Post-Judgment Motions Are Denied By Operation of Law on 90th Day After Filing, Not 91st

In Williamson v. Foutrth Avenue Supermarket, Inc., [Ms. 1070771] (Ala. Jan. 9, 2009), the Alabama Supreme Court dismissed an appeal as untimely, and clarified that a post-judgment motion is denied by operation of law on the 90th day after filing, not the 91st.

Williamson  timely filed post-judgment motions on Sunday, October 14, 2007.  Because it was a Sunday, the motions were deemed filed on Monday, October 15, 2007.  Pursuant to Rule 59.1, the motions were denied by operation of law.   On February 26, 2008, Williams filed a notice of appeal.

The appellee filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, saying that the motions were denied by operation of law on Monday, January 15 (after the 90th day fell on a weekend).  Because the notice of appeal was filed 43 days after that date, it was untimely.

Williamson, however, argued that the denial did not become effective until Tuesday, January 16, the 91st day, and counting from that date, the appeal was timely. Williamson reasoned that the trial court had until midnight of the 90th day to rule and that, therefore, the motions could not be deemed denied until the 91st day.

The Supreme Court agreed with the appellee and dismissed the appeal.  Acknowledging that some language in prior cases may have caused some confusion, the Supreme Court clarified the issue:

To eliminate any confusion caused by contrary of imprecise language in previous caselaw, we now reiterate that, consistent with the express language of Rule 59.1, Ala. R. Civ. P., a failure by the trial court to dispose of any postjudgment motion during the period specified in Rule 59.1 constitutes a denial of the motion "as of the date of the expiration of the period." Rule 59.1, Ala. R. Civ. P. That is, a postjudgment motion not otherwise ruled upon is denied as a matter of law on the 90th day after the motion is filed, or, where applicable, on the last day of any extension of the 90-day period. . . . Thus, the time for filing a notice of appeal begins to run on the 90th day following the filing of a postjudgment motion, absent a ruling on the motion by the trial court or a valid extension of the 90-day period.

Slip Op. pp. 7-8 (emphasis added by Court).