Imagine that your client has been sued for damages in federal court. In a motion for summary judgment, you assert what you believe to be a valid and compelling legal defense, such as the plaintiff’s failure to exhaust administrative remedies. There are no facts in dispute regarding the defense—it presents a purely legal question for the judge to resolve before any trial takes place. Yet the judge denies your dispositive motion, and so you proceed to a jury trial, where your client is hit with a substantial verdict. As you consider post-trial motions, you may wonder: must you re-brief the purely legal defense in a Rule 50 motion — even though the judge previously denied it on summary judgment — in order to preserve that issue for appeal?
We’ve written before about the heartfelt pain appellate lawyers experience when a case is dismissed after briefing and oral argument at the Ohio Supreme Court. In the first instance, it happened for a lack of a final appealable order. In the second, the court ultimately decided the case had already been mooted. It turns out there’s a third possibility — a jurisdictional defect.
Continue Reading A pain worse than losing (Part 3): A jurisdictional defect