On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, D.C. Civil No. 87-5091.
Sloviter, Becker and Weis, Circuit Judges.
This appeal arises out of an action by plaintiff/appellant Daniel Mondrow, the purchaser of two units in a limited partnership for the purchase and operation of an apartment house, against Fountain House, the limited partnership, and Bernard Waters, a general partner, alleging that defendants violated various state and federal securities laws. Defendants have asserted a counterclaim on a note executed by Mondrow.
At the close of Mondrow's case, the district court granted defendants' motion for a directed verdict on all on Mondrow's claims. The district court also directed a verdict for defendants on their counterclaim. Judgment was entered on April 18, 1988. On appeal, Mondrow contends that the district court erred because there was sufficient evidence to take his case to the jury. Because we conclude that we do not have jurisdiction, we do not reach the merits of this appeal.
The court's order for a directed verdict judgment in favor of defendants in Mondrow's action and against Mondrow on the counterclaim was entered on the docket on April 18, 1988. On April 29, 1988, Mondrow filed a motion for a new trial pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59, which was served the same day. On June 17, 1988, while this motion was still pending, plaintiff filed a notice of appeal.
The district court never decided the April 29 motion. Instead, the court, in a memorandum opinion dated August 22, 1988, stated that "[b]ecause of the pendency of the appeal, no action will be taken on the outstanding motions." On October 17, 1988, the district court issued an order declaring the outstanding Rule 59 motion moot.
Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(4) provides, in pertinent part:
(4) If a timely motion under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is filed in the district court by any party: . . . (iv) under Rule 59 for a new trial, the time for appeal for all parties shall run from the entry of the order denying a new trial or granting or denying any other such motion. A notice of appeal filed before the deposition of any of the above motions shall have no effect. A new notice of appeal must be filled within the prescribed time measured from the entry of the order deposing of the motion as provided above.
Applying this rule, the Supreme Court has stated that a notice of appeal filed during the pendency of a post-trial motion is "a nullity . . . . It is as if no notice of appeal were filed at all." Griggs v. Provident Consumer Discount Co., 459 U.S. 56, 61, 74 L. Ed. 2d 225, 103 S. Ct. 400 (1982). Absent a properly filed notice of appeal, this court cannot assume jurisdiction. Thus, if the notice of appeal in this case was filed before the district court ruled on a timely Rule 59 ...