Untimely Appeal – Final Judgment

Dellinger, et al. v. Bryant Bank, et al., [Ms. 1190430, Aug. 13, 2021] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2021). The Court (Mitchell, J.; Parker, C.J., and Shaw, Bryan, and Mendheim, JJ., concur) dismisses as untimely Plaintiffs’ appeal from the Jefferson Circuit Court’s final judgment dismissing all claims on summary judgment and denying Plaintiffs’ request to amend their complaint a second time. The Court reiterates

…[T]he timeliness of a notice of appeal is a matter of jurisdiction. See, e.g., Beatty v. Carmichael, 293 So. 3d 874, 877 (Ala. 2019) (“[W]ithout a timely filed notice of appeal, the jurisdiction of this Court is not invoked, meaning that this Court has no authority or power to review the judgment being appealed.”); Harden v. Laney, 118 So. 3d 186, 187 (Ala. 2013) (“‘Timely filing of the notice of appeal is a jurisdictional act. It is the only step in the appellate process which is jurisdictional.’”) (citation omitted)); Holmes v. Powell, 363 So. 2d 760, 762 (Ala. 1978) (noting that the “timely filing of the notice of appeal is jurisdictional”).

Ms. *7.

The dispositive question was whether the summary judgment order entered on May 29, 2019 was a final order. In concluding that the May order was a final judgment, the Court notes that “[w]hen assessing whether a trial court has sufficiently issued a final judgment, we look to the substance of the order and not the particular words used by the trial court.” Ms. *9. After listing several indicia of the finality of the May 29 order, the Court holds “the biggest indicator that the [plaintiffs] construction parties understood that the May order was a final judgment is that they filed a Rule 59(e) motion to alter, amend, or vacate, which may be filed only in reference to a final judgment. See, e.g., SCI Alabama Funeral Servs., Inc. v. Hester, 984 So. 2d 1207, 1208 n.1 (Ala. Civ. App. 2007). The decision to file that motion makes plain that the May order was understood to be final by all involved.” Ms. *13.

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