Lightning Fair, Inc. v. Rosenberg makes clear that an order granting or denying a motion to compel arbitration is appealed in the same way as any other final order. In addition, it states the standard by which the Alabama Supreme Court reviews a trial court’s Rule 54(b) certification.
A motion to dismiss — which argued that the plaintiff had to arbitrate its claims — was effectively a motion to compel arbitration. The denial of that motion could be appealed as a matter of right. The Court of Civil Appeals erred by holding that the denied motion to dismiss would not support an appeal. Ex parte Directory Assistants, Inc., No. 1080852 (Ala. Nov. 25, 2009).
Although it was decided in the criminal law context, the case Ex parte King, [Ms. 1071540] (Ala. Jan. 9, 2009), may be instructive in civil cases. In King, the Alabama Supreme Court held that mandamus review of a pre-trial ruling on a motion in limine regarding evidence is not approrpiate. The Court noted that there were no published opinions in Alabama covering this scenario, but, well settled propositions show that such a review is not allowed. Evidentiary rulings are reviewed to determine whether a trial court exceeded its discretion. These types of rulings are not approrpiate for mandamus review because "circumstances involving alleged errors of judgment, or errors in the exercise of judicial discretion, [do] not constitute grounds for invoking supervisory mandamus." Slip Op. p. 6, quoting Ex parte Nice, 407 So. 2d 874, 882 (Ala. 1981).
In Ex parte Gentiva Health Services, Inc., released by the Alabama Supreme Court on November 14, 2008, the court reviewed a trial court’s order allowing discovery of privileged materials in a medical malpractice act even though the party against whom discovery was sought had not filed a motion for protective order in the trial court.
In North Alabama Electric Cooperative v. New Hope Telephone Cooperative, the Alabama Supreme Court dismissed a Rule 54(b) interlocutory appeal because the claim for common law indemnity that was adjudicated by the trial court was intertwined with the claim for contractual indemnity that was still pending before the trial court.
In Amberson v. Long, No. 2061191 Ala. Civ. App. (June 13, 2008), a mother appealed from an order modifying child custody. The father responded that “the order from which the mother appeals is a pendente lite custody order that will not support an appeal.” The mother characterized the order as a final, appealable "temporary custody award." The court of civil appeals explained that, "[a]lthough somewhat confusing, an order awarding `temporary’ custody can be either a pendente lite order or a final order. . . . The record reflects that the order awarding the father custody was, in fact, a pendente lite order. The case had been set only for a pendente lite hearing, no testimony was taken, the order does not resolve all the issues raised in the father’s modification petition, and the order itself indicates that it is ‘PDL,’ which appears to be a reference to the term ‘pendente lite.’ Because review of pendente lite orders maybe obtained only through a petition for a writ of mandamus, and because the mother did not seek a writ of mandamus, the mother’s appeal must be dismissed.”
In deciding whether to apply the law of the case doctrine in a case that has been appealed multiple times, the appellate court should consider the purpose of the rule and the circumstances surrounding the initial appellate decision in the case. Swafford v. Norton, No. 2060722 (Ala. Civ. App. April 18, 2008).
In Ex parte Nationwide Ins. Co., No. 1061708 (Ala. April 18, 2008), the Alabama Supreme Court confirmed that, “an appeal is not an adequate remedy to review the defense, ‘[i]n a narrow class of cases involving fictitious parties and the relation-back doctrine’ that a claim is barred by the statute of limitations.” (quoting Ex Parte Jackson, 780 So. 2d 681, 684 (Ala. 2000)).