Justia Alabama Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Alabama Supreme Court
Meeks v. Morrow
John and Oretha Meeks appealed the grant of partial summary judgment in favor of Roderick Morrow and Merchants & Farmers Bank. Because it appeared that the judgment from which the Meekses purported to appeal was not a final judgment, the Supreme Court's clerk’s office remanded the cause to the trial court, which then certified its order as final pursuant to Rule 54(b), Ala. R. Civ. P. After review of the case, the Supreme Court concluded that the trial court’s certification was not proper and the judgment was not made final. Therefore, the Court dismissed the appeal. View "Meeks v. Morrow " on Justia Law
Norris v. Fayette County Commission
Hubert Norris appealed the grant of summary judgment to the Fayette County Commission and the dismissal of his petition for a writ of mandamus. Norris held the office of Sheriff of Fayette County for consecutive four-year terms beginning June 1974 until his resignation in May 1989. As sheriff, Norris participated in the county's supernumerary sheriffs' benefit program. During his fourth term in office, Norris resigned pursuant to a plea agreement in federal court. As part of the agreement, Norris pleaded guilty to multiple federal felonies, including racketeering, bribery, and tax evasion. Norris was convicted and sentenced to 37 months in prison. Norris later received a full pardon from the Alabama State Board of Pardons and Paroles, which restored all of his civil and political rights that had been forfeited by virtue of his conviction. Several years later, the then-Governor appointed Norris as supernumerary sheriff of Fayette County. The Commission petitioned to have Norris excluded from office. The Fayette Circuit Court issued the writ, and Norris appealed. On appeal, the Supreme Court held that Norris was precluded from serving as supernumerary sheriff after having received a pardon. Norris ran for and was reelected as Sheriff of Fayette County several years later. Norris served as sheriff, and he contributed to the supernumerary sheriffs' benefit program for each of those years. The State of Alabama again petitioned for a writ of quo warranto, alleging that Norris had unlawfully held his office, but this time the circuit court ruled in favor of Norris. Norris ended up serving out his term as sheriff. But toward the end of that term, the Commission sought a legal opinion from the attorney general regarding the county's obligation to pay Norris any supernumerary sheriff's benefits. Norris filed with then Governor Bob Riley a written declaration seeking to become a supernumerary sheriff for Fayette County at the end of his term as sheriff; Norris stated in that declaration that he met all the requirements to be appointed as a supernumerary sheriff. Governor Riley commissioned Norris as supernumerary sheriff of Fayette County. The Commission sought another legal opinion from the attorney general regarding whether Norris's appointment by Governor Riley affected the status of Norris with regard to his supernumerary benefits. The attorney general advised the Commission that, because Governor Riley had already appointed Norris as supernumerary sheriff, the question was moot. Months later Governor Riley's chief legal advisor purported to rescind Norris's appointment after learning of his felony conviction. Norris responded by filing a petition for a writ of mandamus compelling payment of past and future supernumerary sheriff's benefits. The trial court entered a summary judgment in favor of the Commission, concluding as a matter of law that Norris had not served as sheriff for the requisite number of years as required by law, and that Governor Riley's appointment of Norris as supernumerary sheriff was void ab initio; the trial court therefore dismissed Norris's petition for a writ of mandamus. Because the trial court correctly held that, as a matter of law, Norris did not meet the statutory requirements to be appointed a supernumerary sheriff, Norris was not entitled to the mandamus relief he requested. Accordingly, the Supreme Court concluded the trial court did not err in entering a summary judgment in favor of the Commission and in dismissing Norris's petition for a writ of mandamus. View "Norris v. Fayette County Commission " on Justia Law
Hall v. Jones
Chad Jones petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to direct the Circuit Court to vacate its order denying his motion for a summary judgment in an action filed against him by Latonya Hall, individually and as mother and next friend of Demetrius Hall, a minor, and Maurice Caffie, individually (collectively referred to as "Hall"), and to enter a summary judgment in his favor on the basis of State-agent immunity. Jones was employed as a physical-education teacher at Gresham Middle School and Demetrius Hall and Michael Boyd were students. A fight between the young men broke out during a school basketball game. According to Demetrius, he was guarding Boyd tightly when Boyd became angry and threw the basketball at him, striking him in the face with the ball. Demetrius responded by pushing Boyd and throwing a punch. After the two exchanged insults, another student unexpectedly shoved Demetrius into Boyd, and Boyd responded by "slamming" Demetrius into some nearby metal stairs and striking him in the head. Demetrius was seriously injured as the result of the altercation. Jones contends that he was at the opposite end of the gym when the altercation occurred. Hall sued Jones, Sokol, and Sammy Queen, (another school physical-education teacher) asserting claims of negligence and wantonness and alleging that the defendants had breached their duty to reasonably supervise Demetrius and Boyd by leaving them unattended for an extended length of time. Concluding that Jones failed to demonstrate that he had a clear legal right to the relief sought, the Supreme Court denied his petition for a writ of mandamus. View " Hall v. Jones" on Justia Law
Gower v. Turquoise Properties Gulf, Inc., et al.
