Can an appellate court review a denial of summary judgment when the party failed to appeal the denial before trial or failed to renew a motion for judgment as a matter of law after the jury verdict?
After being assaulted while serving time in a federal prison, Michelle Ortiz sued two prison guards for constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The district court denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment based on a defense of qualified immunity, and the case went to trial. A jury returned a verdict in favor of Ortiz, but the Sixth Circuit reversed on the basis of qualified immunity. Ortiz argues that the Sixth Circuit did not have jurisdiction to hear an appeal based on qualified immunity because the issue, originally raised on summary judgment, was not preserved for appeal after final judgment was entered at trial. Jordan argues that by filing a motion for summary judgment, the issue was preserved. The Supreme Court’s decision in this case will give guidance to litigants on how to preserve for appeal an issue that was the subject of a denied summary judgment motion.
Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties
May a party appeal an order denying summary judgment after a full trial on the merits if the party chose not to appeal the order before trial?
Petitioner Michelle Ortiz (“Ortiz”) is a former prisoner of the Ohio Reformatory for Women. While in prison for stabbing her abusive husband, Ortiz was sexually assaulted by prison guard Douglas Schultz (“Schultz”) on two consecutive days: November 8 and November 9, 1996. The day after the first assault, Ortiz spoke with Paula Jordan (“Jordan”), acting case manager of the prison. Jordan said that it was Schultz’s last day at the prison, and that Ortiz should simply stay around other inmates so that Schultz wouldn’t hav