TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Andy Forward
DATE: July 2, 2010
RE: Rule 54, N.D.R.Civ.P., Judgment; Costs
Attorney Pat Morley emailed staff regarding some concerns he has about Rule 54. Mr. Morley believes the rule is not being followed correctly in the district courts. He says it is common when there is a settlement or a dismissal of one defendant in a multiple defendant case, that the attorney for the dismissed party will submit an Order for Judgment and a Final Judgment of Dismissal with prejudice. The Order for Judgment normally does not contain the language required by N.D.R.Civ.P. 54(b) for entry of a final judgment of dismissal. The majority of the clerks of court will sign the Final Judgment of Dismissal unless the District Court instructs otherwise. He says there are only a few judges in the cases he has been involved in that have instructed the clerk's office not to enter a final judgment.
Mr. Morley does not have any specific suggestions to amend the rule; he only requests that the judges and clerks be made more aware of the requirements of Rule 54(b). The Chief Justice and the Chair suggested the Committee discuss this issue to address whether the rule should be amended or a comment be added to the explanatory note to clarify the requirements of Rule 54(b).
A copy of Mr. Morley's email and Rule 54, as previously amended by the Committee, are attached, along with a letter Mr. Morley sent to a clerk of court.