In re: Aramark Sports and Entertainment Services, LLC, Civil No. 14-4118 (10th Cir. August 1, 2016)

A district court’s denial of a ship owner’s exoneration from or limitation of liability petition is subject to appellate jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(a)(3).

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit addressed the distinction between appellate jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291 and appellate jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(a)(3). While the former section limits appellate jurisdiction to “final decisions” of the district courts, the latter section permits certain interlocutory appeals in admiralty cases. 28 U.S.C. § 1292(a)(3) specifically states that “courts of appeals shall have jurisdiction of appeals from … [i]nterlocutory decrees of … district courts or the judges thereof determining the rights and liabilities of the parties to admiralty cases in which appeals from final decrees are allowed.” The Tenth Circuit explained that, “While not every district-court ruling on a potentially dispositive issue in an admiralty suit is appealable under § 1292(a)(3),” rulings that involve a party’s substantive rights or liabilities are immediately appealable. At issue in this appeal was whether the district court properly denied Aramark’s Limitation of Liability Act petition. Before addressing the merits of the appeal, the Tenth Circuit determined that, because there had been a determination of liability, “Aramark was not exonerated and would have to pay some damages,” it had appellate jurisdiction pursuant to § 1292(a)(3) even though other issues, such as the amount of damages, had not yet been decided.


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