Final Judgments And Attorney’s Fees, Ctd.

Last December I wrote a post about a U.S. Supreme Court case that would consider whether a trial court judgment was final, for the purpose of seeking appellate review, if all issues in a case have been resolved except the issue of contractual attorney’s fees. 

Today, the Supreme Court issued its decision in that case, Ray Haluch Gravel Co. v. Central Pension Fund.  The Court held that a judgment is final for appellate review purposes, notwithstanding a pending motion by the prevailing party for an award of contractual attorney’s fees.   The Court rejected the argument that contractual attorney’s fees are necessarily part of a party’s claimed “damages” and that a judgment cannot be final until all damages issues are resolved.  Instead, the Court held that considerations of “operational consistency and predictability in the overall application of [28 U.S.C.] section 1291 warranted a uniform rule treating claims for attorney’s fees as collateral to the main judgment.

What does this mean for practitioners?  It means that if you don’t want your appeal of the main judgment dismissed as untimely, don’t wait until your motion for attorney’s fees is resolved before filing a notice of appeal of the main judgment.

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