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Kaseman v. Dist. of Columbia


March 11, 2005


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ellen Segal Huvelle United States District Judge


Upon consideration of plaintiffs' Motion to Enforce Judgment and defendants' opposition thereto, it is hereby

ORDERED that plaintiffs' motion [# 65] is DENIED. The Court's January 6, 2005 Memorandum Opinion, No. 03-1858, 2005 WL 40047 ("January Memorandum Opinion"), constitutes a money judgment, and defendants' appeal thereof automatically stays enforcement of the underlying Court Order requiring payment of $90,926.83. See Order, No. 03-1858 (D.D.C. Aug. 2, 2004) ("August Order"). See also Hoban v. WMATA, 841 F.2d 1157, 1158-59 (D.C. Cir. 1988); Fed. R. Civ. P. 62(d), (f).

As explained in the January Memorandum Opinion, defendants' ability to pay attorney's fees to a prevailing plainitff is circumscribed by various D.C. Appropriations Acts. 2005 WL 40047, at *2. This Circuit has acknowledged the "potential incongruity of courts' awarding fees that [the D.C. Appropriations Act] prohibits the District from paying," Calloway v. District of Columbia, 216 F.3d 1, 10 (D.C. Cir. 2000), and the August Order could conceivably have been understood as such a potentially incongruous award that, as in Calloway, the Court has authority to order, but the District may lack authority to pay. See id. at 12. The January Memorandum Opinion made clear that defendants did not know whether they could, consistent with the Appropriations Acts, "lawfully pay the sums previously ordered by the Court." Id. at *2 n.2. The Court exercised its discretion to reach the merits of this issue of first impression, for otherwise, defendants would have been placed in the untenable position of having to decide between defying this Court's Order or, in their view, violating an Act of Congress. Id. Moreover, had the Court agreed with defendants' arguments, the August Order may well have been revised pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b). See id. Thus, although the Court did not ultimately adopt defendants' legal position, the January Memorandum Opinion is properly understood as part and parcel of the August Order, because it was necessary in order to clarify whether the Order was immediately payable.

As such, the January Memorandum Opinion involved a money judgment. It resolved whether the $90,926.83 was an unpayable award under Calloway or exempt from the cap covering the prior administrative proceedings. The application of the automatic stay applicable under Fed. R. Civ. P. 62, see Hoban, 841 F.2d at 1158-59, depends on "whether the judgment involved is monetary or non-monetary." Hebert v. Exxon Corp., 953 F.2d 936, 938 (5th Cir. 1992). Automatic stays are not to be applied too narrowly and their application should not turn on a mere technicality. See id. (holding that a declaratory judgment clarifying an insurer's monetary liability was a money judgment); Cleveland Hair Clinic, Inc. v. Puig, 104 F.3d 123, 125 (7th Cir. 1997) (allowing stay of an order requiring payment of money, even where no "final judgment" had yet been rendered).

Indeed, the reason for not allowing an automatic stay does not apply here. As a general matter, defendants' entitlement to an automatic stay depends on whether a non-governmental defendant in the same position would have to post a supersedeas bond, see Hoban, 841 F.2d at 1159; Fed. R. Civ. P. 62(d), and such bonds may not be posted where non-monetary judgments are concerned, for they "may not adequately compensate a non-appealing party for loss incurred as a result of the stay of a non-money judgment." See Hebert, 953 F.2d at 938. Here, the January Memorandum Opinion does not grant an injunction or some other form of equitable relief. Rather, it is unquestionably a monetary judgment requiring payment of $90,926.83. If defendants were non-governmental, they would have to post a bond, which would "ensure[] that the prevailing party will recover in full, if the decision should be affirmed." Cleveland Hair Clinic, 104 F.3d at 125. Because defendants are, however, the District of Columbia and an officer thereof, they are entitled to an automatic stay without posting a supersedeas bond.*fn1 See D.C. Superior Court Rule 62(e); Hoban, 841 F.2d at 1159.

Accordingly, it is further ORDERED that enforcement of the August 2, 2004 Order [#46] is automatically STAYED pending resolution of defendants' appeal of the January 6, 2005 Memorandum Opinion [#61]. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 62(d), (f).


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