RULE 59.1 REQUIRES WRITTEN OPINION AND ORDER - EX PARTE JACKSON HOSPITAL & CLINIC, INC.
In Ex parte Jackson Hospital & Clinic, Inc., [Ms. 1090269, Apr. 16, 2010] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2010), the Alabama Supreme Court held that Rule 59.1 of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure requires a trial court to enter a written opinion and order on a postjudgment motion within 90 days to prevent that motion from being deemed denied by operation of law. Jackson Hospital filed a motion for summary judgment, which was set for a hearing on April 28, 2009. Plaintiff did not attend the hearing, but filed a response in opposition to Jackson Hospital's motion one hour after the hearing. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of Jackson Hospital on April 30, 2009. On June 2, 2009, Plaintiff filed a motion to vacate or to set aside the order entering the summary judgment. A hearing was held on July 20, 2009. Although disputed by Jackson Hospital, Plaintiff argued that the trial court entered an oral ruling at the July 20, 2009 hearing by saying "the issues presented were issue[s] to be tried by the jury." On October 5, 2009, the trial court entered a written order purporting to set aside the summary judgment. The Alabama Supreme Court held that, assuming it was made in the first place, an oral statement by the trial court was not sufficient to dispose of a pending postjudgment motion under Rule 59.1, which requires entry of a written opinion and order. Thus, the trial court's October 5, 2009 order was void because it lost jurisdiction after the running of the 90-day period prescribed by Rule 59.1.