Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54
Rule 54. Judgment; Costs
(a) DEFINITION; FORM. ‘‘Judgment’’ as used in these rules includes a decree and any order from which an appeal lies. A judgment should not include recitals of pleadings, a master’s report, or a record of prior proceedings.
(b) JUDGMENT ON MULTIPLE CLAIMS OR INVOLVING MULTIPLE PARTIES. When an action presents more than one claim for relief— whether as a claim, counterclaim, crossclaim, or third-party claim—or when multiple parties are involved, the court may direct entry of a final judgment as to one or more, but fewer than all, claims or parties only if the court expressly determines that there is no just reason for delay. Otherwise, any order or other decision, however designated, that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties does not end the action as to any of the claims or parties and may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties’ rights and liabilities.
(c) DEMAND FOR JUDGMENT; RELIEF TO BE GRANTED. A default judgment must not differ in kind from, or exceed in amount, what is demanded in the pleadings. Every other final judgment should grant the relief to which each party is entitled, even if the party has not demanded that relief in its pleadings.
(d) COSTS; ATTORNEY’S FEES.
(1) Costs Other Than Attorney’s Fees. Unless a federal statute, these rules, or a court order provides otherwise, costs—other than attorney’s fees—should be allowed to the prevailing party. But costs against the United States, its officers, and its agencies may be imposed only to the extent allowed by law. The clerk may tax costs on 14 days’ notice. On motion served within the next 7 days, the court may review the clerk’s action.(2) Attorney’s Fees.
(A) Claim to Be by Motion. A claim for attorney’s fees and
related nontaxable expenses must be made by motion unless the substantive law requires those fees to be proved at trial as an element of damages.
(B) Timing and Contents of the Motion. Unless a statute or a court order provides otherwise, the motion must:
(i) be filed no later than 14 days after the entry of judgment;
(ii) specify the judgment and the statute, rule, or other grounds entitling the movant to the award;
(iii) state the amount sought or provide a fair estimate of it; and
(iv) disclose, if the court so orders, the terms of any agreement about fees for the services for which the claim is made.
(C) Proceedings. Subject to Rule 23(h), the court must, on a party’s request, give an opportunity for adversary submissions on the motion in accordance with Rule 43(c) or 78. The court may decide issues of liability for fees before re- ceiving submissions on the value of services. The court must find the facts and state its conclusions of law as provided in Rule 52(a).
(D) Special Procedures by Local Rule; Reference to a Master or a Magistrate Judge. By local rule, the court may establish special procedures to resolve fee-related issues without extensive evidentiary hearings. Also, the court may refer issues concerning the value of services to a special master under Rule 53 without regard to the limitations of Rule 53(a)(1), and may refer a motion for attorney’s fees to a magistrate judge under Rule 72(b) as if it were a dispositive pretrial matter.
(E) Exceptions. Subparagraphs (A)–(D) do not apply to claims for fees and expenses as sanctions for violating these rules or as sanctions under 28 U.S.C. § 1927.
- When a district court enters a judgment the court ends the trial phase of a case, or a claim within the case.
- Remember, in the United States, we can have multiple claims and multiple litigants (e.g., look at Rule 20). Rule 54 allows a judge to enter a final judgment on one claim and to allow the other claims to continue. Once judgment is entered on a claim, the losing party can appeal without waiting for rest of the claims to be decided.
- Also, note that as a general rule, prevailing parties in the United States do not automatically win their attorney’s fees.