Rule 60(a) Clerical Correction Does Not Affect Deadline to Appeal

The plaintiff mistakenly timed his appeal from the day on which the trial court, under Rule 60(a), corrected a clerical error in its final judgment. He should have measured from the day the original judgment was entered. Filed more than 42 days after the original judgment, his appeal was late and was dismissed. Barnes v. HMB, LLC, No. 2071241 (Ala. Civ. App. May 15, 2009).

The trial court entered a summary judgment for the defendant. That judgment mistakenly identified the losing plaintiff as “defendant.” The next day, under Rule 60(a), the court entered an order correcting its judgment to identify the plaintiff as “plaintiff.” Forty-two days after the Rule 60(a) correction, the plaintiff appealed.

On its own motion the Court of Civil Appeals held that it lacked appellate jurisdiction. The plaintiff should have filed his appeal within 42 days of entry of the original judgment, not the Rule 60(a) correction. “A change to a judgment to correct a clerical error” under Rule 60(a) “relates back to the date of the entry of the final judgment.” Unlike a “correction” that in fact tries to substantively amend a previous order, a true clerical correction under Rule 60(a) “has no bearing on the timeliness of an appeal from the original uncorrected judgment.”

Filed more than 42 days after entry of the original judgment, the plaintiff’s appeal was late and was consequently dismissed.