Litigation: NRCP 54(b) Certification of Partial Summary Judgement - Morris Law Center

Litigation: NRCP 54(b) Certification of Partial Summary Judgement

NRCP 54(b) allows a Court to make some orders on a motion for summary judgment final while the rest of the case moves forward. A ruling on partial summary judgment is not final and will not compel action by any party unless it is given finality through NRCP 54(b) certification. See NRCP 54; Allis-Chalmers Corp. v. Phila. Elec. Co., 521 F.2d 360, 365 (3d Cir. 1975).[1]  

NRCP 54(b) states, in relevant part “When an action presents more than one claim for relief…, the court may direct entry of a final judgment as to … fewer than all, claims … only if the court expressly determines that there is no just reason for delay. Otherwise, any order or other decision, however designated,… does not end the action as to any of the claims or parties and may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims…” This shows that a decision on a partial motion for summary judgment is not final or binding unless it is certified as such under NRCP 54(b).

This reading is further supported by caselaw. See e.g. Cascade Drinking Waters v. Cent. Tel. Co., 88 Nev. 702, 703, 504 P.2d 697, 697 (1972) (“This court has held that a judgment dismissing fewer than all parties to an action without an express determination that there is no just reason for delay by the district court is not a final judgment…”)[2]

Therefore, any order on a motion for partial summary judgment is not final and does not compel action unless it is either certified or incorporated into a final judgment on the entire case. Any order on a partial motion for summary judgment which is not certified is “of an interlocutory nature.” See Curtiss-Wright Corp. v. Gen. Elec. Co., 446 U.S. 1, 5, 100 S. Ct. 1460, 1463 (1980). Furthermore, an order on a motion for partial summary judgment is not appealable unless it is certified pursuant to NRCP 54(b). NRAP 3A(b); Cascade Drinking Waters, 88 Nev. at 703.

At Morris Law Center, we love to dig into the technicalities of the rules. As such, if you are an opposing attorney, do not expect to catch us slipping. However, if you are a fan of legal procedure, give us a call to discuss further.


Sources:

[1] “Under 54(b) procedure, the essential inquiry is whether, after balancing the competing factors, finality of judgment should be ordered to advance the interests of sound judicial administration and public policy.” While that case considered FRCP 54(b) rather than NRCP 54(b), the reasoning is identical and after the amendments which took effect on March 1st, the rules were deliberately brought into harmony.

[2] See also Allis-Chalmers Corp. v. Phila. Elec. Co., 521 F.2d 360, 367 (3d Cir. 1975) (finding that a “lack of competent Rule 54(b) certification” created a “lack of finality”).

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