Ala. R. Civ. P. 54(b) Certification & Criteria For Appealability

Baldwin County Sewer Service, LLC v. The Gardens at Glenlakes Property Owners Association, Inc. et al., [Ms. 1200493, Jan. 14, 2022] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2022). The Court (Stewart, J.; Parker, C.J., and Bolin, Wise, and Sellers, JJ., concur) dismiss an appeal by Baldwin County Sewer Service (“BCSS”) as an appeal from a non-final order.

The Court reiterates general principles required for the finality of judgments to support an appeal:

... We have consistently held that this Court will not entertain the attempted appeal of a denial of a motion for a summary judgment because “‘“[s]uch an order is inherently non-final and cannot be made final by a Rule 54(b) certification .... An order denying summary judgment is interlocutory and nonappealable.”’” Continental Cas. Co. v. SouthTrust Bank, N.A., 933 So. 2d 337, 340 (Ala. 2006) (quoting Fahey v. C.A.T.V. Subscriber Servs., Inc., 568 So. 2d 1219, 1222 (Ala. 1990), quoting in turn Parsons Steel, Inc. v. Beasley, 522 So. 2d 253, 257-58 (Ala. 1988)).

Id., Ms. *10.

... An order denying a motion to dismiss is, likewise, not a final, appealable judgment. See Ex parte Noland Hosp. Montgomery, LLC, 127 So. 3d 1160, 1165 (Ala. 2012).

Id., Ms. **10-11.

Although the trial court purported to certify the March 5, 2021 [appealed from] order as final pursuant to Rule 54(b), Ala. R. Civ. P., for a Rule 54(b) certification to be effective, “the order must dispose of at least one of a number of claims or one of multiple parties, must make an express determination that there is no just reason for delay, and must expressly direct the entry of a judgment as to that claim or that party.” Ex parte Noland Hosp. Montgomery, LLC, 127 So. 3d at 1165-66 (citing Jakeman v. Lawrence Grp. Mgmt. Co., 82 So. 3d 655, 659 (Ala. 2011), citing in turn Committee Comments on 1973 Adoption of Rule 54(b), Ala. R. Civ. P.)). “In other words, for a Rule 54(b) certification of finality to be effective, [the order being certified as final] must fully adjudicate at least one claim or fully dispose of the claims as they relate to at least one party.” Haynes v. Alfa Fin. Corp., 730 So. 2d 178, 181 (Ala.1999)(emphasis omitted).

Id., Ms. *11.

Here, because the “order at issue[] does not fully dispose of any claims or parties – instead, it effectively permits the consolidated actions to proceed by determining that the Association’s and the individual plaintiffs are the real parties in interest” ... “‘the trial court’s purported Rule 54(b) certification was not effective to create a final judgment, and the order to which that certification related was not appealable as of right.’”

Ms. *11-12, quoting Haynes, supra, 730 So. 2d at 181-82. Because BCSS appealed from a non-final order, the Court dismisses its appeal.

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