7th Circuit Identifies Rules On Appealability Of Contempt Orders

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals recently stated the rules regarding civil contempt orders are appealable interlocutory orders. The court ruled:

• “An order holding a litigant in contempt of court is not appealable while the litigation continues.”
• Resolution [of the contempt order] must await the final decision in the litigation. When the disobeyed order would be independently appealable under an exception to the final-decision rule, then the contempt citation also may be appealable.”
• “We say ‘may be’ rather than ‘is’ because this is an example of pendent appellate jurisdiction and, as Rimsat [v. Hilliard, 98 F.3d 956 (7th Cir. 1996)] recognized, that doctrine is shaky after Swint v. Chambers County Commission,” 514 U.S. 35 (1995).

In this case, the district court entered a permanent injunction, which resolved the case, while the interlocutory appeal over the contempt order was pending. The premature appeal of the contempt order became effective under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(2).

Review the entire opinion in S.E.C. v. McNamee, No. 06-2150 (3/8/07), by clicking here.