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Ramos-Santiago v. WHM Carib, LLC

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

March 22, 2019

VÍCTOR RAMOS-SANTIAGO, ET AL., Plaintiffs, Appellants,
v.
WHM CARIB, LLC, ET AL., Defendants, Appellees, JEFF WILLENBERG, ET AL., Defendants.

          APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO HON. SALVADOR E. CASELLAS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

          Miguel A. Suro Carrasco, with whom Jorge Miguel Suro Ballester and Suro & Suro were on brief, for appellants.

          Shiara L. Diloné Fernández, with whom Carl Schuster, Andrés C. Gorbea Del Valle, and Schuster Aguiló LLC were on brief, for appellees.

          Before Torruella, Lipez, and Barron, Circuit Judges.

          LIPEZ, Circuit Judge.

         Appellants Víctor Ramos-Santiago ("Ramos-Santiago"), his daughter Maryam Ramos-Meléndez and four minor grandchildren (hereinafter referred to collectively as "Ramos-Santiago"), filed this suit under Puerto Rico law, premised on diversity jurisdiction, against Ramos-Santiago's former employer and its insurance carrier.[1] In the complaint, Ramos-Santiago alleges unjust dismissal and age discrimination in employment, and his family asserts derivative tort claims arising from the alleged age discrimination.[2]

         The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants[3] on Ramos-Santiago's discrimination claim and the family's derivative tort claims, denied summary judgment on the unjust dismissal claim, and denied Ramos-Santiago's cross-motion for summary judgment. Ramos-Santiago then filed a motion for reconsideration, which the district court denied. The parties subsequently settled the unjust dismissal claim.

         On appeal, Ramos-Santiago challenges the partial entry of summary judgment in favor of Defendants, the denial of his motion for summary judgment, and the denial of his motion for reconsideration. After careful consideration, we affirm.

         I.

         We must address a preliminary jurisdictional issue. Ramos-Santiago filed his notice of appeal after the district court's entry of partial summary judgment but prior to its entry of final judgment. Ramos-Santiago's notice of appeal was therefore premature, and Wyndham has questioned our jurisdiction to entertain this appeal.

         A. The History of the Proceedings

         On March 14, 2017, the district court issued an opinion and order granting partial summary judgment to Wyndham. Ramos-Santiago filed a motion for reconsideration, which the district court denied on March 23, 2017. On April 7, 2017, the court, noting the likelihood of settlement of the unjust dismissal claim, entered an order, labeled "judgment," closing the case for "administrative purposes," and stating that the case would be reopened for a final judgment after the parties settled the remaining claim.

         On April 28, 2017, Ramos-Santiago advised the court that the parties had settled the unjust dismissal claim. He also informed the court of his intent to appeal the court's disposition of his other claims:

Due to the Judgment [entered April 7] and in an abundance of caution, the plaintiffs will file a Notice of Appeal today, subject to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(2).

         That same day, Ramos-Santiago filed a notice of appeal. A week after the notice was filed, on May 3, 2017, the district court entered a final judgment dismissing all claims with prejudice. Subsequently, on May 11, 2017, the court issued a new, lengthy memorandum and order, again denying Ramos-Santiago's motion for reconsideration and modifying and superseding the court's previous order. See Ramos-Santiago v. WHM Carib, LLC, No. CV 14-1087 (SEC), 2017 WL 2062857, at *7 (D.P.R. May 11, 2017) (stating additional reasons for the failure of Ramos-Santiago's "pretext" argument). Ramos-Santiago did not appeal from either the final judgment or the superseding order.

         B. Rule 4(a)(2) and ...


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