Arbitration - Appellate Jurisdiction - Finality


Aurora Healthcare, Inc., et al. v. Ramsey, [Ms. 1160659, July 27, 2018] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2018). This unanimous decision by Justice Mendheim dismisses the nursing home’s appeal from an order on its motion to compel arbitration. The Jefferson Circuit Court’s order concluded that the plaintiff had established a question of fact on the validity of the arbitration agreement purportedly signed by her on November 26, 2003. Ms. *9. The circuit court also ruled that in any event, if valid, the arbitration agreement’s effect was not retroactive to November 7 when the plaintiff’s mother was originally admitted to the nursing home. Ms. *10.

The Court dismissed the nursing home’s appeal because “[i]f the jury concludes that the arbitration agreement is not valid, however, the retroactive enforcement issue becomes moot.” Ms. *16. The Court held that “the defendants here seek relief from the harm they have not yet suffered because there has been no definitive determination that the arbitration agreement is valid and therefore enforceable.” Ms. *20.

The Court also dismissed the plaintiff’s cross-appeal from the circuit court’s order denying her motion for summary judgment as to the validity of the arbitration agreement. The Court held “an order denying a motion for summary judgment is inherently non-final and cannot be made final by a Rule 54(b) certification.” Ms. *22 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

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