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RULE 59.1 - DISPOSITION OF POST-JUDGMENT MOTIONS - EX PARTE LIMERICK

In Ex parte Limerick, [Ms. 1091783, Jan. 7, 2011] __ So. 3d __(Ala. 2011), the Alabama Supreme Court held that under Rule 59.1 of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure, the trial court did not have jurisdiction to rule on the plaintiff's motion for new trial. The case arose from injuries suffered by the plaintiff's in an automobile accident with the defendant. The jury returned a verdict for the defendant, and the trial court entered a consistent judgment. Thereafter, the plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial. The hearing for the motion was originally set within 90 days of its filing. However, at the request of the plaintiffs, the trial court continued the motion to the 91st day after it was filed. The trial court granted the motion on the 95th day after it was filed. Because the parties never filed a written stipulation extending the time for the trial court to rule on the motion, the Alabama Supreme Court concluded that, pursuant to Rule 59.1, the motion for new trial was deemed denied on the 91st day after it was filed, and as a result, the trial court did not have jurisdiction to rule on the motion. NOTE: While not mentioned in Limerick, an appellate court to which an appeal of a judgment would lie may also extend the time for a trial court to rule on a motion for new trial. ALA. R. CIV. P. 59.1 (2010); see also Ex parte Jackson Hosp. & Clinic, Inc., 2010 WL 1526116, *2-3 (Ala. Apr. 16, 2010)(holding that trial court's written order granting plaintiff's motion to vacate judgment, which was entered more than 90 days after the motion was filed, was void because the parties had not filed a written stipulation extending the time for the trial court to rule on the motion and the Alabama Supreme Court had not extended the time for the trial court to rule on the motion).

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