Whether and when a judgment is or becomes final will govern when it becomes appealable, when post-judgment relief may become available or necessary and whether an appeal by way of an application for certification of an interlocutory appeal may be a necessary avenue to obtain review.
The date the judgment is entered upon the docket is the key date for determining when the time within which an appeal from a civil judgment, either interlocutory or final, must be taken begins to run.29 However, in the case of a final judgment so entered, its finality is provisional. If a timely motion for reargument or for a new trial or a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law is not filed within the time limit fixed by the rules for such motions, its finality as of the date of entry is confirmed, and the time within which an appeal must be filed runs from the date of entry of the judgment.30 If a timely motion for reargument or for a new trial or a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law is filed, the judgment loses its finality and cannot become final for purposes of appeal until all such motions have been decided.31
An interlocutory judgment rendered on fewer than all claims or in favor of fewer than all of the parties but which was not made final under the requirements of the applicable rule32 may be appealed within the time limits applicable to the final judgment when the final judgment is entered.33
Although an outstanding application for an award of attorney’s fees delays the finality of a judgment for appeal purposes, a pending motion for an award of costs does not delay the finality of a judgment on the merits.34
29. 10 Del. C. § 143; Supr. Ct. R. 6, 42(d)(i); Salomon, Inc. v. Stuart Petroleum Co., 567 A.2d 402 (Del. 1989); Scott v. Draper, 371 A.2d 1073 (Del. 1977); Security Storage Co. v. Weiss, 280 A.2d 534 (Del. 1971).
30. Because the rules as to these motions prohibit extension of the time limit to file, a motion to extend the time limit and an order granting the motion are a nullity insofar as the finality of the judgment is concerned. Fisher v. Biggs, 284 A.2d 117, 118 (Del. 1971); Preform Bldg. Components, Inc. v. Edwards, 280 A.2d 697, 698 (Del. 1971).
31. Katcher v. Martin, 597 A.2d 352, 353 (Del, 1991); Linda D.P. v. Robert J.P., 493 A.2d 968, 969 (Del. 1985); Preform Bldg. Components, Inc. v. Edwards, 280 A.2d 697, 698 (Del. 1971); Hessler, Inc. v. Farrell, 260 A.2d 701, 702 (Del. 1969); Trowell v. Diamond Supply Co., 91 A.2d 797, 801 (Del. 1952).
32. See § 28:4.
33. 10 Del. C. § 144; Harrison v. Ramunno, 730 A.2d 653, 653-54 (Del. 1999); Shellburne, Inc. v. Roberts, 238 A.2d 331, 335 (Del. 1967). Cf. Coaxial Communications, Inc. v. CNA Financial Corp., 367 A.2d 994, 997 (Del. 1976).
34. Emerald Partners v. Berlin, 811 A.2d 788, 791 (Del. 2001).
© 2010 David L. Finger