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Trollinger v. Tyson Foods

September 29, 2006

BIRDA TROLLINGER, VIRGINIA BRAVO, KELLY KESSINGER, IDOYNIA MCCOY, REGINA LEE, PATRICIA MIMS, LORI WINDHAM AND ALEXANDER HOWLETT, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS ) SIMILARLY SITUATED PLAINTIFFS,
v.
TYSON FOODS, INC., JOHN TYSON, ARCHIBALD SCHAFFER III, RICHARD, BOND, KENNETH KIMBRO, GREG LEE, KAREN PERCIVAL, AHRAZUE WILT AND TIM MCCOY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Curtis L. Collier

MEMORANDUM

Defendants Tyson Foods, Inc. and several named officers or employees*fn1 seek an extraordinary action from the Court, that is, they seek to have the Court certify a previous decision for an interlocutory appeal. Such actions on the part of the district courts are highly disfavored. In seeking this disfavored, extraordinary action, the party making such a request should advance strong factual and legal grounds for the request. Such compelling grounds are absent in this case so the Court will not accede to Tyson's request. Accordingly, the Court will DENY Defendants' motion.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On September 21, 2006 Tyson filed a "Motion for Amendment of the Court's Order on Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings to Permit Interlocutory Appeal" with an accompanying memorandum (Court File No. 175, 176). Defendants' motion requests the Court to amend its August 16, 2006 bench ruling*fn2 to include language which would permit Defendants to seek an interlocutory appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b).

This case was filed on April 2, 2002, over four years ago (Complaint, Court File No. 1). Even though it has been on the Court's docket for over four years, it is still in the pretrial stage. Upon Defendants' motion, the case was dismissed previously (Court File No. 22). After review on appeal, the dismissal was reversed on June 7, 2004 (Court File No. 25; Trollinger v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 370 F.3d 602 (6th Cir. 2004)) and the case returned to this Court's docket. Tyson filed a second motion for judgment on the pleadings (Court File No. 162) on July 14, 2006. With respect to this motion the Court heard oral arguments on August 14, 2006 and rendered an oral decision from the bench immediately after the arguments (Court File No. 171).

For purposes of this motion, the Court does not deem it necessary to state any additional facts. In the Memorandum (Court File No. 174) explaining the reasoning supporting its decision on the Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings (the September memorandum) the Court previously summarized the relevant facts. The Court will refer to the facts stated in that memorandum as necessary and will refer interested readers to that memorandum.

As the Court stated earlier, extensive pleadings have been filed in this case and a substantial amount of time has passed since the Plaintiffs*fn3 filed their suit. Because of the age of this case and the continuing burdens placed on the parties both in terms of the expenditure of considerable sums and the commitment of extensive efforts in the litigation thus far, it is necessary to ensure this case moves forward expeditiously. However, the Court is not of the opinion delaying this case further to enable Defendants to obtain an advance ruling from the appellate court so as to "avoid a considerable expenditure of resources by the Court and the parties" in further proceedings (Court File No. 176, Defendant's Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion to Amend Order, p. 5) would be a prudent course of action to take. Moreover, for the reasons given in its oral decision, as well as the authority of the recently decided case of Williams v. Mohawk Industries, Inc., --- F.3d ----, No. 04-13740 (11th Cir. Sept. 27, 2006), the Court is not of the opinion Defendants' effort would be fruitful.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

As a threshold matter, the Court notes interlocutory appeals in the federal system are disfavored. See Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. v. Risjord, 449 U.S. 368, 374 (1981); Sinclair v. Schriber, 834 F.2d 103, 105 (6th Cir.1987). With certain very limited exceptions, appeals from district courts are restricted to the final judgments of such courts. Sinclair, 834 F.2d at 104. This requirement, often referred to as the final judgment rule, is embodied in statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1291.

The final judgment rule reduces the points of error which must be reviewed to those that are material to the actual result, and provides efficiency by consolidating all grounds for appeal into a single action. Coming Up v. City and County of San Francisco, 857 F. Supp. 711, 718 (N.D.Cal.1994). Exceptions to this rule exist but typically require extraordinary circumstances. W. Tenn. Chapter of Assoc. Builders & Contractors, Inc. v. City of Memphis, (In re City of Memphis), 293 F.3d 345, 350 (6th Cir. 2002)(noting "review under § 1292(b) is granted sparingly and only in exceptional cases"); General Acquisition, Inc. v. GenCorp, 23 F.3d 1022, 1026 (6th Cir. 1994). Moreover, the party seeking an interlocutory appeal has the burden of showing that exceptional circumstances exist warranting an interlocutory appeal. Judicial Watch, Inc. v. National Energy Policy Development Group, 233 F. Supp. 2d 16, 20 (D.D.C. 2002); Coming Up, 857 F. Supp. at 718.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ( the "Sixth Circuit") has repeatedly explained "Congress intended that Section 1292(b) should be sparingly applied." Cardwell v. Chesapeake & O. R. Co., 504 F.2d 444, 446 (6th Cir. 1974) (citing Kraus v. Board of County Comm'rs, 364 F.2d 919, 922 (6th Cir. 1966)). Section 1292(b) is "to be used only in exceptional cases where an intermediate appeal may avoid protracted and expensive litigation and is not intended to open the floodgates to a vast number of appeals from interlocutory orders in ordinary litigation." Id. The Supreme Court of the United States (the "Supreme Court") in Firestone, in discussing the final judgment rule, enunciated some of the policy reasons for ordinarily disfavoring interlocutory appeals:

This rule, that a party must ordinarily raise all claims of error in a single appeal following final judgment on the merits, serves a number of important purposes. It emphasizes the deference that appellate courts owe to the trial judge as the individual initially called upon to decide the many questions of law and fact that occur in the course of a trial. Permitting piecemeal appeals would undermine the independence of the district judge, as well as the special role that individual plays in our judicial system. In addition, the rule is in accordance with the sensible policy of "avoid[ing] the obstruction to just claims that would come from permitting the harassment and cost of a succession of separate appeals from the various rulings to which a litigation may give rise, from its initiation to entry of judgment."

Firestone, 449 U.S. at 374 (citations omitted). Also, the rule serves the important purpose of "promoting efficient judicial administration." Id.

In the first instance, the obligation rests upon the district judge to decide matters before him. Attractive as it may be to refer difficult matters to a higher court for advance decision, such a course of action is contrary to our system of jurisprudence. General Acquisition, 23 F.3d at 1026; Hogan v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 961 F.2d 1021, 1025 (2nd Cir. 1992). Only in clearly delineated circumstances may ...


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