Declaratory Judgment – Justiciable Controversy

Russell d/b/a Carl’s Country v. Sedinger, et al., [Ms. 1200574, Sept. 17, 2021] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2021). The Court (Sellers, J.; Bolin and Stewart, JJ., concur; Parker, C.J., and Mitchell, J., concur specially) affirms the Autauga Circuit Court’s dismissal of Russell’s complaint for a declaratory judgment for failure to state a claim.

The Court explains “[t]he test for the sufficiency of a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment is whether the pleader is entitled to a declaration of rights at all, not whether the pleader will prevail in the declaratory-judgment action.” [Harper v. Brown, Stagner, Richardson, Inc., 873 So. 2d 220, 223 (Ala. 2003)]. If there is no justiciable controversy at the commencement of a declaratory-judgment action, a court lacks jurisdiction over the action and it must be dismissed. Chapman v. Gooden, 974 So. 2d 972 (Ala. 2007). Ms. *6. Russell sought a declaration that he could sell draft beer at his establishment located outside the City of Prattville but within its police jurisdiction. The Court holds that there was no justiciable controversy and explains

There is no bona fide justiciable controversy to be settled between Russell and the defendants. At the time Russell commenced his action seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, Ordinance No. 6-9 provided that the City could regulate the sale and distribution of draft beer only within its corporate limits. Russell has not claimed that the ordinance is either invalid or unreasonable, nor has he presented a viable argument to support his theory that there is no distinction between beer and draft beer.

Ms. *11.

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