By Evelyn Norton

Today, in an unpublished per curiam opinion, in the civil case of Wade v. U.S., the Fourth Circuit affirmed the decision of the District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia to deny a motion to alter or amend its judgment.

The District Court Entered Judgment in Favor of Defendant and Denied Plaintiff’s Motion

The district court granted judgment to Defendant following a bench trial.  Subsequently, Plaintiff Tracy E. Wade, Administratrix of the Estate of Richard Brian Wade, filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 59.  However, the district court denied Plaintiff’s motion.

Thus, Plaintiff appealed the judgment in favor of Defendant and denial of the Rule 59 motion.  Defendant initially argued that the Fourth Circuit lacked jurisdiction because Plaintiff did not timely file the appeal.  However, the Fourth Circuit ordered the parties to submit supplemental briefs on the issue of whether the district court properly entered judgment on a separate document.

The Fourth Circuit Did Not Lack Jurisdiction

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 58 require the essentials of a judgement be set forth in a separate written document from the court’s opinion.  Here, the Fourth Circuit concluded that the district court failed to enter judgment on a separate document, thus giving the Fourth Circuit jurisdiction.

 The District Court Did Not Err or Abuse its Discretion

The Fourth Circuit reviewed the district court’s factual findings for clear error and its conclusions of law de novo.  The Court reviewed the denial of the Rule 59 motion for abuse of discretion.

After considering the record and the parties’ briefs, the Court determined that the facts and legal contentions were already adequately presented.  Thus, the Court dispensed with oral argument because it would not aid in the decision process.  The Court concluded the district court neither erred nor abused its discretion in entering judgement in favor of Defendant and denying Plaintiff’s Rule 59 motion.

District Court Affirmed

The Fourth Circuit affirmed the denial of Plaintiff’s motion to alter or amend the district court’s judgment.

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