Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction. These three words will be on mental repeat after reading the North Carolina Court of Appeals’ decision this week in MDT Personnel, LLC v. APH Contractors, Inc. Appellants–You know what appellate jurisdiction is and you usually know what it looks like. Just don’t forget to tell the Court when you’ve got it.
In MDT Personnel, the Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal before reaching the merits based on procedural shortcomings with the record and briefing—shortcomings that presumably could have been avoided.
Problem No. 1. The appellant did not include documents showing that the appealed judgment and order were final. Without such, the Court was unable to determine whether certain cross-claims in the case had been resolved. No final judgment generally means no right to immediate appellate review.
Problem No. 2. The appellant used the “statement of grounds for appellate review” section of its brief to summarize its argument on the merits. There was no mention of whether the appeal had been taken from a final judgment or whether it was interlocutory. There was also no citation to the statute under which the appellant was seeking appellate review—all of which are required under Appellate Rule 28(b)(4).
As the Court of Appeals explained, “we cannot simply assume that we have jurisdiction.” It is the appellant’s duty to show the Court that the appeal is proper, and when that is not done, the appeal can and likely will be dismissed.
MDT Personnel provides an important reminder: Don’t get so wrapped up with the merits of your appeal that you forget to adequately address this important jurisdictional prerequisite.
Hat tip to our friend John Bowers for pointing this decision out to us.
– Beth Scherer