Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Rule 37 Sanctions: Until Amount of Attorney’s Fees Is Set, No Final Order Or Appellate Jurisdiction Exists, Even If Fee Award Is Only One Part of Larger Award, Including Default Judgment and Dismissal of Counterclaims

 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Dade City's Wild Things, Inc., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 26042 (11th Cir. Aug. 17, 2020):


The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc.'s ("PETA") motion to dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction is GRANTED. Appellant Kathryn P. Stearns, apparently proceeding pro se, filed a notice of appeal from the district court's orders entering sanctions against all defendants and the district court's subsequent final judgment. Specifically, the district court determined that defendants' violations of the court's July 2017 discovery orders mandated severe sanctions pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 and its inherent authority. The district court ordered a default judgment for PETA, along [*2]  with the dismissal of defendants' counterclaims and for defendants to pay PETA's reasonable attorneys' fees and expenses incurred in relation to defendants' violations, which the court noted would be subsequently determined. At the time Kathryn Stearns filed the notice of appeal, the amount of attorneys' fees remained undetermined. Accordingly, there is no final order for purposes of our review and we thus lack jurisdiction over this appeal. See 28 U.S.C. § 1291 (providing for appellate jurisdiction over "appeals from all final decisions of the district courts of the United States"); World Fuel Corp. v. Geithner, 568 F.3d 1345, 1348 (11th Cir. 2009) (noting that a final order is one which "ends the litigation on the merits and leaves nothing for the court to do but execute its judgment" (quotation marks omitted); Jaffe v. Sundowner Props., Inc., 808 F.2d 1425, 1426-27 (11th Cir. 1987) ("Since the award of attorney's fees is not collateral to a dismissal under Rule 37(d), but a part of the sanction, the amount of the award must be determined before there can be a complete review of the court's Rule 37(d) order.").

All other pending motions are DENIED as moot.

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