Appellate Courts Increasingly Affirm Trial Court Decisions to Dismiss Lawsuits
October 2018

A current trend in the federal and Nevada appellate courts brings to mind the 1988 fight between Michael Spinks and the reigning heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson. Both were undefeated. It was then the richest fight in history, grossing $70 million, funded largely by pay-per-view fees from over 600,000 households. But the spectacle ended quickly. Tyson knocked out Spinks halfway into the first round, in just 91 seconds. (A fight that “goes the distance” to a decision lasts 36 minutes over 12 rounds.) During his career, Tyson won eight fights in less than a minute.

In litigation, cases are dispatched with analogous speed when the trial judge grants a defendant’s motion to dismiss the complaint, ending the case in a couple months, rather than several years. Dismissal orders (like first-round knockouts) happen rarely, however. And even when trial judges grant dismissal, appellate courts frequently reverse and remand the cases back to the trial court for further litigation.

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