McKUSICK, Chief Justice.
On its merits, this appeal seeks to resolve a controversy over two conflicting attachments on trustee process made against any "goods, effects, or credits" of principal defendant Emery in the hands of Portsmouth Savings Bank. In this action brought against Emery in the Maine District Court (Kittery), plaintiff Casco Bank & Trust Company caused trustee process to be served on Portsmouth Savings Bank on December 15, 1977. At the subsequent hearing to determine the amount, if any, for which Portsmouth Savings Bank should be charged as trustee, Indian Head National Bank as a third party claimant appeared and asserted that its trustee process served in a New Hampshire action on Portsmouth Savings Bank on December 9, 1977, was effective in reaching anything owed at any pertinent time by the trustee to Emery and left nothing unencumbered to be attached by Casco Bank's trustee process of December 15. The Maine District Court rejected Indian Head Bank's contention and entered a "judgment" holding Portsmouth Savings Bank chargeable on trustee process in Casco Bank's suit against Emery in the amount of $8,700.
Without waiting for any other action whatever in the District Court—principal defendant Emery has never answered, nor has his default been entered—Indian Head Bank appealed to the Superior Court, which reversed the District Court ruling.
Our cases have recognized a broad category of exceptions to the final judgment rule allowing appeals from collateral orders, interlocutory in nature, "in which the peculiar character of the question involved hardly admits of postponement [of appellate review], if any benefit is to be derived from it by the aggrieved party." Northeast Investment Co. v. Leisure Living Communities, Inc., Me., 351 A.2d 845, 848 (1976); Munsey v. Groves, 151 Me. 200, 117 A.2d 64 (1955). See Cohen v. Beneficial
The situation created in the case at bar by the District Court "judgment" holding the Portsmouth Savings Bank chargeable as trustee—as to which decision only the third party claimant objects—is entirely different and does not justify a further extension of the "collateral order" exception. The court is not concerned here, as it was in Northeast Investment, with the right of the principal defendant to protect his property from the restraints of attachment; defendant Emery has not appeared either in the District Court or in the appeal proceedings to assert any interest in the surplus proceeds from the Portsmouth Savings Bank's sale of the foreclosed real estate. Rather, this interlocutory appeal boils down to a dispute between Casco Bank and Indian Head Bank over the surplus fund which both have attempted to trustee. At most, the only conceivable harm to the third party claimant from postponing review until a final judgment is rendered in the principal action against Emery is that Indian Head Bank will have to wait to have the contested funds freed from Casco Bank's attachment.
In the circumstances of this appeal, all of the reasons behind the final judgment rule come into play. We have no way of knowing that the principal debt has not been paid off, has not been discharged in bankruptcy, or otherwise is not due and owing to Casco Bank, which has never proved its claim. We have no way of knowing whether a default will be entered against defendant Emery and even if so whether plaintiff Casco Bank will be in a position to file the affidavits required by M.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(1), (4) as prerequisites to entry of judgment in its favor. In other words, for all we know this court may never be called upon to decide the interlocutory question now sought to be presented. See Fidelity & Casualty Co. v. Bodwell Granite Co., 102 Me. 148, 66 A. 314 (1906); 2 Field, McKusick & Wroth, Maine Civil Practice § 73.1 (2d ed. 1970). Piecemeal appeals often turn out to be unnecessary appeals, and they always impose an additional burden upon the appellate courts. In the face of the Law Court's heavy caseload in the 1980s, the final judgment rule fashioned in the more leisurely appellate days of the turn of the century, see id., becomes a matter of more than preferred court procedure. It becomes an imperative in the proper marshalling of hardpressed court resources.
Judgment of the Superior Court vacated.
Remanded to the Superior Court for entry of an order dismissing the appeal by Indian Head National Bank to the Superior Court and remanding to the District Court for further proceedings.
Costs on appeal shall be allowed to Casco Bank & Trust Company.