SCOTUS Decides Dupree v. Younger Favorably for Defense Bar
By Melinda S. Kollross
The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled in Dupree v. Younger, No. 22-210, that parties who lost on purely legal issues on summary judgment do not need to renew those legal arguments after trial in order to appeal them. The contrary rule followed in many circuits created a trap for the unwary causing parties to lose the opportunity to appeal purely legal issues decided at summary judgment. Defendants were overwhelmingly adversely impacted by this trap because plaintiffs file motions for summary judgment far less frequently. This is a very favorable decision for the rule of law and the defense bar. The case is available at: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/22pdf/22-210_7mi8.pdf.
Despite this favorable ruling, we would still recommend that all such legal issues be raised in a post-trial motion because this is the prudent thing to do, as indicated by SCOTUS in its opinion:
Younger predicts that a separate preservation rule for legal issues will prove unworkable because the line between factual and legal questions can be “vexing” for courts and litigants. Pullman-Standard v. Swint, 456 U. S. 273, 288 (1982). That’s a fair concern, and it would not be surprising if “prudent counsel . . . make sure to renew their arguments in a Rule 50 motion” out of an abundance of caution.
It is also crucial to note that while Younger applies to trials in federal court, state preservation of error rules are often different. For example, in Illinois, all such issues legal or not, must be raised in a comprehensive post-trial motion following a jury trial, otherwise they will be forfeited for review. The crucial learning point here is to involve the services of an experienced appellate advocate at the post-trial phase, to insure that all errors are properly preserved for appeal.