Justia Alabama Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Civil Procedure
Mobile Infirmary Association v. Fagerstrom
The circuit court entered a judgment on a jury verdict in favor of plaintiff Wayne Fagerstrom, individually and as the administrator of the estate of Sylvia Fagerstrom, deceased. The defendants were Mobile Infirmary Association d/b/a Mobile Infirmary Medical Center ("MIMC") and Gulf Health Hospitals, Inc., d/b/a Thomas Hospital. Defendants argued on appeal that the trial court erred in denying their renewed motion for a judgment as a matter of law at the close of all the evidence, in which they asserted that plaintiff failed to offer sufficient evidence demonstrating that the proximate cause of Sylvia's death was sepsis resulting from an infected pressure ulcer allegedly caused by the defendants' breaches of the standard of care. After review, the Alabama Supreme Court agreed with defendants and reversed the trial court's judgment. View "Mobile Infirmary Association v. Fagerstrom" on Justia Law
Perez v. Roman’s Restaurant, L.L.C.
Plaintiff Octavi Perez appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Roman’s Restaurant, LLC, d/b/a Roman’s Night Club, on claims for damages under Alabama’s Dram Shop Act. In July 2019, 18-year-old Edgar Perez had been a patron of the nightclub and was killed when the vehicle he was driving left the roadway and hit a tree. An autopsy indicated Edgar was intoxicated at the time of his death. Plaintiff filed suit against Roman’s alleging it served alcoholic beverages to a minor, and Edgar’s subsequent intoxication precipitated Edgar’s death. Roman’s moved for summary judgment, arguing in relevant part that: (1) Plainitff lacked standing to sue on Edgar’s behalf because Plaintiff was neither Edgar’s parent nor stood in loco parentis; and (2) Plaintiff could not maintain an action under the Dram Shop Act because plaintiff had not been “injured in person, property or means of support.” The court record reflected Plaintiff was Edgar’s uncle, and Edgar contributed to the household expenses in the apartment he shared with Plaintiff and his father, Rigoberto Perez. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded the trial court did not err in entering summary judgment in Roman’s favor and affirmed. View "Perez v. Roman's Restaurant, L.L.C." on Justia Law
McMurray Contracting, LLC v. Hardy
McMurray Contracting, LLC ("McMurray"), appealed a circuit court's denial of its second motion to compel arbitration of this case commenced by Kenneth Hardy and his wife Helen Hardy. The Hardys filed suit in December 2022 alleging they "retained" McMurray to perform restoration work to their house damaged in Hurricane Sally. The Hardys specifically alleged that McMurray "did not complete all restoration work in a good and workmanlike manner, and has refused to correct numerous deficiencies through [the Hardys'] property," and that McMurray "performed work and charged for materials that were never approved." The Alabama Supreme Court found McMurray's notice of appeal was not timely filed so as to invoke the Supreme Court's jurisdiction. Accordingly, it dismissed McMurray's appeal. View "McMurray Contracting, LLC v. Hardy" on Justia Law
Hyundai Construction Equipment Americas, Inc.v. Southern Lift Trucks, LLC
Southern Lift Trucks, LLC ("Southern"), was an Alabama-based, heavy-equipment dealer for Hyundai Construction Equipment Americas, Inc. ("Hyundai Construction"). In May 2022, it filed suit against Hyundai Construction and its alleged parent company, Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. (collectively, "Hyundai") asserting various claims. It also sought a preliminary injunction to prevent Hyundai from, among other things, unlawfully allowing Hyundai's dealers to sell certain equipment in Southern's designated territories or advertising that other dealers are authorized to sell that equipment in Southern's territories. Following a hearing, the circuit court entered an order granting Southern's request for a preliminary injunction. After the circuit court issued its injunction order, Southern learned that another Hyundai dealer had allegedly sold some equipment in one of Southern's territories. As a result, Southern filed a petition seeking a finding of contempt and sanctions against Hyundai. Following a hearing, the circuit court entered an order granting Southern's contempt petition. Hyundai appealed that contempt order on due process grounds. Because Hyundai was not given adequate notice of all the contempt allegations asserted against it before the hearing on those allegations (as required by Rule 70A, Ala. R. Civ. P.), the Alabama Supreme Court reversed the contempt order and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Hyundai Construction Equipment Americas, Inc.v. Southern Lift Trucks, LLC" on Justia Law
Ex parte J.C. King III
The issue this case presented for the Alabama Supreme Court's review centered on the redemption of residential real property sold at a tax sale, specifically, the definition of the term "preservation improvements" as used in the applicable redemption statute, § 40-10-122, Ala. Code 1975. The property at issue had served as a rental home in a residential neighborhood. The property owner, J.C. King III, stopped paying property taxes in 2015 after a fire extensively damaged the property and rendered it uninhabitable. The State of Alabama purchased the property at a 2016 tax sale, and in 2019 the property was ultimately sold in its uninhabitable state to Anderson Realty Group, LLC ("ARG"). ARG spent $88,812 to extensively renovate and restore the property to a habitable condition, and in 2020 it filed a complaint seeking to quiet title to the property. King counterclaimed to redeem the property and disputed whether the extensive renovations to the property could be considered "preservation improvements" due to be included in the redemption amount pursuant to § 40-10-122(c). The trial court agreed with King, holding that "preservation improvements" included only those amounts expended by ARG to keep the property from further deterioration, the value of which it concluded was $10,000, and it entered a judgment setting the redemption amount accordingly. ARG appealed, and the Court of Civil Appeals reversed that judgment, holding that the trial court had erred in limiting the "preservation improvements" to the cost of repairs undertaken to keep the property in the same condition it was in at the time of the tax sale. To this, the Alabama Supreme Court concurred and affirmed the Court of Civil Appeals. View "Ex parte J.C. King III" on Justia Law
Ammons Properties, LLC v. Spraggins
Andrew Spraggins's driveway crossed a neighboring tract of land owned by Ammons Properties, LLC ("Ammons"). After a dispute arose between Spraggins and Ammons, Spraggins filed a complaint asking a circuit court to declare he had an easement for the portion of his driveway that crossed Ammons' property. Ammons filed a counterclaim alleging that Spraggins was liable for several tortious acts. Following a bench trial, the circuit court ruled that Spraggins had an easement across Ammons' property and denied Ammons' counterclaims. Ammons appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed the judgment. View "Ammons Properties, LLC v. Spraggins" on Justia Law
Ohio Valley Conference v. Jones, et al.
