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NON-FINAL JUDGMENTS - JAKEMAN V. LAWRENCE GROUP MANAGEMENT CO., LLC

In Jakeman v. Lawrence Group Management Co., LLC, [Ms. 1100290, Oct. 7, 2011] __ So. 3d __(Ala. 2011), the Alabama Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because it was from a non-final judgment. In the opinion, the Court reiterated some important appellate procedural rules. In the trial court, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's claims. The trial court conducted a hearing on the motion to dismiss on July 28, 2010 and announced on the record its intention to dismiss the claims. On August 1, 2010, the trial court signed an order dismissing both the original claims and the cross claims in the case. On August 2, 2010, one of the original defendants filed a post judgment motion pursuant to Rule 59(e) seeking to alter, amend, or vacate the order on the ground that the trial court improperly dismissed her cross-claim. The original August 1, 2010 order was not entered by the clerk of the trial court until September 17, 2010. On October 14, 2010, Plaintiff filed a Rule 59(e) motion as well. On November 29, 2010, the trial court entered an "Amended Order" affirming its dismissal of Plaintiff's claims but reinstating all of the co-defendant's cross claims. Plaintiff filed a notice of appeal on the same date. The Court held that the co-defendant's Rule 59 motion, although filed prematurely, was deemed filed on the same date that the clerk entered the trial court's original judgment D i.e., September 17, 2010. The Court held that the 90-day period that the trial court had before the co-defendant's motion was deemed denied by operation of law did not begin running until the day the entry of the original judgment was entered by the clerk of the trial court and the co-defendant's motion "quickened into a proper postjudgment motion." Therefore, the trial court retained jurisdiction to rule on the co-defendant's motion through December 17, 2010 and its November 29, 2010 amended order reinstating the cross claims was effective. The Alabama Supreme Court held that because the co-defendant's cross-claims were still pending and the appeal was not accompanied by a Rule 54(b) certification, the Plaintiff's appeal was from a non-final judgment and therefore the Court did not have subject matter jurisdiction to consider it.

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