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54(b) Certification - Piecemeal Appellate Review

Wright v. Harris, [Ms. 1171031, Feb. 15, 2019] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2019). This unanimous decision dismisses the plaintiff’s appeal from a summary judgment entered by the Cleburne Circuit Court in favor of nurses employed by the Cleburne County Hospital. The circuit court had entered summary judgment for the nurses concluding that the plaintiff failed to present substantial evidence of duty, breach, or proximate cause. Ms. *4. The circuit court stayed all proceedings on the plaintiff’s claims against the hospital and certified the judgment dismissing the claims against the nurses under Rule 54(b). Ms. *6.

In dismissing the appeal, the Court reiterated that

“‘[t]his court looks with some disfavor upon certifications under Rule 54(b),’ ... and that Rule 54(b) certifications should be entered only in exceptional cases. ... Because the ‘claim that remains pending in the trial court presents issues that are ‘intertwined’ with the issues presented in the claim[s] certified as final pursuant to Rule 54(b),’ Smith v. Slack Alost Dev. Servs. of Alabama, LLC, 32 So. 3d 556, 562 (Ala. 2009), we conclude that the trial court exceeded its discretion in certifying the summary judgment in favor of the nurses as a final judgment pursuant to Rule 54(b).” Ms. *18 (some internal citations and brackets omitted).

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