Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Omitting/Misnaming Appellants Not Fatal to Appellate Jurisdiction, Notwithstanding Fed.R.App.P. 3(c), If Real-Parties-in-Interest Are Obvious and Involved

From SEC v. Wealth Mgmt. LLC, 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 24537 (7th Cir. Dec. 1, 2010):

Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 3 requires a notice of appeal to "specify the party or parties taking the appeal by naming each one in the caption or body of the notice." Fed. R. App. P. 3(c)(1)(A). Rule 3(c)'s specificity requirement exists to give "fair notice of the specific individual or entity seeking to appeal." Torres v. Oakland Scavenger Co., 487 U.S. 312, 318, 108 S. Ct. 2405, 101 L. Ed. 2d 285 (1988). This requirement is not a mere formality; the Supreme Court has instructed that "[t]he failure to name a party in a notice of appeal . . . constitutes a failure of that party to appeal." Id. at 314. The rule also provides, however, that "[a]n appeal must not be dismissed for informality of form or title of the notice of appeal, or for failure to name a party whose intent to appeal is otherwise clear from the notice." Fed. R. App. P. 3(c)(4). Accordingly, we have held that an appeal should not be dismissed "if the notice as a whole is not misleading." Bradley v. Work, 154 F.3d 704, 707 (7th Cir. 1998); see also Torres, 487 U.S. at 318 (noting that dismissal is not appropriate if the notice of appeal informs the court and interested parties who is filing the appeal).

The notice of appeal in this case names the James P. and Sandra J. Verhoeven Revocable Trust as an appellant. The Verhoevens' trust [the appellant]was not the objector below, however; the Verhoevens objected as individuals. This technical discrepancy does not warrant dismissal. There is no real confusion as to the identity of the appellants. Whether the Verhoevens appear before this court through their trust or as individuals is not relevant to the facts or merits of their position; they are united as parties in interest. See United States v. Segal, 432 F.3d 767, 772 (7th Cir. 2005) (noting that a technical failure does not warrant dismissal if the appellees have not been misled).

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