July 09, 2019 Articles

A Word of Caution Against Stipulating to a Judgment or Order Reserving Issues for Potential Future Appeals

Appellate courts see it as giving rise to potential piecemeal appeals, which are highly disfavored.

By Phillip J. DeRosier

With certain limited exceptions, only “final” decisions are appealable as a matter of right. In Michigan, that typically means “the first judgment or order that disposes of all the claims and adjudicates the rights and liabilities of all the parties.” Mich. Ct. R. 7.202(6)(a)(i). In the federal system, a decision is final if it “ends the litigation on the merits and leaves nothing for the court to do but execute the judgment.” Catlin v. United States, 324 U.S. 229, 233 (1945). A recent decision from the Sixth Circuit illustrates the danger of parties stipulating to a “final” judgment or order that purports to “reserve” certain issues for further proceedings, including potential future appeals.

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