There has long been confusion over whether the McAuslan Doctrine should be invoked in the context of a direct appeal or a petition for writ of certiorari. While the Rhode Island Supreme Court did not directly address that issue in Weeks v. 735 Putnam Pike Operations, LLC, No. 2012-356-Appeal, its decision strongly suggests that the doctrine may be invoked in the context of a direct appeal.
In Weeks, the defendant argued that the plaintiff’s appeal was interlocutory in nature and should be dismissed because the plaintiff chose to file a direct appeal instead of filing a petition for writ of certiorari. Id. at 3-4. Although recognizing that as a general rule, appeals from interlocutory orders are not permitted, the Supreme Court noted that interlocutory appeals are permitted if they all within the McAuslan Doctrine. Id. at 5. Under the McAuslan Doctrine, the Court will permit appellate review of “an order or decree which, although in a strict sense interlocutory, does possess such an element of finality that action is called for before the case is finally terminated in order to prevent clearly imminent and irreparable harm.” Id. (quoting Town of Lincoln v. Cournoyer, 375 A.2d 410, 412-13 (R.I. 1977). If the Court deems the appeal appropriate under McAuslan, it will treat it as a final order. Id.
Applying the McAuslan Doctrine, the Court held that although the trial justice’s order directing the parties to resolve their dispute through binding arbitration was interlocutory in nature, the plaintiff’s appeal was proper under McAuslan. Id.