Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

On Remand After Appeal, District Court Must Implement “Both the Letter and the Spirit of the Mandate” — Good Quotes

EEOC v. Kronos Inc., 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 19320 (3d Cir. Sept. 14, 2012):

"It is axiomatic that on remand for further proceedings after [a] decision by an appellate court, the trial court must proceed in accordance with the mandate and the law of the case as established on appeal." Bankers Trust Co. v. Bethlehem Steel Corp., 761 F.2d 943, 949 (3d Cir. 1985). "A trial court must implement both the letter and spirit of the mandate, taking into account the appellate court's opinion and the circumstances it embraces." Id. When an appellate court does not issue specific instructions on how to proceed, "the question as to what further proceedings can be had consistent with the opinion of the appellate court must be determined from the nature of the case and the pertinent statutory provisions." Id. at 950. During the course of such proceedings, the district court "may consider, as a matter of first impression, those issues not expressly or implicitly disposed of by the appellate decision." Id.

As we recently explained in United States v. Kennedy, 682 F.3d 244 (3d Cir. 2012), the requirement that a district court comply in full with our mandate has several important purposes:

It preserves the proper allocation of authority within the tiered federal court structure set up by Congress and the Constitution. It promotes predictability and finality by notifying parties of the matters that remain open on remand and committing the rest to final resolution. And it safeguards stability in the administration of justice, for the orderly functioning of the judiciary would no doubt crumble if trial judges were free to disregard appellate rulings. See Litman v. Mass. Mut. Life Ins. Co., 825 F.2d 1506, 1511-12 (11th Cir. 1987) ("Post mandate maneuvering in the district courts would undermine the authority of appellate courts and create a great deal of uncertainty in the judicial process."); cf. Hutto v. Davis, 454 U.S. 370, 375 (1982) ("[U]nless we wish anarchy to prevail within the federal judicial system, a precedent of this Court must be followed by the lower federal courts no matter how misguided the judges of those courts may think it to be.").


"It is well established that arguments not raised before the District Court are waived on appeal." DIRECTV Inc. v. Seijas, 508 F.3d 123, 125 n.1 (3d Cir. 2007). However, when a case is remanded, a district court "may consider, as a matter of first impression, those issues not expressly or implicitly disposed of by the appellate decision." Bankers Trust, 761 F.2d at 950. We have thus explained that a district court "is thereby free to make any order or direction in further progress of the case, not inconsistent with the decision of the appellate court, as to any question not settled by the decision." Id.

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