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Supreme Court Clarifies Application of Final Judgment Rule in MDL Proceedings, But Uncertainty Remains

02/05/2015

On January 21, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated decision in Gelboim v. Bank of America Group. The case presented a single question: Is a district court order dismissing all claims in an action that was consolidated with several others for pretrial purposes a final and immediately appealable order? In a unanimous decision authored by Justice Ginsburg, the Supreme Court said “Yes.”

Ellen Gelboim alleged that defendant banks violated the antitrust laws by manipulating a measure of interest rates. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) consolidated her case with several similar cases solely for pretrial purposes. Although Gelboim sued only for antitrust violations, the other cases included non-antitrust claims as well. The district court dismissed all antitrust claims, but did not dismiss the other claims. Because Gelboim’s complaint contained only the antitrust claim, the court dismissed her complaint in its entirety. Gelboim appealed. The Second Circuit dismissed the appeal sua sponte, holding that the dismissal of Gelboim’s case was not immediately appealable because the cases with which it was consolidated (those also involving non-antitrust claims) remained pending in the district court.

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