Vindicating a simple principle in a case with a complex procedural background, the Court held unanimously today in Gelboim v. Bank of America that investors who sued banks for manipulating the globally influential LIBOR interest rate in violation of federal antitrust law had the right to take an appeal when their case was dismissed.
The basic point that parties who lose in a federal district court can appeal to a federal court of appeals had been obscured here by the use of a procedure to consolidate numerous similar cases for certain purposes in a single court before a single judge. This type of consolidated procedure is known as an "MDL" for "multi-district litigation." The plaintiffs in the case decided by the Supreme Court today (Gelboim) had had their case joined to several dozen others in an MDL. The district court dismissed the Gelboim case without dismissing all the various cases in the MDL. Since the Gelboim plaintiffs had lost and that decision was final as to them, they appealed, but the court of appeals said they had to wait until the rest of the MDL concluded, however long that might be. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals today, holding that — MDL or no — when parties lose their case and the decision is final as to them, they may appeal. So the Gelboim appeal will now be heared on the merits back in the court of appeals.
A good decision for access to justice. You can read it here.