Order Granting or Denying Motion to Compel Arbitration Appealable As a Final Judgment; Rule 54(b) Certifications Reviewed for Abuse of Discretion

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. 

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Alabama Supreme Court Discusses Standard of Review Applicable to Ruling on Rule 60(b)(4) Motion Collaterally Attacking A Foreign Judgment

In Pirtek USA, LLC v. Whitehead et al., No 1071570, the Alabama Supreme Court restated the standard of review applicable to reviewing a ruling on a motion filed pursuant to Rule 60(b)(4) collaterally attacking a foreign judgment on the basis that the judgment is void for lack of jurisdiction.

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Circuit Courts Must Apply Deferential Standard of Review to Administrative Agency Decisions

When circuit courts review administrative decisions, they must defer to the adminsitrative agency and set aside the agency’s decision only if the decision was not supported by substantial evidence, the agency’s actions were not reasonable, or the agency’s actions were not within its statutory and constitutional powers. Alabama State Personnel Board v. Dueitt, 2080899 (Ala. Civ. App. May 7, 2010).  In Dueitt, the Court of Civil Appeals reversed a circuit court opinion overruling an Alabama State Personnel Board decision because "the circuit court impermissibly reweighed the evidence and substituted its judgment regarding a question of fact for the judgment of the Board.".

 

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Supreme Court Gives Considerable Deference to Trial Court in Ruling on Preliminary Injunction

In Spinks v. Automation Personnel Services, Inc., No. 1081379 (Ala. April 9, 2010), the Alabama Supreme Court summarized the deferential standard of review that it uses in appeals from orders granting or denying a motion for preliminary injunction.  The Court wrote, "'[T]he grant of, or refusal to grant, a preliminary injunction rests largely in the discretion of the trial court and that court’s latitude in this area is considerable; if no abuse of that discretion is shown, its action will not be disturbed on appeal.’  This Court has defined an abuse of discretion as discretion that ‘exceed[s] the bounds of reason, all the circumstances before the lower court being considered.’"  

Court Discusses Unusual Standards of Review

In two of the opinions that it issued last week, the Alabama Supreme Court discussed standards of review that receive attention less frequently than others.  In Intergraph Corporation et al. v. Bentley Systems Incorporated, Nos. 1080300, 1080405  (Ala. March 12, 2010), the Court described the standard of review that it applies to findings of special masters.  In Archer v. The Estate of Archer, Nos. 1090093, 1090094, 1090096 (Ala. March 12, 2010), the Court outlined the standard of review that it uses when interprets a statute.

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Stipulated Facts Bring De Novo Review

 Where the circuit court received only arguments on a stipulated factual record, the appeals court gave the circuit court’s judgment “no presumption of correctness,” and so reviewed that judgment under a de novo standard. Ex parte Ala. Dept. of Revenue, No. 1070925 (Ala. Feb. 26, 2010).

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Court of Civil Appeals States Standard Governing Review of Trial Court’s Ruling on Motion to Vacate a Default Judgment

In LVNV Funding, LLC v. Boyles, released last week, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals reversed the trial court’s judgment denying a motion to vacate a default judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b)(4).  The case was handled by Lightfoot, Franklin & White’s own Chips Pruet and Wes Gilchrist and provides a good recent statement of the standard of review governing a ruling on a motion to vacate a default judgment.  

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