Trial Court Without Power After Reversal Without Remand

In this procedurally complicated case, Draper and Kramer sued Dalan/Jupiter and Trammel Crow for breach of contract. Draper prevailed in a bench trial, but its judgment was reversed, without remand, on appeal.

Nonetheless, back in the trial court, Dalan moved for its attorney fees. The trial court concluded that it did not have jurisdiction to rule because Dalan filed the motion too late. Dalan then filed another lawsuit that requested the same attorney fees it expended defending the original lawsuit. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Draper and Kramer in that second lawsuit, ruling that the earlier denial of Dalan’s fee petition precluded the second lawsuit. Dalan appealed from that summary judgment.

The appellate court ruled that the trial court did not have jurisdiction even to consider Dalan’s petition for fees in the first case because the case had not been remanded from the appellate court. Thus, it did not have power to rule that Dalan’s motion was untimely. The appellate court explained:

[W]here a judgment is reversed with no order remanding the case, “it cannot be reinstated in the court which entered the judgment from which the appeal was taken* * * ” (Emphasis added.) . . . In other words, following a reversal without remand, the trial court is not revested with jurisdiction over the case.

The appellate court ruled that Dalan’s lawsuit was precluded, but for reasons different from the trial court dismissal. You can read the whole case, Dalan/Jupiter v. Draper and Kramer, Nos. 1-06-1274, 1-06-2637 (3/30/07), by clicking here.