Brief Fact Summary. The Petitioner, Gillespie (Petitioner), administratrix of her decedent son’s estate brought suit against the Respondent, United States Steel Corp. (Respondent), for his death. The District Court dismissed some of the Petitioner’s claims and she petitioned the Court of Appeals for a writ of mandamus. The Court of Appeals heard the case, though a final decision in the lower court had not been reached.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Pre-trial appeals may be made on non-final issues if the trial judge, in his discretion, certifies a question of controlling law to the appellate court and the appellate court allows the appeal.
The District Court held that the Jones Act was the only act on which the Petitioner could proceed with her claims. The District Court also struck the claims of the brother and sisters, holding that they were not beneficiaries under the Jones Act while their mother was living.
The Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals and the Respondent moved to dismiss the appeal asserting that the District Court had not made a final decision. The Petitioner, joined by the brother and sisters filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for a writ of mandamus ordering the District Judge to vacate his original order and enter a new one. The Court of Appeals proceeded to determine the controversy on the merits as though it were submitted on appeal and denied the petition for the writ and affirmed the District Court’s order.
Issue. Whether the Court of Appeals decision to hear a controversy that was marginally final and appealable was correct.
Held. In light of the circumstances, the Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) believed the Court of Appeals properly implemented the same policy Congress sought to promote in Section:1292(b) by treating this obviously marginal case as final and appealable.
The statute creates three specific classes of beneficiaries: 1 the surviving widow or husband and children of such employee, and, if none, then 2 of such employee's parents; and, if none, then 3 of the next of kin dependent upon such employee.View Full Point of Law