WASHINGTON — In the ongoing Leslie Jack litigation previously reported by Asbestos Case Tracker, the plaintiff’s Motion for Entry of Final Judgment in favor of Union Pacific Railroad (Union) was recently denied. The plaintiff moved for entry after Union’s motion for summary judgment was granted by the court and after a mistrial against remaining defendants DCo and Ford was declared. The plaintiff argued that entry of final judgment would lead to judicial economy predicated on the theory that if the plaintiff prevailed on its appeal against Union then his claims could be tried against all three defendants. That possibility couldn’t happen without enter of final judgment hence the motion.
The court noted its authority to enter judgment against “as to one or more” defendants in multi-party litigation. The test for applying its power to enter judgment includes a determination that 1) the judgment is final and 2) whether there is just reason for delay. The court concluded that the plaintiff provided nothing showing a reason for entry of final judgment. The court was particularly troubled that “questions or Union Pacific’s summary judgment motion does not negate the substantial common ground between the plaintiff’s claims against Union Pacific and their claims against the remaining defendants.” Therefore, the court found a risk of violating traditional notions against “piecemeal appeals of claims with overlapping legal and factual bases.” Moreover, the court was not persuaded by the argument concerning judicial economy because it assumed that the appeal of Union’s summary judgment would occur prior to the plaintiff’s second trial on his negligence claims against the DCo and Ford. Consequently, the motion was denied.