Brief Fact Summary. The Hallocks’ computer software was destroyed by Government agents during an investigation, and was subsequently bared from bringing suit against the Government and the agents for these torts.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A court of appeals may only review collateral orders if; the court conclusively determines the disputed question, they can resolve an important issue completely separate from the merits of the action, and that issue is effectively un-reviewable on appeal from a final judgment.
Issue. Whether refusal to apply the judgment bar of the Federal Tort Claims Act is open to a collateral appeal.
Held. No. The Court of Appeals has the authority to review all final decisions of the district court. Also the Court of appeals has jurisdiction of a narrow class of decisions that are sufficiently important and collateral to the merits that they should nonetheless by treated as final, this is the collateral order doctrine. In this instance the court felt the Court of appeals erred in finding it had jurisdiction to hear this issue. The Collateral order doctrine can only be used if; the court conclusively determines the disputed question, they can resolve an important issue completely separate from the merits of the action, and that issue is effectively un-reviewable on appeal from a final judgment. This court refuses to broaden the scope of this doctrine. Doing so would destroy the finality in judgment rule. The judgment bar works much like a collateral estoppel defense. The court of appeals will not entertain a review of every defensive attempt to avoid litigation.
Discussion. This court states that only in certain circumstances immunity decisions are immediately reviewable, only those that avoidance of trial would imperil a substantial public interest i.e. double jeopardy and 11th amendment immunity.