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Section 43-2-354, Ala. Code 1975, Appeal From Probate Court To Circuit Court: Alabama Medicaid Agency V. Brooks

Alabama Medicaid Agency v. Brooks, [Ms. 2170286, Mar. 16, 2018] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2018). The Court of Civil Appeals (Moore, J., Pittman, Thomas, and Donaldson, JJ., concur; Thompson, P.J., dissents) reverses a judgment of the Marshall Circuit Court dismissing an appeal by the Alabama Medicaid Agency from a judgment of the Marshall Probate Court that denied its claim against the estate of a decedent. The court rejected the estate's argument that the agency's notice of appeal was defective because it was filed electronically in violation of Rule 5, Ala. R. Civ. P., and the Administrative Policies and Procedures for Electronic Filing in the Civil Divisions of the Alabama Unified Judicial System. Rather, relying upon the express language of § 43-2-354, Ala. Code 1975 (the statute providing that a party aggrieved by a judgment of a probate court regarding a disputed claim against an estate may appeal to the circuit court for a trial de novo), the court holds that merely giving notice of the commencement of a new and independent suit, the equivalent of the filing of a complaint under Rule 3(a), Ala. R. Civ. P., is sufficient to perfect such an appeal from probate court to circuit court and to invoke the appellate jurisdiction of the circuit court. Further, "[u]nlike a 'notice of appeal,' a complaint may be filed electronically." Ms. *7.

Because the agency's electronic filing gave notice of its intention to commence a new action in the circuit court, it met the requirement for filing an appeal sufficient to invoke the circuit court's jurisdiction.

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