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Interlocutory Appeals & Final Appealable Judgments

In Missouri, you can ordinarily only appeal trial court judgments which are “final.” Specifically, a final, appealable judgment is one that disposes of all issues and parties in a case, leaving nothing for future determination. Columbia Mut. Ins. Co. v. Epstein, 200 S.W.3d 547, 549 (Mo. Ct. App. 2006). There are a few noteworthy exceptions to this final judgment rule for appeals. One exception is “extraordinary relief” in the form of a writ, such as a writ of prohibition or mandamus. While this is not an appeal per se, it does provide an avenue for appellate court review of a trial court action. Writs, though, are rarely granted. Another exception in Missouri applies to interlocutory judgments. An interlocutory judgment, for purposes of this discussion, is when the Court enters a judgment on some claims in a case, but there are remaining claimsto be decided or litigated. 

Rule 74.01(b) permits the Court to enter judgment on a single claim in a case with multiple claims and to certify its interlocutory/partial jugment as appealable upon an express determination that “no just reason for delay exists.” Courts consider four factors in making this determination:  (1) whether the action remains pending as to all parties; (2) whether similar relief can be awarded in each separate count; (3) whether determination of the claims pending in the trial court would moot the clam being appealed; and (4) whether the factual underpinnings of all the claims are intertwined. Lynch v. Lynch, 966 S.W.2d 345, 347 (Mo. Ct. App. 1998). A distinct “judicial unit” – one that is differing, separate, distinct transactions or occurrences that permit a separately appealable judgment, not differing legal theories or issues presented for recovery on the same claim – may be certified for appeal. Gibson v. Brewer, 952 S.W.2d 239, 244 (Mo. 1997).