“Sparse” Workers’ Compensation Order Prevents Mandamus Review

The trial court decided that a nursing-home employee was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The court’s order “did not contain detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law,” as required by Ala. Code § 25-5-88. This “sparse” order prevented appellate review. The Court of Civil Appeals denied the employer’s mandamus petition and ordered the trial court to enter an order complying with § 25-5-88. El Reposo Nursing Home Group, Inc., No. 2100113 (Ala. Civ. App. Mar. 25, 2011).

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Mandamus Treated As Appeal of Final Workers’ Compensation Judgment — Court Notes “Tension” In Precedent And Follows “Emerging” Rule

The Court of Civil Appeals treated a mandamus petition as an appeal from a “final judgment” in this workers’ compensation suit. The court recognized that this “emerging” practice of treating certain workers’ compensation decisions as final and appealable is “in tension” with some existing precedent. Ultimately, the appellate court reversed the lower court for failing to include findings of fact and conclusions of law in its decision. Belcher-Robinson Foundry, LLC v. Narr, No. 2080928 (Ala. Civ. App. Jan. 29, 2010).

The trial court entered a decision ruling that the plaintiff employee had been injured on the job, that he was temporarily totally disabled, and that his employer was consequently responsible for medical payments under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act. Within the time allowed for filing an appeal, the employer challenged this decision by petitioning the Court of Civil Appeals for a writ of mandamus.

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Unlike Jurisdiction, Party May Waive Argument Concerning Real Party in Interest

When the Court notices a possible jurisdictional defect in a case, it is incumbent upon the Court to examine the issue, even though no party has raised it.  The question of whether a case is being prosecuted by the real party in interest is not  a jurisdictional question.  The real party in interest is the person who possesses the right that is sought to be enforced.  For a defendant to challenge an action on the basis of the plaintiff’s inability to pursue the claim because the plaintiff is not the real party in interest, the defendant must brief the issue in its mandamus petition.  A petitioner waives arguments that it does not make in its petition.  The Court will not "do independent research to determine whether a petitioner for a writ of mandamus has established a clear legal right."  Ex parte Simpson, No. 1080981 (Ala. Oct. 16, 2009). 

In Discretionary Situations, Mandamus does not Compel Particular Exercise of Discretion

Mandamus is an extraordinary remedy.  When a party directs a petition for mandamus to an order that the trial court entered in exercise of its discretion, the appellate court may compel the exercise of discretion, but it may not compel that exercise in a particular manner.  The appellate court also may correct an abuse of discretion via a mandamus petition.  When the order that the appellate court remands to the trial court is not a final judgment, the trial court may accept additional evidence before exercising its discretion and entering a new order.  Ex parte S.C., No. 2080419  (Ala. Civ. App. Aug. 14, 2009).

Alabama Supreme Court Denies Petition for Writ of Mandamus Directing the Trial Court to Enter Protective Order Prohibiting Discovery Relating to Plaintiff’s Sexual History

In In re Laura Kay Carlisle v. Thomas G. Moore and Atmore Animal Hospital, LLC, No, 1080038, released June 30, 2009, the Alabama Supreme Court denied the plaintiff’s petition seeking a writ of mandamus directing the trial court to enter a protective order prohibiting discovery of evidence relating to the plaintiff’s sexual history. In so doing, the court provided a glimpse into just how difficult it is to successfully mandamus a discovery order. 

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Summary Judgment Denial Not Reviewed By Mandamus Despite Involving Time Bar Against Previously Fictitious Party

A defendant sought mandamus review of the circuit court’s denial of its motion for summary judgment. The motion presented issues of fictitious-party practice and the statute of limitations. Because the trial court had not reached the limitations issue, and because that issue might make the fictitious-party question irrelevant, the defendant had an adequate remedy other than mandamus. The Supreme Court of Alabama thus denied the writ. Ex parte Brian Nelson Excavating, LLC, No. 1071473 (Ala. Jun. 12, 2009).

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Lawyer’s Affidavit Thwarted Mandamus Petition; Court Exceeded Discretion By Ordering More Discovery Than Requested

The Alabama Supreme Court partly granted a mandamus petition in this discovery dispute. It first held that the substantively unchallenged affidavit of the plaintiff’s lawyer, describing an unrecorded hearing in the trial court, provided sufficient evidence to defeat the mandamus petition. It then held that the trial court had exceeded its discretion by compelling wider discovery than the plaintiff had sought. Ex parte Guaranty Pest Control, Inc., No. 1080386 (Ala. Apr. 24, 2009).

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Appeal From Non-Final Denial of Hearing Would Not Be Treated As Mandamus Petition

The juvenile court did not adjudicate "all matters in controversy," in a dependency case, by denying the mother’s request for a hearing. That denial therefore was not a final judgment that would support an appeal. Nor did the mother present evidence showing that the lower court had exceeded its discretion in refusing to grant a hearing. The appellate court thus declined to treat the appeal as a petition for mandamus. The mother’s appeal was consequently dismissed. J.W.K. v. Marshall County Dept. of Human Resources, No. 2071195 (Ala. Civ. App. Mar. 20, 2009).

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Determination of Mootness Not Final Judgment — Supports Neither Appeal Nor Mandamus

The probate court did not enter a “final judgment” by holding that a request for litigation costs was moot. The circuit court erred, therefore, by faulting the defendants for not appealing from that holding or seeking a writ of mandamus to correct it. LaConsay v. Langley, No. 2070999 (Ala. Civ. App. Jan. 23, 2009).

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