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Appeals of Conditional Judgments

A conditional judgment is a court order that requires an alternative compensation to a plaintiff, if the defendant fails to provide the relief originally ordered by the court.  A conditional judgment may be issued subject to specific conditions.  For example, certain types of disputes, such as neighborhood disturbances, can be addressed by a conditional judgment.

A final judgment or decision is one that finally adjudicates the rights of the parties.  Generally, a final judgment must not be conditional.[i] At the same time, a judgment can be counted as final and appealable if at all it is conditional in nature if the order is self executing and requires no further judicial act.[ii] However, it is well recognized that orders containing self-executing conditional provisions can be immediately appealed.

In Thompson v. Thompson, 554 A.2d 1041 (R.I. 1989), the court observed that a conditional order that lacks the indicia of finality is not self executing and therefore cannot be regarded as a final judgment.  It was observed that an order conditionally certifying a class and authorizing notice is clearly not a final judgment terminating a litigation.[iii] Thus, the court does not have jurisdiction to consider an appeal under the final judgment rule mentioned under United States Code Service.[iv]

A conditional order takes effect automatically upon satisfaction of a stated condition.  Normally, an unreviewable order cannot be appealed.  Therefore, in order to determine the appealablity of an unreviewable order, the question to be answered is whether there is an absence of any need for a further action by the court to make such orders effective.[v]

[i] Simpson v. Low–Rent Housing Agency, 224 N.W.2d 624 (Iowa 1974)

[ii] People v. Sue Sarkis Bail Bonds, 182 Cal. App. 3d 650 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 1986)

[iii] Lusardi v. Xerox Corp., 747 F.2d 174 (3d Cir. N.J. 1984)

[iv] 28 USCS § 1291

[v] Foster v. Foster, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14166 (D.V.I. 2005)

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