Useless Judgment Doctrine Moots Appeal

Thursday, June 09, 2005
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that, under the useless judgment doctrine, it lacked jurisdiction to consider an appeal. In the instant case, plaintiff ship manager operated a ship for the owner. The ship was subject to a preferred ship mortgage and also subject to various liens held by suppliers of necessaries. When the owner did not pay as promised, plaintiff filed an in rem claim and had the ship arrested. The other claimants also filed their claims. The ship sale did not bring sufficient monies to pay all the claims. Following a hearing, the court denied various claims asserted by plaintiff and then ranked the various claims such that the monies were dissipated before plaintiff’s claim arose. The court then directed that the claims be paid in rank order. Plaintiff filed a timely appeal, but the funds were all paid out by the time the appeal could be heard. The appellate court ruled that its jurisdiction to hear the appeal depended on its jurisdiction over the res and the ability to grant relief if found appropriate. In this case, the res had been distributed and any judgment the court might render would be useless. The appeal was dismissed. Eurasia International Ltd. v. Holman Shipping Inc., No. 04-40666 Source: HK Law

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