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Magistrate Judge Must Have Jurisdiction Prior to Entering Final Judgment

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals allowed an appeal to continue to the briefing stage after concluding that “all parties had consented to proceeding before the magistrate judge by the time he entered a final judgment dismissing the entire action.”

Before the appellate court was an appeal brought by Wisconsin prisoner Anderson DaSilva. While held at the Waupan Correctional Institution, DaSilva become “dizzy, vomited, lost consciousness, and fell, hitting his head on the way down” after receiving his medication one evening. He believed the incident occurred because he was given the wrong meds.

More than three hours passed before DaSilva was taken to a hospital located five minutes from the prison. At the hospital, “doctors stapled a deep laceration and diagnosed a serious concussion.”

DaSilva sued a guard named “Coby” who gave him the medication, as well as Captain Rymarkiewicz and Nurse De­Young, alleging violations of the Eighth Amendment. During the initial screening process, DaSilva agreed to let a magistrate judge conduct all proceedings. The magistrate dismissed the guard from the case, finding “Coby’s distribution of the medication was nothing more than a mistake, which fails as a matter of law to reflect deliberate indifference.”

After Rymarkiewicz and DeYoung were served with the complaint, discovery proceeded and they subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted. DaSilva appealed. The Seventh Circuit wrote that before proceeding with the appeal “we must assure ourselves that the district court has issued a final judgment,” to ensure it had jurisdiction.

At issue was whether Coby had an opportunity to accept or reject the magistrate’s jurisdiction at the screening stage. His dismissal from the case was an interlocutory order, and following that order the two remaining defendants consented to the magistrate judge’s jurisdiction.

On April 24, 2018, the Seventh Circuit Court held it was “significant that Coby was a prison employee who stood in exactly the same position as the other two defendants for purposes of legal representation.” Further, the Assistant Attorney General’s appearance form stated she “appears as counsel for Defendants in the ... action.”

That indicated Coby fell within the scope of the state’s representation and the subsequent consent to the magistrate’s jurisdiction in the case.

Thus, the magistrate judge had consent from all parties prior to entering a final judgment dismissing the action, which gave the Seventh Circuit jurisdiction over DaSilva’s appeal. Accordingly, the case was scheduled for briefing. See: DaSilva v. Rymarkiewicz, 888 F.3d 321 (7th Cir. 2018). 


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Related legal case

DaSilva v. Rymarkiewicz