Perfecting An Appeal Of An Arbitration Award

Wynlake Residential Association, Inc., et al. v. Hulsey, [Ms. 1200242, Oct. 22, 2021] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2021). The Court (Bryan, J.; Parker, C.J., and Shaw, Mendheim, and Mitchell, JJ., concur) dismisses as untimely an appeal from the Shelby Circuit Court’s judgment on an arbitration award entered in favor of Timothy Hulsey against Wynlake Residential Association, Inc. and related parties. The Court first explains the unique procedure for appealing an arbitration award:

“Rule 71B establishes the following procedure for the appeal of an arbitration award(1) A party must file a notice of appeal with the appropriate circuit court within 30 days after service of the notice of the arbitration award; (2) the clerk of the circuit court shall promptly enter the award as the final judgment of the circuit court; (3) the aggrieved party may file a Rule 59, Ala. R. Civ. P., motion to set aside or vacate the judgment, and such filing is a condition precedent to further review by any appellate court; (4) the circuit court grants or denies the Rule 59 motion; and (5) the aggrieved party may then appeal from the circuit court's judgment to the appropriate appellate court.”

Ms. *5, quoting Guardian Builders, LLC v. Uselton, 130 So. 3d 179, 181 (Ala. 2013).

The Defendants filed a timely notice of appeal in the Shelby Circuit on October 30, 2019 and filed a Rule 59 motion that same day. Ms.*5. However, the clerk did not enter the award as the final judgment of the circuit court until September 2, 2020. Ibid. When the judgment was entered, that quickened the Defendants’ Rule 59 motion making it ripe for decision by the circuit court and triggering the 90-day period in Rule 59.1. Ms. *6, citing Rule 71B(f). “The disposition of any such [Rule 59] motion is subject to civil and appellate rules applicable to orders and judgments in civil actions.”

The circuit court’s January 20, 2021 order purporting to deny the Rule 59 motion was entered 50 days after the court lost jurisdiction to rule on the motion when it was denied by operation of law on December 1, 2020. Ms. *8. Because the Defendants had until January 12, 2021 to file a notice of appeal of the denial of their Rule 59 motion, their appeal filed on January 20, 2021 was untimely. Ms. *9.

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