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Dismissal For Failure to Prosecute Reversed

S.C. and K.C. v. Autauga County Board of Education, et al., [Ms. 1190382, Oct. 30, 2020], ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. 2020). The Court (Bolin, J.; Parker, C.J., and Sellers, Stewart, and Mitchell, JJ., concur; Wise, J., recuses) reverses the Autauga Circuit Court’s dismissal with prejudice pursuant to Rule 41(b), Ala. R. Civ. Pro. The circuit court had twice continued hearings on motions to dismiss requested by the defendants and had stated in the second continuance order that no further continuances would be granted “absent a showing of extraordinary circumstances.” Ms. *5. The plaintiffs subsequently requested a continuance of the hearing which was not ruled upon. Ibid.

When the plaintiffs did not appear at the hearing, the circuit court dismissed all of their claims with prejudice. The Court reverses and holds, “[d]ismissals with prejudice or defaults are drastic sanctions, termed ‘extreme’ by the Supreme Court, National Hockey League [v.Metropolitan Hockey Club, Inc.], 427 U.S.[639] at 643, 96 S.Ct. [2778] at 2781 [(1976)], and are to be reserved for comparable cases.” Poulis v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 747 F.2d 863,867-68 (3d Cir. 1984). That most severe sanction in the spectrum of sanctions is not warranted in this case.” Ms. *14.

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