Void Judgment Will Not Support An Appeal

In K.R. v. D.H., [Ms. 2061119] (Ala. Civ. App. Jan. 25, 2008), the Court of Civil Appeals dismissed an appeal for lack of jurisdiction because the trial court did not have jurisdiction over the underlying dispute.  The court held that "because a judgment entered without subject-matter jurisdiction is void . . ., and because a void judgment will not support an appeal . . . , we dismiss the appeal."

Time To Appeal Runs From Date of Order Which Indicated Issues Were Resolved Against A Party

Although the date of a Rule 60(a) order correcting a scrivener’s error generally relates back to the date of the original order, in Brown v. Brown, [Ms. 2050935] (Ala. Civ. App.  Jan. 25, 2008) , the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals held that an appeal was timely where it was filed within 42 days of the Rule 60(a) order where that order was the first time the party knew the trial court had ruled against it.

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Cases Released January 25, 2008

From the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals:

K.R. v. D.H.

M.R.D. v. T.D.

Springfield Missionary Baptist Church v. Wall

Brown v. Brown

Patel v. Management Enterprise Development and Services, Inc., et al.


From the Supreme Court of Alabama:

Ex parte Sabrina Johnson et al., In re: Champion Home Builders Company v. Johnson et al.

Alabama State Bar v. R.G.P., Jr.

Griffin v. Unocal Corporation et al.

Ex parte Stanley Anderson, In re: Anderson v. State of Alabama

Ex parte William Mitchell, In re: Perry & Williams, Inc. v. Mitchell

The McCutchen Company, Inc. v. Media General, Inc., d/b/a WKRG TV-5, et al.

Kenworth of Mobile, Inc., d/b/a Volvo Trucks of Mobile v. Dolphin Line, Inc.

Notice of Appeal Effective Even If Signed By Foreign Lawyer Not Admitted Pro Hac Vice

An appeal could not be dismissed merely because the notice of appeal was signed by an out-of-state lawyer, even if that lawyer was not admitted pro hac vice in Alabama. Ex parte Taylor, No. 1051315 (Ala. Jan. 18, 2008). Though a criminal case, Taylor has obvious relevance to civil practice.

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Landowner Waived Ownership Issue By Failing to Provide Authority and Argument

A landowner waived the issue of whether he owned a watercourse by making only a cursory claim of ownership in his appellate brief, but failing to cite legal authority or make legal arguments to support that claim. Harper v. Coats, No. 1050145 (Ala. Jan. 18, 2008). The Alabama Supreme Court consequently affirmed a summary judgment against him.

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Supreme Court Vacates Trial Court’s Order Denying Motion to Dismiss Suit Against “Borat”; Forum Selection Clause Valid

In Ex parte Sacha Baron Cohen, [Ms. 1061288] (Ala. Jan. 18, 2008), the Alabama Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion, vacated the trial court’s order denying the motion to dismiss filed by  Sacha Baron "Borat" Cohen and other defendants.  The suit arose from the Plaintiff’s participation in the film "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit of Glorious Kazakhstan." The Plaintiff, an etiquette teacher featured in the film, signed a forum selection clause providing that any suit must be filed in New York.

The trial court had declared the forum selection clause invalid pursuant to Alabama’s "door closing" statute because one of the signatories was not qualified to do business in Alabama.  The Supreme Court vacated the order, and held that the "door closing" statute did not apply because the transaction (i.e. the film)  involved interstate commerce.  Therefore, the forum selction clause was valid.

Mr. Cohen and other defendants were represented by William Brooks, Banks Sewell and Gray Borden of Lightfoot, Franklin & White, LLC.

Click the links for news articles on this opinion:

"’Borat’ Actors Wins Ala. Case Over Movie" – AP

"Borat has last laugh after lawsuit fails" – Sydney Morning Herald

"Court Backs Borat" – New York Times




Cases Released on January 18, 2008

From the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals:

Giardina v. Giardina

Jackson v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Company

Dean v. Dean

Ramsey v. Ramsey

Edwards v. Intergraph Services Company, Inc.

Nichols v. Nichols

Health Care Authority of Athens and Limestone County v. Statewide Health Coordinating Council, et al.

Beck v. Attorney General Troy King, et al.


From the Supreme Court of Alabama:

Ex parte Sacha Baron Cohen et al., In re: Martin v. Cohen et al.

Bishop v. Chilton County

Maciasz et al. v. Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company and Chicago Insurance Company

Long v. Bryant

Slack v. Stream

Ex parte Taylor, In re: Taylor v. State of Alabama

Harper v. Coats

Appellate Courts Hold Firm on Waiver

In a number of opinions released on January 11, 2008, the Alabama Supreme Court noted arguments that parties waived in their appellate briefs.  See Roper v. Rhodes, No. 1060331, p. 4 n. 4 (Ala. Jan 11, 2008)(plaintiff waived appellate review of trial court’s holding that secretary of state was not proper party to election contest because plaintiffs did not include argument pertaining to the issue in their appellate brief); DiBiasi et al. v. Joe Wheeler Electric Membership Corp., No. 1060848 (Ala. Jan. 11, 2008)(in wrongful death action, Court would not review summary judgment on plaintiffs’ wantonness claim because plaintiffs did not argue the issue in their appellate brief, and arguments made for the first time in a reply brief are not properly before the Court); but see, Bright v. Calhoun, No. 1061146 (Ala. Jan. 11, 2008)(mayor adequately briefed argument regarding interpretation of local act because question was one of first impression, and mayor cited cases explaining general rules of statutory construction in support of his argument).