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United States v. Bear Marine Services

    Brief Fact Summary.

    The United States sued International Matex Tank Terminals, Inc.  and Bear Marine Services (Bear) for an oil spill in the Mississippi River under claims of maritime negligence.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    An appellate court may not grant an interlocutory review if doing so does not advance litigation.

    Facts.

    International Matex Tank Terminals, Inc. (IMTT) maintained a structure called a dolphin within the Mississippi River. The United States sued the IMTT and Bear Marine Services (Bear) for an oil spill caused by damage to the dolphin under claims of maritime negligence. IMTT sought dismissal claiming that the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) was the exclusive option for the government to seek relief.

    Issue.

    Whether an appellate court may grant an interlocutory review if doing so does not advance litigation?

    Held.

    No. The order granting permission to appeal is vacated. The United States b. M/V Big Sam, 681 F. 2d 432 (5th Cir. 1982) ruling makes it evident that the government is free to pursue a negligence claim against the IMTT as well as the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA). An appellate decision would not advance litigation, nor would stop the claim from going to trial.

    Discussion.

    Under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b), an appellate court may not grant an interlocutory review if doing so does not advance litigation. The final judgment rule only permits final judgments to be appealed. A judge may also permit an interlocutory appeal if there is a question about controlling law and the appellate review would advance litigation.


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