United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division
the Court is Defendant Dr. Paul J. Syribeys' motion for
entry of final judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
54(b) and Local Rule 7.1(a), S.D. Ga. (Doc. No. 93.) The
Court granted Dr. Syribeys' motion to dismiss on March 8,
2019 and dismissed him from the case. For the reasons set
forth below, Dr. Syribeys' Rule 54(b) motion is
Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) allows the district court to
enter final judgment on fewer than all claims or parties in a
civil case. Ebrahimi v. City of Huntsville Bd. of
Educ, 114 F.3d 162, 165 (11th Cir. 1997); Lloyd
Noland Found., Inc. v. Tenet Health Care Corp., 483 F.3d
773, 777 (11th Cir. 2007). District courts should employ a
two-step analysis to enter a final partial judgment under
Rule 54(b). Lloyd Noland Found., 483 F.3d at 777.
First, the district court must decide whether its judgment
is, in fact, both "final" and a
"judgment." Id. (citing Curtiss-Wright
Corp. v. General Elec. Co., 446 U.S. 1, 7 (1980)).
"It must be a judgment in the sense that it is a
decision upon a cognizable claim for relief, and it must be
final in the sense that it is `an ultimate disposition of an
individual claim entered in the course of a multiple claims
action.'" Curtiss-Wright Corp., 446 U.S. at
7 (quoting Sears, Roebuck & Co. v. Mackey, 351
U.S. 427, 436 (1956)).
because `` ` [n]ot all final judgments on individual claims
should be immediately appealable, '" the district
court must determine that "there is no `just reason for
delay.'" Lloyd Nolan Found., 483 F.3d at
777 (quoting Curtiss-Wright Corp., 446 U.S. at 8) .
Here, the district court balances judicial administrative
interests with the relative equitable concerns.
Ebrahimi, 114 F.3d at 165-66 (citing
Curtiss-Wright Corp., 446 U.S. at 8). Consideration
of judicial administrative interests is necessary to
"preserve the historic federal policy against
piecemeal appeals." Id. at 166 (quoting
Sears, 351 U.S. at 438). Analyzing the relevant
equities ensures Rule 54(b) certification is limited to
situations where immediate appeal is necessary to
"alleviate some danger of hardship or injustice
associated with delay." Id.
case brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the United
States Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation
(``R & R") on January 9, 2019, addressing Dr.
Syribeys' motion to dismiss. As explained in the R &
R, the incident allegedly involving Dr. Syribeys began when
Plaintiff's cellmate at Dodge State Prison bit off his
right ear on May 10, 2016. Plaintiff was taken to Dr.
Syribeys, who told him that he could not reattach the ear.
Plaintiff alleged that the decision not to reattach his ear
was ``an easier but much less effective course of
treatment." Dr. Syribeys performed surgery on
Plaintiff's right ear. The R & R explains in some
detail the complications that Plaintiff had after the surgery
and the alleged deliberate indifference to his medical
condition Plaintiff allegedly suffered at the hands of prison
officials at Dodge State Prison.
Plaintiff was transferred to Augusta State Medical Prison in
July 2016. After having a second ear surgery scheduled and
postponed three times, a second reconstructive surgery was
performed on October 7, 2017.
filed this lawsuit on March 14, 2018, asserting several
claims against various defendants based upon the initial
attack of his cellmate and the follow-up medical treatment.
Following a frivolity review, the Court allowed a claim of
deliberate indifference to a serious medical need related to
the decision not to reattach the ear to proceed against Dr.
Syribeys and others. On October 19, 2018, Dr. Syribeys moved
to dismiss the claim based upon Plaintiff's failure to
exhaust administrative remedies.
& R concluded that Plaintiff failed to assert the factual
basis for a deliberate indifference claim against Dr.
Syribeys and the others involved in the first ear surgery.
Specifically, while Plaintiff complained about the follow-up
care he received after the first surgery, he did not mention
anything about the decision not to reattach his ear because
of the expense. Accordingly, the R & R recommends
dismissal of any deliberate indifference claim arising out of
the decisions associated with the first ear surgery. In
accordance with this recommendation, Dr. Syribeys and the
others were dismissed from the lawsuit on March 8, 2019.
