Disqualification Orders in Civil Cases, as in Criminal Cases, Are Not Appealable as Collateral Orders — May Be Challenged on Appeal from Final Judgment

Guzall v. United States, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 6080 (6th Cir. Jan. 30, 2015):

On October 9, 2014, the district court granted the defendants' motion to disqualify the plaintiff's counsel in this action under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1961, et seq. The plaintiff moved for relief from the October 9 order and for reconsideration or clarification of that order. On November 21, 2014, the district court denied the motion for relief, reconsideration, or clarification. The plaintiff appeals the November 21 order.

The plaintiff was directed to show cause why her appeal should not be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. In response, she states that, in the November 21 order, the district [*2]  court provided that she could seek permission to appeal under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 5. The district court's statement that the case would be stayed to allow any party to seek permission to appeal does not confer appellate jurisdiction in this court. And "orders disqualifying counsel in civil cases, like orders disqualifying counsel in criminal cases and orders denying a motion to disqualify in civil cases, are not collateral orders subject to appeal as 'final judgments' within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1291." Richardson-Merrell, Inc. v. Koller, 472 U.S. 424, 440 (1985); see also In re Mechem, 880 F.2d 872, 873 (6th Cir. 1989).

The appeal is DISMISSED sua sponte for lack of jurisdiction. Because the court is without jurisdiction, we have not considered the merits of the disqualification order and deny the plaintiff's request that we instruct the district court to supplement its ruling. The plaintiff may challenge the disqualification of her counsel on appeal from the final judgment.

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