Rule 54(B), Ala. R. CIV. P., Finality of Judgment; Dismissal of Appeal - Blackmon v. Renasant Bank


Blackmon v. Renasant Bank, [Ms. 1150692, Mar. 17, 2017] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2017). The Court dismisses an appeal from the Madison Circuit Court in an action by Renasant Bank against a purported debtor and the estate of her deceased husband for money allegedly owed under a home equity line of credit upon concluding that the circuit court’s Rule 54(b), Ala. R. Civ. P., order was not sufficiently final to support the appeal.

Rule 54(b) states, in relevant part:

“When more than one claim for relief is presented in an action, whether as a claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim, or when multiple parties are involved, the court may direct the entry of a final judgment as to one or more but fewer than all of the claims or parties only upon an express determination that there is no just reason for delay and upon an express direction for the entry of judgment.”

“[F]or a Rule 54(b) certification of finality to be effective, it must fully adjudicate at least one claim or fully dispose of the claims as they relate to at least one party.” Ms. *7-8, quoting Scrushy v. Tucker, 955 So. 2d 988, 996 (Ala. 2006).

Here, the circuit court entered judgment in favor of the bank and against the debtor and her deceased husband’s estate on the basis of the bank’s unjust-enrichment and money-had-and-received claims while specifically stating that “[a]ll other counts asserted by the parties remain pending.” Ms. *5. Those other claims included “a claim seeking a judgment declaring that [the debtor] executed the agreement establishing a home-equity line of credit with Renasant Bank and a mortgage on [the debtor’s] house securing that line of credit; breach of contract; ‘equitable mortgage’; ‘open account’; ‘account stated’; unjust enrichment; money had and received; ‘quasi-contract’; and ‘constructive trust.’” Ms. *9-10. Under all of these separate theories, Renasant Bank sought the same damages, i.e., the amount owed under the home equity line of credit loan, interest, costs, and attorney’s fees. It follows that all Renasant’s several claims are actually just one claim which the circuit court’s partial summary judgment did not fully adjudicate. The requirement for Rule 54(b) finality was therefore not met, and would not support the appeal as it was from a non-final judgment.

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