Court of Civil Appeals Reaffirms that Rule 60(b) Is Not a Substitute for an Appeal

In Hobbs v. Heisey, No. 2070085, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals reiterated the appropriate uses of Rule 60(b), noting that it cannot be used as a substitute for an appeal from a final judgment. 

In Hobbs, the husband sought to appeal a March 2006 divorce decree.  In June of that year, however, the judgment was withdrawn and an amended judgment was entered.  The father filed a motion to amend, alter, or vacate that judgment, which was granted on October 26, 2006, more than 90 days after the judgment was originally entered and when the trial court had lost its jurisdiction to rule on post-trial motions.  The father then filed a motion pursurant to Rule 60(b)(5) and (6) for relief. 

The court held that this was not an acceptable mode of seeking relief from the June, 2006 judgment.  The court pointed out that the grounds allowed in Rule 60(b)(6) are reserved for extraordinary circumstances and are available only in cases of extreme hardship or injustice.  Moreover, that relief is exclusive of the other Rule 60(b) bases.  The situation at hand was more akin to that of Rule 60(b)(1) and did not rise to the level required for 60(b)(6).  Finally, the court noted that Rule 60(b) cannot be used as a substitute for an appeal.