We recently posted blog entries on the continuing saga of Idaho’s final judgment rule. See Feb. 9, 2015 Post; Feb. 12, 2014 Post. As discussed there, the Idaho Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized that it will not hear an appeal unless a proper final judgment is entered under Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure (“I.R.C.P.”) 54(a). The Court has also proposed rule amendments to I.R.C.P. 54(a) and Idaho Appellate Rules (“I.A.R.”) 11, 11.1, and 17 that further emphasize the critical importance of securing a final judgment that complies with I.R.C.P. 54(a):

I.R.C.P. 54(a) – the proposed changes require a “partial judgment” or an “amended judgment” to also comply with the requirements for the contents of a “judgment.”

I.A.R. 11 – the proposed changes require a copy of the judgment or order appealed from to be attached to the notice of appeal.

I.A.R. 11.1 – the proposed changes require a copy of the judgment granting or denying a petition for adoption to be attached to the notice of appeal.

I.A.R. 17 – the proposed changes require the notice of appeal to “have attached to it a copy of the judgment or order appealed from.” The form of a notice of appeal must include the following language: “A copy of the judgment or order being appealed is attached to this notice, as well as a copy of the final judgment if this is an appeal from an order entered after final judgment.”

The Court has also proposed fundamental changes to I.R.C.P. 54(b)(1), as those changes limit when a trial court can enter a certificate of final judgment (also known as a “Rule 54(b) certificate”) in an action that is not fully resolved.

Under the existing rule, a party can obtain a Rule 54(b) certificate – and thus immediately appeal – on a claim when more than one claim for relief is presented in the action or when multiple parties are involved. The proposed amendment would restrict the entry of a Rule 54(b) certificate to more limited circumstances: “[w]hen one or more claims for relief are asserted against more than one party in an action” and when “all of the claims asserted against one or more but less than all parties” are resolved. (Emphases added.)

In other words, under the proposed amendment, a Rule 54(b) certificate would only be available when the action includes claims against more than one party and all of the claims against the party seeking the certificate have been resolved. A Rule 54(b) certificate would not be available when one or more claims remain against any party seeking finality or in actions involving multiple claims against a single defendant. It is unclear how many cases would be impacted by the proposed amendment to I.R.C.P. 54(b)(1), but it poses a fundamental change that practitioners would have to consider, particularly in complex litigation.

The proposed amendments can be found here.  Comments on the proposed amendments are due April 3, 2015.