424 U.S. 737 (1976), 74-1245, Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. v. Wetzel

Docket Nº:No. 74-1245
Citation:424 U.S. 737, 96 S.Ct. 1202, 47 L.Ed.2d 435
Party Name:Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. v. Wetzel
Case Date:March 23, 1976
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 737

424 U.S. 737 (1976)

96 S.Ct. 1202, 47 L.Ed.2d 435

Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.

v.

Wetzel

No. 74-1245

United States Supreme Court

March 23, 1976

Argued January 19, 1976

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Respondents filed a complaint alleging that petitioner's employee insurance benefits and maternity leave regulations discriminated against its women employees in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and seeking injunctive relief, damages, costs, and attorneys' fees. After ruling in respondents' favor on their motion for a partial summary judgment on the issue of petitioner's liability under the Act, the District Court, upon denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration, issued an amended order stating that injunctive relief would be withheld because petitioner had filed an appeal and had asked for a stay of any injunction, and directing that, pursuant to Fed.Rule Civ.Proc. 54(b), final judgment be entered for respondents, there being no just reason for delay. The Court of Appeals, holding that it had jurisdiction of [96 S.Ct. 1204] petitioner's appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, affirmed on the merits.

Held:

1. The District Court's order was not appealable as a final decision under § 1291. Pp. 742-744.

(a) Even assuming that the order was a declaratory judgment on the issue of liability, it nevertheless left unresolved and did not finally dispose of any of the respondents' prayers for relief. P. 742.

(b) The order did not become appealable as a final decision pursuant to § 1291 merely because it made the recital required by Rule 54(b), since that Rule applies only to multiple claim actions in which one or more but less than all of the claims have been finally decided and are found otherwise ready for appeal, and does not apply to a single-claim action such as this one, where the complaint advanced a single legal theory that was applied to only one set of facts. Pp. 742-744.

(c) The order, apart from its reference to Rule 54(b), constitutes a grant of partial summary judgment limited to the issue of petitioner's liability, is by its terms interlocutory, and, where

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damages or other relief remain to be resolved, cannot be considered "final" within the meaning of § 1291. P. 744.

2. Nor was the order appealable pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292's provisions for interlocutory appeals. Pp. 744-745.

(a) Even if the order, insofar as it failed to include the requested injunctive relief, could be considered an interlocutory order refusing an injunction within the meaning of § 1292(a)(1), and thus would have allowed respondents then to obtain review in the Court of Appeals, there was no denial of any injunction sought by petitioner, and it could not avail itself of that grant of jurisdiction. Pp. 744-745.

(b) Even if the order could be considered as an order that the District Court certified for immediate appeal pursuant to § 1292(b) as involving a controlling question of law as to which there was substantial ground for difference of opinion, it does not appear that petitioner applied to the Court of Appeals for permission to appeal within 10 days as required by § 1292(b); moreover, there can be no assurance, had the other requirements of § 1292(b) been met, that the Court of Appeals would have exercised its discretion to entertain the interlocutory appeal. P. 745.

511 F.2d 199, vacated and remanded.

REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which all Members joined except BLACKMUN, J., who took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

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REHNQUIST, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

Respondents filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in which they asserted that petitioner's employee insurance benefits and maternity leave regulations discriminated against women in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 253, as amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (1970 ed. and Supp. IV). The District Court ruled in favor of respondents on the issue of petitioner's liability under that Act, and petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. That court held that it had jurisdiction of petitioner's appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and proceeded to affirm on the merits the judgment of the District Court. We

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granted certiorari, 421 U.S. 987 (1975), and heard argument on the merits. Though neither party has questioned the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals to entertain the appeal, we are...

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