Other deliberate indifference claims remain, however, against
other defendants particularly as they relate to the May 10,
2016 attack and the delay in medical care Plaintiff allegedly
suffered at Augusta State Medical Prison. Dr. Syribeys was
not involved in any of the events underlying the remaining
14, 2019, Dr. Syribeys filed the instant Rule 54(b) motion,
stating that he wishes to be free from the necessity of
"monitoring continuing litigation in a matter from which
he has been dismissed." (Doc. No. 93, at 6.) Plaintiff
has not filed a timely response.
to the merits, the Court first finds that the decision to
dismiss Dr. Syribeys for failure to exhaust administrative
remedies was both final and a judgment in his favor. That is,
the dismissal is the ultimate disposition of the deliberate
indifference claim levied against him.
the Court must determine if there is no ``just reason to `
delay" the certification of this judgment. The United
States Supreme Court has declined to "fix or sanction
narrow guidelines for the district courts to follow"
under this second prong. Curtiss-Wright Corp., 446
U.S. at 10-11, cited in Griggs v. Holt, 2019 WL
1903402, *2 (S.D. Ga. Apr. 29, 2019) (Hall, J.). Factors to
be considered, however, include "whether the claims
under review were separable from the others remaining to be
adjudicated and whether the nature of the claims already
determined was such that no appellate court would have to
decide the same issues more than once even if there were
subsequent appeals." Curtiss-Wright Corp., 446
U.S. at 8, cited in Griggs v. Holt 2019 WL 1903402,
*2. In this case, the adjudicated claim against Dr. Syribeys
is easily separable from the remaining claims against other
defendants in the lawsuit. The remaining claims involve
events in which Dr. Syribeys was not present. Moreover, the
legal determination that Plaintiff failed to exhaust
administrative remedies respecting the decision not to
surgically reattach his ear is entirely distinct from the
other remaining claims in the case. Further, while the Court
also reviewed whether Plaintiff properly exhausted the
administrative process with respect to his remaining claims
and found that he had, the relevant grievances are different.
The facts that must be developed to assess exhaustion
relative to the claim against Dr. Syribeys are distinct from
the facts that must be developed to assess exhaustion
relative to the initial attack and the second ear surgery at
Augusta State Medical Prison, even though the entire case
arises out of the single episode of an ear bite. As pointed
out in a recent decision out of this district, "district
courts routinely certify final judgments on the issue of
exhaustion of administrative remedies because that issue is
separable from other unresolved claims."
Griggs, 2019 WL 1903402, at *3 (citing illustrative
cases). Thus, certification of the judgment favoring Dr.
Syribeys does not offend the judicial administrative
interests of avoiding piecemeal appeals. Moreover, in
balancing the equities, the Court recognizes that there could
be an increased burden upon Plaintiff to litigate this case
while litigating an appeal, if he chooses to appeal the
exhaustion issue. However, requiring Dr. Syribeys and the
other dismissed Defendants to await the conclusion of this
case to gain ultimate finality (all the while monitoring its
progress) is equally burdensome to them.
on the foregoing, the motion for entry of final judgment
filed by Dr. Syribeys (doc. no. 93) is
GRANTED. Accordingly, IT IS
ORDERED that pursuant to Rule 54 (b) and in
the absence of any just reason for delay, the Clerk shall
ENTER JUDGMENT against Plaintiff and in
favor of Defendants Syribeys, Zanders, Sanders, Inman, and
Esmail in accordance with the Order of March 8, 2019
dismissing these Defendants.
Plaintiff wish to file an appeal within thirty (30) days of
entry of judgment, he must do so by filing a Notice of Appeal
in this district court with the filing fee of $400.00. The
Court recognizes that Plaintiff has been permitted to proceed
in forma pauperis in this case. However, the Court
hereby certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that
any appeal from the Order of March 8, 2019 and the resulting
Judgment would not be taken in good faith and therefore
Plaintiff may not proceed in forma pauperis on
appeal. See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438,
444-45 (1962) (finding that an appeal is not taken in good
faith if it is frivolous) .