Improper Rule 54(b) Certification

Rogers, etc. v. Cedar Bluff Volunteer Fire Department, et al., [Ms. SC-2022-0439, June 30, 2023] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2023). The Court (Cook, J.; Parker, C.J., and Wise, Bryan, Mendheim, Stewart, and Mitchell, JJ., concur; Shaw, J., concurs specially; Sellers, J., dissents) vacates the Cherokee Circuit Court’s Rule 54(b) certification of its summary judgment dismissing wrongful death claims asserted by Carol Rogers, as the administratrix of the estate of Susan Bonner, deceased, against the Cedar Bluff Volunteer Fire Department (“the CBVFD” or “Cedar Bluff”) and (2) the Cherokee County Association of Volunteer Fire Departments, Inc. (“the Association”). Rogers’s claims against Howard Guice, a former volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician with the CBVFD, remain pending in the circuit court.

The Court concludes “if a jury decides that Guice acted reasonably, or breached no duty, or was not the proximate cause of Bonner’s death, then this appeal would be mooted. Likewise, even if a jury finds none of those things, but finds that Guice ‘was acting in good faith and within the scope of [his] official functions and duties for a … governmental entity,’ then pursuant to § 6-5-336(d)(1) of the VSA [Volunteer Service Act], Guice would be immune from liability and Cedar Bluff could not be held vicariously liable for his conduct.” Ms. *15. The Court holds “[b]ecause the review of the issues decided by the trial court on summary judgment would require this Court to resolve claims that are potentially moot, we conclude that the trial court exceeded its discretion in finding that there was no just reason for delay and certifying its judgment as final pursuant to Rule 54(b).” Ms. **15-16.

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