Griggs v. Provident Consumer Discount Co.Annotate this Case
459 U.S. 56 (1982)
U.S. Supreme Court
Griggs v. Provident Consumer Discount Co., 459 U.S. 56 (1982)
Griggs v. Provident Consumer Discount Co.
Decided November 29, 1982
459 U.S. 56
ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES
COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT
The District Court entered judgment for petitioners in their civil action against respondent, which then filed a timely motion to alter or amend the judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59. While that motion was still pending, respondent filed a notice of appeal. Thereafter, the District Court denied the motion to alter or amend the judgment, and the Court of Appeals accepted jurisdiction of the appeal and reversed the District Court's judgment. The Court of Appeals held that, although Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(4) provides that a notice of appeal, filed before the disposition of a motion filed in the district court to alter or amend the judgment, "shall have no effect," and a new notice of appeal "must be filed" after entry of the order disposing of the motion, nevertheless an appellant who filed a premature notice of appeal could proceed unless the appellee showed prejudice resulting from the premature filing of the notice, which was not done here.
Held: The Court of Appeals' analysis of Rule 4(a)(4) is contrary to the language and purposes of the 1979 amendments to the Rules of Appellate Procedure. Prior to 1979, if a notice of appeal was filed pending disposition of a motion to vacate, alter, or amend the judgment, it was generally held that the district court retained jurisdiction to decide the motion, and the notice of appeal was adequate for purposes of beginning the appeals process. However, after the 1979 amendments, when a premature notice of appeal is filed, it is as if no notice of appeal were filed at all, and thus the court of appeals lacks jurisdiction to act. The requirement of a timely notice of appeal is mandatory and jurisdictional.
Certiorari granted; 680 F.2d 927, vacated and remanded.
The petition for certiorari questions the validity of a notice of appeal filed after the entry of the District Court's judgment but while the appellant's motion to alter or amend that judgment remained pending in the District Court.
The petitioners brought this civil action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, seeking statutory damages for an alleged violation of the Truth in Lending Act, 82 Stat. 146, as amended, 15 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq., and Regulation Z of the Federal Reserve Board, 12 CFR § 226.1 et seq. (1982). On December 24, 1980, the District Court granted the petitioners' motion for summary judgment, finding that the respondent's disclosure of its security interests in after-acquired property had been inaccurate and misleading. 503 F.Supp. 246. On November 5, 1981, the District Court entered an order pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) directing that a final judgment be entered. On November 12, the respondent filed a timely motion to alter or amend the judgment, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59. On November 19, while that motion was still pending, the respondent filed a notice of appeal. On November 23, the District Court denied the motion to alter or amend the judgment. Neither the opinion below nor the response to the petition for a writ of certiorari indicates that any further notice of appeal was filed.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit accepted jurisdiction of the appeal and reversed the District Court's judgment. 680 F.2d 927 (1982). The Court of Appeals explained its decision to take jurisdiction as follows:
"The Griggses urge that this matter is not appealable, because Rule 4(a)(4) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure provides that '[a] notice of appeal filed before the disposition of any of the above motions shall have no effect.' Appellant did fail to satisfy Rule 4(a)(4), but, though a premature notice of appeal is subject to dismissal, we have generally allowed appellant to proceed unless the appellee can show prejudice resulting from the premature filing of the notice. Tose v. First Pennsylvania Bank, N.A. 648 F.2d 879, 882 n. 2 (3d Cir.),
cert. denied,  U.S.  . . . (1981); Hodge v. Hodge, 507 F.2d 87, 89 (3d Cir.1975); accord, William v. Town of Okoboji, 599 F.2d 238 (8th Cir.1979). See also 9 Moore's Federal Practice
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