Charles Gower petitioned the Supreme Court to vacate an arbitration award in favor of Turquoise Properties Gulf, Inc., Caribe Realty, Inc., Larry Wireman, and Judy Ramsey Wireman(collectively, "Turquoise"). The underlying dispute arose from Gower's preconstruction agreement to purchase a condominium unit in a complex developed by Turquoise. The arbitrator's decision was based in large part on Turqoise's successfully raising a statute-of-limitations defense to Gower's claims. The Supreme Court found that Turquoise expressly argued, and then abandoned, one specific statute-of-limitations defense and then it never again urged the arbitrator to apply a statute of limitations to the various claims actually brought by the claimants. Through its arguments, Turquoise distilled the issues and arguments submitted to the arbitrator for consideration. Gower argued, and the Supreme Court agreed, that Turquoise "affirmatively chose to forgo any statute of limitations defense to the [c]laimants' ... claims and therefore did not submit [the] same to the Arbitrator for decision." Therefore, the Supreme Court concluded that because the issue of the applicability of a statute of limitations was not submitted to the arbitrator for decision, the arbitrator exceeded his powers in applying a statute of limitations to Gower's claims. The Court reversed the judgment entered on the arbitrator's award, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Gower v. Turquoise Properties Gulf, Inc., et al. " on Justia Law
Cavalier Manufacturing, Inc. v. Gant
Cavalier Manufacturing, Inc. appealed a circuit court order that denied its motion to alter, amend, or vacate an arbitration award entered in favor of Janie Gant. Gant purchased a mobile home manufactured by Cavalier from Demopolis Home Center, L.L.C. ("DHC"). At the time of purchase, Gant and representatives of Cavalier and DHC executed an alternative-dispute-resolution agreement in which they agreed to arbitrate any disputes that might arise among them stemming from Gant's purchase of the mobile home. The mobile home was also covered by a manufacturer's warranty issued by Cavalier that likewise contained a provision requiring arbitration of any disputes that might arise between her and Cavalier relating to the mobile home. Gant was not satisfied with the manner in which DHC delivered and installed the mobile home on her property. Eventually Gant sued, and the matter was submitted to arbitration. The arbitrator awarded Gant $45,550 on her breach-of-express-warranty claim, plus an additional sum to be determined for attorney fees. Cavalier argued on appeal that the trial court erred by confirming the arbitration award in favor of Gant. Finding no error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Cavalier Manufacturing, Inc. v. Gant " on Justia Law
White v. Bay Area Physicians for Women
Bay Area Physicians for Women ("BAPW") petitioned for a writ of mandamus to direct the Baldwin Circuit Court to vacate an order entered by that court on November 8, 2012, which reinstated a medical-malpractice case filed against BAPW and transferred the case to the Mobile Circuit Court. The Supreme Court concluded BAPW did not include a statement of circumstances constituting good cause for the Supreme Court to consider vacating the November 8, 2012 order, notwithstanding that it was filed more than seven months after the Baldwin Circuit Court entered it. Accordingly, insofar as BAPW's petition for a writ of mandamus sought vacatur of the Baldwin Circuit Court's order, the Court dismissed the petition as untimely. View "White v. Bay Area Physicians for Women" on Justia Law
