COVID-19 UPDATE: We are open! Our team is working and offering consultations via phone, e-mail, and video conferencing.

Ala. R. Civ. P. 59.1 Denial of Post-judgment Motion by Operation of Law not Impacted by Supreme Court's Administrative COVID-19 Orders

Ex parte Miller, [Ms. 1190918, Apr. 2, 2021], ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. 2021). The Court (Shaw, J.; and Bolin, Wise, Bryan, Sellers, Stewart, and Mitchell, JJ., concur; Parker, C.J., concurs in the result) grants a petition for a writ of mandamus directing the Madison Circuit Court to vacate an order purporting to grant a post-judgment motion of a plaintiff seeking a new trial because it was untimely given the 90-day automatic denial of such a motion imposed by Ala. R. Civ. P. 59.1. The plaintiff argued in opposition to the petition that the Supreme Court’s administrative COVID-19 orders suspended operation of Rule 59.1, but the Supreme Court disagreed explaining how Rule 59.1 is construed:

At all times relevant to this case, Rule 59.1 provided:

No postjudgment motion filed pursuant to Rules 50, 52, 55, or 59[, Ala. R. Civ. P.,] shall remain pending in the trial court for more than ninety (90) days, unless with the express consent of all the parties, which consent shall appear of record, or unless extended by the appellate court to which an appeal of the judgment would lie, and such time may be further extended for good cause shown. A failure by the trial court to render an order disposing of any pending postjudgment motion within the time permitted hereunder, or any extension thereof, shall constitute a denial of such motion as of the date of the expiration of the period.

At the expiration of the 90-day period provided by the rule, the trial court loses jurisdiction to rule on the postjudgment motion. See Ex parte Jackson Hosp. & Clinic, Inc., 49 So. 3d at 1212 (explaining that the trial court's order purporting to rule on a postjudgment motion "was void because [the trial court] lost jurisdiction after the running of the 90-day period prescribed by Rule 59.1"), Ex parte Davidson, 782 So. 2d 237, 241 (Ala. 2000) ("If a trial judge allows a postjudgment motion to remain pending and not ruled upon for 90 days, then the motion is denied by operation of law at the end of the 90th day and the trial judge then loses jurisdiction to rule on the motion."), Ex parte Caterpillar, Inc., 708 So. 2d 142, 143 (Ala. 1997) ("If a trial court does not rule on a post-judgment motion within 90 days, it loses jurisdiction to rule on the motion."), and Ex parte Hornsby, 663 So. 2d 966, 967 (Ala. 1995).

Ms. **8-9, and,

* * *

Because the trial court lost jurisdiction after the expiration of the 90-day period prescribed by Rule 59.1, its order is void. See, e.g., Ex parte Jackson Hosp. & Clinic, Inc., 49 So. 3d at 1212, Ex parte Davidson, 782 So. 2d at 241, Ex parte Caterpillar, Inc., 708 So. 2d at 143, and Ex parte Hornsby, 663 So. 2d at 967. That jurisdictional deadline applies even if the trial court's failure to rule within 90 days is inadvertent rather than deliberate. See Howard v. McMillian, 480 So. 2d 1251, 1252 (Ala. Civ. App. 1985) ("Rule 59.1 makes no distinction between an inadvertent failure, a deliberate failure, and any other type of failure by the trial court to dispose of a pending postjudgment motion within the prescribed ninety day period. Any type of failure to rule upon such a motion during such period of time is adequate to bring rule 59.1 into operation."). See also Ex parte Limerick, 66 So. 3d 755, 757 (Ala. 2011).

Ms. **11-12. Accordingly, because the petitioner demonstrated the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enter the order purporting to grant a post-judgment motion for a new trial, the petition for a writ of mandamus was due to be granted and the Madison Circuit Court was directed to vacate its order purporting to grant, after the expiration of the 90-day period imposed by Rule 59.1, the post-judgment motion seeking a new trial.

Related Documents

Categories

Contact Us Today

  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.