No “sign-off mid-litigation” to “tinker with ongoing cases” . . .

In Tetra Technologies, Inc v. Continental Ins. Co., the district court ruled on several key issues in an insurance coverage dispute, declined to certify the rulings for immediate appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) because it found no substantial ground for difference of opinion, and entered judgment on those matters pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b).  No. 13-30516 (June 10, 2014).  The Fifth Circuit found that judgment improper, and thus dismissed on jurisdictional grounds for lack of a final and appealable order. Rather than sounding the “death knell” of claims as required by Rule 54, the Court concluded that the rulings would allow “Tetra and Maritech to prevail completely nor not at all on their indemnification claim against Continental, depending on the resolution of certain ‘factual issues.'”  “Thus, what we are presented with here is a request by the district court for us to sign off mid-litigation on legal questions it considers non-contentions.  Since the inception of the federal judiciary, however, our role has been to review final decisions of trial courts, not to tinker with ongoing cases through piecemeal appeals . . . “

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