Common Law Exemption From Execution – Municipal Solid Waste Disposal Authority

WM Mobile Bay Env. Center, Inc. v. City of Mobile Solid Waste Auth., [Ms. 1190978, Dec. 17, 2021] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2021). The Court (Stewart, J.; Parker, C.J., and Bolin and Mendheim, JJ., concur; Shaw, Wise, Bryan, and Sellers, JJ., concur in the result; Mitchell, J., recuses) answers certified questions from the Eleventh Circuit concerning whether real property owned by the Solid Waste Disposal Authority of the City of Mobile (the Authority) is subject to execution on a judgment against the Authority held by WM Mobile Bay Environmental Center, Inc.

The first certified question involved the applicability to real property owned by the Authority of the exemption in § 6-10-10, Ala. Code 1975 – “[a]ll property, real or personal, belonging to the several counties or municipal corporations in this state and used for county or municipal purposes shall be exempt from levy and sale under any process or judgment whatsoever.” After discussing the separate existence of public corporations such as the Authority from the state, counties or municipalities which create them, the Court answers in the negative the first certified question – “Can a property owned by a solid waste disposal authority ‘belong to’ a county or municipality for purposes of section 6-10-10?” Ms. *15.

After noting that “no statute has abrogated, either expressly or implicitly, the common-law rule prohibiting execution on property owned by a public or quasi-public corporation and used for a public purpose,” the Court reiterates that “‘[t]he common law is the law of Alabama unless it is repealed by statute.’ Borden v. Malone, [Ms. 1190327, Nov. 25, 2020] __ So. 3d __, __ (Ala. 2020); see also § 1-3-1, Ala. Code 1975….” Accordingly, the Court “conclude(s) that the common-law doctrine prohibiting execution on property used for public purposes remains the law of Alabama; that the doctrine coexists with statutes adopting similar principles, such as § 6-10-10 and § 24-1-40; and that the doctrine applies to public corporations, including public corporations organized under the [Alabama Solid Waste Disposal Authority] Act.” Ms.**19-20.

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