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Microsoft Corp. v. Baker

Supreme Court of the United States

March 21, 2017, Argued; June 12, 2017, Decided

No. 15-457.

Opinion

Justice Ginsburg delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case concerns options open to plaintiffs, when denied class-action [***7]  certification by a district court, to gain appellate review of the district court’s order. Orders granting or denying class certification, this Court has held, are “inherently interlocutory,” Coopers & Lybrand v. Livesay, 437 U. S. 463, 470, 98 S. Ct. 2454, 57 L. Ed. 2d 351 (1978), hence not immediately reviewable under 28 U. S. C. §1291, which provides for appeals from “final decisions.” Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(f), promulgated in 1998, however, orders denying or granting class certification may be appealed immediately if the court of appeals so permits. Absent such permission, plaintiffs may pursue their individual claims on the  [**137]  merits to final judgment, at which point the denial of class-action certification becomes ripe for review.

The plaintiffs in the instant case, respondents here, were denied Rule 23(f) permission to appeal the District Court’s refusal to grant class certification. Instead of pursuing their individual claims to final judgment on the merits, respondents stipulated  [*1707]  to a voluntary dismissal of their claims “with prejudice,” but reserved the right to revive their claims should the Court of Appeals reverse the District Court’s certification denial.

We hold that the voluntary dismissal essayed by respondents does not qualify as a “final decision” within the compass of §1291. The tactic would undermine [***8]  §1291’s firm finality principle, designed to guard against piecemeal appeals, and subvert the balanced solution Rule 23(f) put in place for immediate review of class-action orders.

Under §1291 of the Judicial Code, federal courts of appeals are empowered to review only “final decisions of the district courts.” 28 U. S. C. §1291. 1 Two guides, our decision in Coopers & Lybrand v. Livesay, 437 U. S. 463, 98 S. Ct. 2454, 57 L. Ed. 2d 351 (1978), and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(f), control our application of that finality rule here.

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137 S. Ct. 1702 *; 198 L. Ed. 2d 132 **; 2017 U.S. LEXIS 3721 ***; 85 U.S.L.W. 4330; CCH Prod. Liab. Rep. P20,078; 97 Fed. R. Serv. 3d (Callaghan) 1529; 26 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 631; 2017 WL 2507341

MICROSOFT CORPORATION, Petitioner v. SETH BAKER, et al.

Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.

Prior History:  [***1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

Baker v. Microsoft Corp., 797 F.3d 607, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12883 (9th Cir. Wash., July 20, 2015)

Disposition: Reversed and remanded.

CORE TERMS

court of appeals, district court, class certification, allegations, certification, appeals, individual claim, death-knell, interlocutory order, orders, voluntary dismissal, final judgment, interlocutory appeal, permission, final decision, interlocutory, quotation, marks, class-certification, courts, appellate review, federal court, class-action, rulemaking, tactic, putative class action, immediate appeal, Scratched, litigate, certify

Civil Procedure, Special Proceedings, Class Actions, Certification of Classes, Appeals, Appellate Jurisdiction, Final Judgment Rule, Interlocutory Orders