Firestone Tire & Rubber Company v. Risjord

PETITIONER: Firestone Tire & Rubber Company
RESPONDENT: Risjord
LOCATION: Western District Court of Kentucky

DOCKET NO.: 79-1420
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

CITATION: 449 US 368 (1981)
ARGUED: Nov 12, 1980
DECIDED: Jan 13, 1981

ADVOCATES:
Harvey M. Grossman - on behalf of the petitioner
Harvey Grossman - on behalf of the Petitioner
John R. Gibson - on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Firestone Tire & Rubber Company v. Risjord

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 12, 1980 in Firestone Tire & Rubber Company v. Risjord

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - January 13, 1981 in Firestone Tire & Rubber Company v. Risjord

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in Firestone Tire & Rubber Company against Risjord will be announced by Mr. Justice Marshall.

Thurgood Marshall:

This case is here on writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

That Court affirmed an order by the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri refusing to disqualify the respondent who has an attorney from representing the plaintiffs in an ongoing civil suit against petitioners.

The Eighth Circuit also held that in the future, such orders would not be appealable until after final judgment in the underlying litigation.

They've made a certiorari to resolve a conflict among the circuits of where the orders denying motion to disqualify counsel in civil cases are appealable and final decisions under 28 United States Code Section 1291.

We held -- we hold here that these orders are not appealable prior to final judgments on the merits of the underlying litigation.

If a denial of disqualification motion is erroneous, it is fully reviewable on appeal after the trial is terminated.

We also hold that although the Eighth Circuit properly reached this conclusion, it committed error by making its decision perspective only and reaching the merits of the disqualification motion.

The provisions of 28 U.S.C. 1291 are jurisdictional and once the Court of Appeals determined that the order was not appealable, it should have dismissed the appeal.

Reasons for these conclusions are more fully set forth in an opinion filed this morning with the clerk.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals is therefore vacated.

The case is remanded with instructions to dismiss the appeal for want of jurisdiction.

Justice Rehnquist joined by the Chief Justice has filed an opinion concurring in the result.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Mr. Justice Marshall.