Appeal Dismissed as from Nonfinal Judgment Where Claims Remain Pending in the Trial Court

In James v. Rane, released by the Alabama Supreme Court on October 17, the court dismissed the appeal as from a nonfinal judgment where claims remained pending in the trial court.

The plaintiffs in this title dispute asserted a number of claims, including declaratory judgment, trespass, trespass to chattel, negligence, wantonness, inflication of emotional distress, and the tort of outrage.   After the case had been pending for a number of years, the defendant filed a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss several of the claims, but conceding that other of the claims stated a claim upon which relief could be granted, assuming a  more definite statement was provided.  The plaintiff replied to the motion to dismiss and also provided a more definite statement. 

The trial court entered an order stating that the motion to dismiss was granted and giving the plaintiffs fourteen days to respond to the motion to dismiss.  In addition, an entry appeared on the case action summary stating that an order had been e-filed giving the plaintiff fourteen days to respond and granting the motion to dismiss. 

On appeal, the plaintiffs contended that the trial court dismissed all of their claims.  However, a review of the record indicated that the actual motion that was granted sought dismissal of particular claims only.  Noting that the trial court’s order and notation on the case action summary were not "models of clarity," the court concluded that certain of the plaintiff’s claims were dismissed, but others were only required to be stated with more particularity and were therefore still pending before the trial court.

Because a trial court’s order is not final unless it disposes of all claims as to all parties, the appeal was from a nonfinal judgment and therefore due to be dismissed.