Appeal Dismissed for Lack of Final Judgment

In Hall v. Reynolds, No. 1080408 (Ala. June 19, 2009), the trial court granted a motion for preliminary injunction but did not determine whether the plaintiff was entitled to a permanent injunction. After a bench trial, the trial court entered a "Final Order and Judgment." Defendant filed “what purported to be a postjudgment motion, which the trial court denied on November 11, 2008. On December 22, 2008, Hall filed a notice of appeal to this Court.” The Court dismissed the appeal because it was not from a final judgment that disposed of all of the claims against all of the parties. "’ [I]t is not the title of an order that makes it final; rather, the test of a judgment’s finality is whether it sufficiently ascertains and declares the rights of the parties.’ Ex parte DCH Recr’l Med. Gtr., 572 So. 2d 1162, 1164 (Ala. Civ. App. 1990)(citing McCulloch v. Roberts, 290 Ala. 303, 276 So. 2d 425 (1973)).”

The Court explained that the trial court order was not final, “for several reasons. In fact, it fails to adequately ascertain and declare the rights of the parties in practically every conceivable manner. For example, the Moorer heirs’ trespass claim includes a claim seeking compensatory damages, but the order neither awards nor denies monetary relief. Such an order is not final. See Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London v. Southern Natural Gas Co., 939 So. 2d 21, 27-28 (Ala. 2006). Also, the Moorer heirs requested permanent injunctive relief, but the order neither awards nor denies such relief. Although the trial court may have intended to grant injunctive relief by simply entering a judgment in favor of the Moorer heirs, it did not do so, and it followed none of the mandatory requirements of Rule 65 (d)(2), Ala. R. Civ. P. See Appalachian Transp. Group, Inc. v. Parks, 738 So. 2d 878, 883 (Ala. 1999). Further, the trial court’s order does not locate or define the relevant boundary line, see § 35-3-3, Ala. Code 1975, or otherwise declare the rights of the parties with regard to the disputed strip. The trial court’s order did not conclusively determine the issues before it, nor did it ascertain or declare the rights of the parties. Consequently, the order is not a final judgment, and this appeal must be dismissed.“