Alabama Supreme Court Discusses Standard of Review Applicable to Ruling on Rule 60(b)(4) Motion Collaterally Attacking A Foreign Judgment

In Pirtek USA, LLC v. Whitehead et al., No 1071570, the Alabama Supreme Court restated the standard of review applicable to reviewing a ruling on a motion filed pursuant to Rule 60(b)(4) collaterally attacking a foreign judgment on the basis that the judgment is void for lack of jurisdiction.

Quoting Insurance Management & Adminsitration, Inc. v. Palomar Ins. Corp., 590 So.2d 209, 212 (Ala. 1991), the court stated: 

The standard of review on appeal from the denial [or granting] of relief under Rule 60(b)(4) is not whether there has been an abuse of discretion.  When the grant or denial of relief turns on the validity of the judgment, as under Rule 60(b)(4), discretion has no place.  If the judgment is valid, it must stand; if it is void, it must be set aside.  A judgment is void only if the court rendering it lacked jurisdiction of the subject matter or of the parties, or if it acted in a manner inconsistent with due process.

The court additionally noted that ‘the validity and effect of a foreign judgment, of course, are to be determined by the law of the state in which it was rendered."  Citing Forbes v. Davis, 65 So.516 (Ala. 1914).