Misapprehension of the “Fewer Than All Claims Rule” Leads to Dismissal of Appeal

In Lloyd v. Cook, released last week, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals dismissed the appeal as untimely filed and demonstrated–once again–the importance of the rule that an order adjudicating fewer than all the claims is not a final judgment.  

In this case, the Lloyds sued the Cooks, alleging that the Cooks intentionally interfered with the Lloyd’s business relationship with Willie’s World Flea Market.  The Cooks moved to dismiss the complaint, asserted their own counterclaims, and moved for summary judgment on the intentional interference claims. 

On June 15, 2009, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Cooks as to the intentional interference claims.  The Lloyds filed a motion to reconsider that order on July 7, 2009.  On October 6, 2009, the parties filed a joint stipulation dismissing the Cook’s counterclaims with prejudice.  Following some additional wrangling, the Lloyds filed their notice of appeal on March 17, 2010. 

The appeal was dismissed as untimely for this reason: The June 15, 2009 partial summary judgment disposed of the Lloyd’s claims against the Cooks, but was not a final judgment because the counterclaims asserted by the Cooks remained pending.  On October 6, 2009, when the parties filed a joint stipulation dismissing those counterclaims, the June 15, 2009 order became final and the time to appeal began to run.  Because the Lloyds waited until March 17, 2010 to file their notice of appeal, it was untimely and the appeal was due to be dismissed.