Alabama Supreme Court Refuses to Consider Argument of Untimeliness of Answer. Although Appellant Argued in the Trial Court that the Appellee’s Answer Was Untimely Filed, It Argued So For a Different Reason

In Maloof v. John Hancock Life Ins. Co., No. 1090864, the Alabama Suprme Court reiterated the long-standing rule that it will not review an argument not presented to the trial court. 

In Maloof, the appellant argued that the trial court’s summary judgment was improper because it was based on affirmative defenses that were raised in the appelle’s untimely answer.  In the trial court, the appellants argued that the untimeliness was due to the appellee’s failure to file its  answer for more than 550 days after it was due.  Elsewhere in the trial court and in the appellate court, however,  the appellant argued that  the answer was untimely because it was not filed within 30 days after the summonses and complaints were served.  

Although the trial court had entered a limited stay that held the times for filing an answer in abeyance, the appellants failed to address the significance of the stay on appeal or in the trial court.  Rather, they argued only that the answer was late because it wasn’t filed within 30 days after the summonses and complaint were filed.  But, in light of the stay entered by they trial court, the relevant issue was whether the answers were late because they were not filed for almost a year after the stay was lifted.  Because that was not an issue that was raised by the appellants in either the trial court or the appellate court, there was no basis on which to hold that the trial court’s summary judgment (which was based on the affirmative defenses raised in the answer) was in error.