Failure To Join Necessary Party


Capitol Farmers Market v. Delongchamp, [Ms. 1190103, Aug. 28, 2020] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2020). The Court (Bryan, J.; Parker, C.J., and Shaw, Mendheim, and Mitchell, JJ., concur) reverses a judgment of the Montgomery Circuit Court enforcing restrictive covenants requiring that the real property subject to the covenants not be subdivided into lots of less than five acres. Alfa, which was not a party to the declaratory judgment action, owned adjoining land that was also subject to the restrictive covenants. The Court sua sponte raised the effect of Plaintiff Delongchamp’s failure to join Alfa to her action seeking a declaration that the covenants were enforceable and restrained Capitol Farmers Market from subdividing its adjoining property into a high density residential subdivision. The Court holds

[A]s one of the parties determined by the circuit court to be an owner of the property restricted by the covenants in the 1982 Declaration, Alfa possesses an interest “relating to the subject of th[is] action and is so situated that the disposition of the action in [Alfa]’s absence may (i) as a practical matter impair or impede [Alfa]’s ability to protect that interest or (ii) leave [Delongchamp and Capitol Farmers Market] subject to a substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations by reason of the claimed interest.” Rule 19(a). At this time, we do not hold that Alfa is an indispensable party; we hold only that Alfa is a necessary party that should be joined, if feasible, in accordance with the requirements of Rule 19(a)…. Thus, we reverse the judgment and remand the cause. On remand, the circuit court is directed to join Alfa as a party to this action, if feasible. … If Alfa cannot be made a party, the circuit court should consider the reasons Alfa cannot be joined and decide whether the action should proceed in Alfa’s absence. See Rule 19(b) and (c).

Ms. **19-21 (internal citations omitted).

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