final' in the sense that it is ‘an
ultimate disposition of an individual claim entered in the
course of a multiple claims action.'”
Curtiss-Wright Corp. v. Gen. Elec. Co., 446 U.S. 1,
7 (1980) (citation omitted); Wood v. GCC Bend, LLC,
422 F.3d 873, 878 (9th Cir. 2005). Next, the Court assesses
“whether there is any just reason for delay.”
Curtiss-Wright, 446 U.S. at 8; Wood, 422
F.3d at 878. It is within the Court's sound discretion
“to determine the ‘appropriate time' when
each final decision in a multiple claims action is ready for
appeal.” Curtiss-Wright, 446 U.S. at 8;
Wood, 422 F.3d at 878.
The Judgment is Final
subject judgment is a decision by the jury as to
Gramercy's claims against Defendants. And it is final in
that it is an ultimate disposition of Gramercy's claims
in an action that also involves counterclaims. Having
determined that it is dealing with a final judgment for the
purposes of FRCP 54(b), the Court now considers whether there
is any just reason for delay.
There are no Just Reasons for Delay
on the procedural posture and unique circumstances of this
case, the Court finds that there are no just reasons for
delay. In making such a determination, the Court must factor
judicial administrative interests and the equities involved.
Curtiss-Wright, 446 U.S. at 8. FRCP 54(b) judgments
“must be reserved for the unusual case in which the
costs and risks of multiplying the number of proceedings and
of overcrowding the appellate docket are outbalanced by
pressing needs of the litigants for an early and separate
judgment as to some claims or parties.”
Morrison-Knudsen Co. v. Archer, 655 F.2d 962, 965
(9th Cir. 1981). The trial court is required to make
“specific findings setting forth the reasons for its
courts may “consider such factors as whether the
adjudicated claims were separable from the others and whether
the nature of the claim was such that no appellate court
would have to decide the same issues more than once.”
Wood, 422 F.3d at 878 n.2 (quoting
Curtiss-Wright, 446 U.S. at 8 & n.2). In the
absence of any of these factors, certification is not
necessarily improper, but “would require the district
court ‘to find a sufficiently important reason for
nonetheless granting certification.'” Id.
(quoting Curtiss-Wright, 446 U.S. at 8 & n.2).
“A similarity of legal or factual issues will weigh
heavily against entry of judgment under the rule, and in such
cases a Rule 54(b) order will be proper only where necessary
to avoid a harsh and unjust result, documented by further and
specific findings.” Morrison-Knudsen, 655 F.2d
trial concluded and the verdict entered in January. If not
for the settlement negotiations, the Court would have
likewise entered judgment in January. Further, if not for the
automatic stay, the Court would have also ruled on
Gramercy's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law and
entered judgment as to the entire case on May 17, 2019.
Because the parties have not achieved a settlement,
it does not appear they will do so, there is no just reason
for further delay. More than four months have lapsed since
trial/entry of the verdict and the proceedings against
Gramercy are now subject to an automatic stay due to its
Chapter 11 bankruptcy action. With no current prospect of
settlement, judicial administrative interests will not be
served by continuing to hold in abeyance the entry of