Parker Towing Company, Inc. v. Triangle Aggregates, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's judgment in this case to the extent that it concluded Parker Towing was not entitled to indemnity for $25,000 it paid landowners in settlement of landowners' claims against it. The landowners sued Parker Towing and Triangle Aggregates, Inc. stemming from their claims of breach of contract pertaining to properties they originally leased to Parker, which were subsequently purchased by Triangle. Parker argued it was not liable for the landowners' claims following its sale of the properties to Triangle. However, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court's judgment with respect to its conclusion that Triangle was not required to indemnify Parker Towing for its attorney fees and other litigation expenses incurred to defend against the claims asserted against Parker Towing for breaches of the agreements with the landowners. The fees and expenses incurred by Parker Towing as a result of those breaches were covered by the indemnification agreement between Parker Towing and Triangle. View "Parker Towing Company, Inc. v. Triangle Aggregates, Inc. " on Justia Law
Terry v. Terry
The Supreme Court granted father Adam Terry's petition for certiorari to consider whether the appellate court erred by reversing the trial court's judgment enjoining Emily Terry (mother) from relocating from Lawrence County to Charleston, South Carolina, with their son. The Court of Civil Appeals' held that the trial court erred in concluding that the mother did not meet her burden of rebutting the section 30–3–169.4 presumption that the move to South Carolina was not in the child's best interest. The Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court's judgment to that end. However, insofar as the judgment directed the trial court to enter a judgment in favor of the mother on remand, that portion was reversed, and the case remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Terry v. Terry" on Justia Law
Hardy Corporation v. Rayco Industrial, Inc.
Gambro Renal Products, Inc. hired The Facility Group, Inc. ("TFG"), as the general contractor for the construction of a facility designed to produce kidney dialysis filters in Opelika. TFG contracted with the Hardy Corporation for specialized piping work on the project. Absolute Welding Services, Inc. ("AWS"), is a subsidiary of Rayco Industrial, Inc., a subsubcontractor hired by Hardy. Although the negotiations on the subcontract at issue in these appeals were between AWS and Hardy, the subcontract was executed by Rayco and Hardy. A dispute arose over whether the exclusion of "passivation" and the installation of piping in Rayco's offer was incorporated into its subcontract. Rayco filed a complaint against Hardy, Gambro and 15 fictitiously named parties, seeking an accounting, a declaratory judgment, a reformation of the contract, and perfection of a lien. Rayco asserted claims for damages for breach of contract, unjust enrichment/quantum meruit, and "work and labor done." Both parties unhappy with the eventual trial court order resolving the dispute, appealed the order. After careful consideration of the contracts and the trial court record, the Supreme Court reversed in part, and affirmed in part. The case was remanded with instructions for further proceedings. View "Hardy Corporation v. Rayco Industrial, Inc. " on Justia Law
Kimbrough v. Safeway Insurance Company of Alabama, Inc.
Safeway Insurance Company of Alabama, Inc. petitioned for a writ of mandamus to direct the Circuit Court to grant its Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss a bad-faith claim against it for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Richard Kimbrough submitted a claim to Safeway for uninsured-motorist coverage when he was injured in an accident. A deer ran across the road, causing a truck in the southbound lane to swerve into the northbound lane, where Kimbrough was driving. According to Kimbrough, the truck struck his vehicle and ran him off the road and into a creek bed. The driver of the truck allegedly fled and was unknown. Kimbrough contended the driver of a "phantom vehicle" was an uninsured motorist. He sought the full policy limit of $50,000 because his expenses exceeded his coverage. The parties disputed whether Safeway denied the claim. After review of the matter, the Supreme Court disagreed with Safeway's argument that the Circuit Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the case. As such, Safeway did not demonstrate a clear legal right to the writ of mandamus. The Court therefore denied the petition. View "Kimbrough v. Safeway Insurance Company of Alabama, Inc." on Justia Law