Leave to Amend Complaint After Dismissal
Ghee v. USAble Mutual Ins. Co., [Ms. 1170249, May 24, 2019] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2019). A plurality of the Court (Stewart, J.; Parker, C.J., and Wise, J., concur; Bryan and Mendheim, JJ., concur in the result; Bolin, J., dissents; and Shaw, Sellers, and Mitchell, JJ., recuse) reverses an order of the Calhoun Circuit Court dismissing a wrongful death action brought against USAble Mutual Insurance Company (d/b/a Blue Advantage Administrators of Arkansas) (“Blue Advantage”).
In a prior appeal following the circuit court’s dismissal of the wrongful death claim against Blue Advantage based upon defensive ERISA preemption, the Court held that the circuit court’s Rule 54(b) certification was improper because a trial court “cannot purport to enter a final adjudication of the claim while making it possible for the plaintiff to revive that very claim.’” Ms. *12, quoting Ghee I, 253 So. 3d at 373. A day after the Supreme Court’s certificate of judgment was entered dismissing the prior appeal, the plaintiff moved for leave “to more precisely state in the complaint his state-law claim setting forth the allegations he presented in opposition to Blue Advantage’s motion to dismiss.” Ms. *12. The circuit court denied leave to amend and again dismissed the claim. Ibid.
The Court again reversed, holding that the trial court exceeded its discretion in refusing leave to amend, holding
This Court has previously recognized that under Rule 15 a plaintiff has the right to amend a complaint to remedy a defect after the trial court has entered an order of dismissal. Papastefan v. B & L Constr. Co. of Mobile, 356 So. 2d 158, 160 (Ala. 1978). Because the trial court determined that Ghee’s allegations against Blue Advantage as stated in the original complaint were defensively preempted by ERISA, Ghee should have had the right to amend his complaint to clarify his state-law claims.