Yet another appeal was dismissed for failure to follow the rules for appealing arbitration awards. In Lindsey v. Deep South Properties, LLC, [Ms. 1080701] (Ala. Aug. 21, 2009), Deep South Properties obtain an arbitration award against Lindsey. Deep South filed a copy of the award with the circuit court and moved the court to enter judgment on the award, which it did. Lindsey then filed a notice of appeal to the Supreme Court. However, under Horton Homes, Inc. v. Shaner, 999 So. 2d 462 (Ala. 2008), and now Ala. R. Civ. P. 71B and 71C, Lindsey was required to file a motion to vacate the award in the trial court within 30 days of the entry of the judgment. The motion to vacate in the trial court is a necessary prerequisite to filing an appeal,and the failure to file the motion prior to the appeal required that the appeal be dismissed.
One issue which has been the subject of many recent Alabama Supreme Court opinions is the proper procedure by which to review arbitration awards in the trial court. In response to these cases, the court has instuituted new rules setting out the proper procedure. These rules went into effect on February 1, 2009. Be sure to check our the new Ala. R. Civ. P. 71B and 71C for the procedures to be followed.
In Championcomm.net of Tuscaloosa, Inc. v. Morton, [Ms. 1070488] (Jan. 9, 2009), the Alabama Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of an arbitration award because there was no "final judgment." Ala. Code 6-6-15 sets out the procedure by which an arbitration award may be appealed, and it states that "the clerk or register shall enter the [arbitration] award as the judgment of the court." In this case, although the arbitration award was filed with the court, it was never "entered" by the clerk as a judgment. Therefore, because there was no final judgment which had been entered, the Supreme Cout lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeal, and the appeal was dismissed.
In Horton Homes, Inc. v. Shaner, Ms. 1061659, 1061741 (Ala. June 20, 2008), the Alabama Supreme Court attempted to clarify the procedure for appealing an arbitrator’s decision. Specifically, in its Per Curiam opinion, the Court "address[ed] two aspects of that procedure, namely: (1) the time period for filing an appeal of an arbitration award, and (2) the role of the circuit court in reviewing that arbitration award." Slip Op. p. 2-3.
In short, a party has 42 days from the date of receipt of notice to file an appeal of the arbitrator’s award in the circuit court. Further, a party challenging an award is required to file a motion to vacate the award, and that motion is subject to the procedures of Ala. R. Civ. P. 59 and 59.1.