The Court of Civil Appeals, on the first appeal of this case, held that the circuit court had wrongly considered evidence outside the pleadings in granting a motion to dismiss. On remand, the circuit court explained that, in fact, its decision had depended on nothing outside the pleadings. It then reentered its dismissal. The Court of Civil Appeals held that this was sufficient and that, given the trial court’s explanation, the “law of the case” doctrine did not bar a reentry of the original judgment. Drees v. Turner, No. 2080742 (Ala. Civ. App. Feb. 26, 2010).
In Bessemer Board of Ed. v. Tucker, Ms. 2070390 (Ala. Civ. App. June 20, 2008) , the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals addressed the application of the "law of the case" doctrine, and found that the doctrine is not inflexible. "The doctrine directs a court’s discretion; it does not limit a court’s power." Slip Op. p. 7. Thus, the court revisited its prior ruling regarding jurisdiction.
On a previous appeal of the same case, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed a summary judgment against a lessor’s fraud claim. That decision was not the “law of the case,” however, because it was premised on an issue the earlier decision did not reach — the merits of a logically prior contract claim. The trial court was thus free, after the first remand, to re-enter summary judgment against the fraud claim. This time, that judgment was affirmed. United Land Corp. v. Drummond Co., No. 1061342 (Ala. Mar. 7, 2008).
The application of the law of the case doctrine is on display in Stockton v. CKPD Development, No. 1060182 (Ala. July 13, 2007). In Stockton, the Alabama Supreme Court found that the law of the case doctrine prevented the Court from revisiting a prior ruling from the Court of Civil Appeals which had not been challenged by writ of certiorari.