When is a judgment not a judgment (for purposes of appeal)? When it fails to encompass complete relief between the parties. If you didn’t find that joke funny, imagine if you were Alfonse Castaldi. His appeal was dismissed sua sponte by California’s Fifth District Court of Appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction, despite the court’s fairly evident belief that the trial court had committed reversible error.
In Baker v. Castaldi, Case No. F067687, plaintiff Ken Baker sued Therese and Alfonse Castaldi for alleged conversion of personal property, seeking compensatory and punitive damages. The trial court held a trial on liability commencing March 25, 2013. The case then proceeded through a fairly tortured procedural history, including a series of injunctions and other interim orders, to a statement of decision and nominal “Judgment” on May 20, 2013, finding for Mr. Baker in the amount of $610,500.
In its May 20 Judgment, the court also found that the Castaldis had acted with malice and oppression, justifying an award of punitive damages. The defendants filed notices of appeal from the May 20 Judgment on July 2.