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Scope of Remand Order - Law of the Case

Stockham v. Ladd, et al., [Ms. 1180904, Dec. 4, 2020], ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. 2020). The Court (Wise, J.; Parker, C.J., and Bolin, Shaw, Bryan, and Stewart, JJ., concur; Mendheim, J., concurs in the result; Mitchell, J., recuses) reverses the Jefferson Circuit Court’s order that Stockham, the prevailing party, was not entitled to reimbursement of attorney fees and expenses. The order was entered on remand following a prior appeal. In the prior appeal, the Supreme Court had ordered that Stockham was entitled to reimbursement and remanded for a determination of the amount of reimbursement. Ms. *11. On remand, Ladd argued for the first time that “Stockham was not entitled to reimbursement because Herbert Stockham “had committed a willful or wanton material breach of the trust.” Ms. *12.

The Court holds that the circuit court’s order denying Stockham’s request for reimbursement exceeded the scope of the remand order and violated the law-of-the-case doctrine. The Court explains “because Ladd first raised her [material-breach] argument in the circuit court following remand by this Court, it was not properly before the circuit court and could not serve as a basis for denying Stockham’s request for reimbursement of costs and attorney fees.” Ms. *24.

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