Seventh Circuit Tells District Court to Tighten Up Its Orders

A portrait of Frank Easterbrook.

A district court’s sloppy orders were taken to task by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Feb. 9.

The first order contained internal inconsistencies and the second left the amount awarded in attorneys’ fees dangling, the opinion by Judge Frank H. Easterbrook noted.

Judgments must provide relief to the prevailing party and this one doesn’t, the court said. Instead, it says that one motion was granted, another denied, and an award made, but doesn’t say who is entitled to what, the appeals court said.

The document “transgresses almost every rule applicable to judgments,” it said.

The defendant appealed the award of attorneys’ fees, but a declaration of liability, including attorneys’ fees, “lacking an amount due is not final and cannot be appealed,” the court said.

Judges Amy C. Barrett and J.P. Stadtmueller, sitting by designation, joined the opinion.

Pollack Law Firm represented the plaintiff. Burke Warren MacKay & Serritella PC represented the defendant.

The case is Cooke v. Jackson Nat’l Life Ins. Co., 2018 BL 44581, 7th Cir., No. 17-2080, 2/9/18.