The Ohio Valley Conference ("the OVC" -- a collegiate athletic conference) appealed a judgment dismissing its official-capacity and individual-capacity claims against Randall Jones, the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Jacksonville State University ("JSU"), and Don C. Killingsworth, Jr., the President of Jacksonville State University. On February 3, 2021, JSU informed the OVC that it intended to resign its OVC membership effective June 30, 2021. OVC filed this action against JSU, Jones, and Killingsworth, seeking a declaratory judgment and alleging breach of contract -- focusing solely on JSU's failure to pay the conference-resignation fee described in Article 4.5.3 of the OVC Constitution. The complaint also asserted one count against JSU -- conversion -- focusing solely on the OVC's allegation that JSU had failed to pay $15,000 for tickets received from the OVC for the OVC's 2021 conference championship basketball tournament. The complaint also asserted two counts against JSU -- promissory estoppel and unjust enrichment -- that incorporated both the conference-resignation fee and the value of the tickets to the conference championship basketball tournament as elements of damages. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded: the OVC's claims against Jones and Killingsworth in their official capacities seeking payment for the liquidated amount of the conference-resignation fee and for the value of the tickets JSU received for the OVC's 2021 conference championship basketball tournament did not constitute claims against the State, and, therefore, they were not barred by State immunity. Accordingly, the circuit court erred in dismissing the OVC's official-capacity claims against Jones and Killingsworth. However, the Court found the OVC failed to state individual-capacity claims against Jones and Killingsworth for which relief could be granted because Jones and Killingsworth lacked any duty apart from their official positions to make the payments the OVC sought to recover and because the OVC's complaint did not supply the factual allegations necessary to support those individual-capacity claims. View "Ohio Valley Conference v. Jones, et al." on Justia Law
Berry v. PHH Mortgage Corporation
Debbie Berry appealed a circuit court's grant of summary judgment in favor of PHH Mortgage Corporation ("PHH") on PHH's ejectment claim and Berry's breach-of-contract counterclaim. The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed the judgment because Berry waived most of the arguments she raises on appeal by failing to address the effects of her prior settlement with PHH's predecessor and because her other appellate arguments failed to demonstrate that the circuit court erred. View "Berry v. PHH Mortgage Corporation" on Justia Law
Women’s Care Specialists, P.C. v. Potter
Consolidated appeals arose from an employment dispute between Dr. Margot Potter and her former employer, Women's Care Specialists, P.C. ("Women's Care"), and out of a dispute between Potter and three Women's Care employees: Dr. Karla Kennedy, Dr. Elizabeth Barron, and Beth Ann Dorsett ("the WC employees"). In case no. CV-21-903797, Potter alleged claims of defamation, tortious interference with a business relationship, and breach of contract against Women's Care. In case no. CV-21-903798, Potter alleged claims of defamation and tortious interference with a business relationship against the WC employees. After the cases were consolidated by the circuit court, Women's Care and the WC employees moved to compel arbitration on the basis that Potter's claims were within the scope of the arbitration provision in Potter's employment agreement with Women's Care and that the arbitration provision governed their disputes even though Potter was no longer a Women's Care employee. The trial court denied those motions. In appeal no. SC-2022-0706, the Alabama Supreme Court held Potter's breach of-contract claim and her tort claims against Women's Care were subject to arbitration. In appeal no. SC-2022-0707, the Court likewise held Potter's tort claims against the WC employees were subject to arbitration. The trial court's orders were denied and the cases remanded for further proceedings. View "Women's Care Specialists, P.C. v. Potter" on Justia Law
Sampson v. HeartWise Health Systems Corporation, et al.
Alicia Sampson ("Alicia"), as administratrix of the estate of her deceased husband, Joshua Sampson ("Josh"), appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of HeartWise Health Systems Corporation; HeartWise Clinic, LLC (collectively referred to as "HeartWise"); Isaac Health & Prevention Partners, LLC ("Isaac Health"); William Nixon, M.D.; and Jeffrey Saylor, M.D., in a wrongful-death action. At its HeartWise clinic, Isaac Health administered a battery of up to 31 physical tests that were intended "to assist in the detection of early evidence of vascular and cardiac abnormalities." In 2015, 29-year-old Josh visited the Isaac Health clinic. Months earlier, Josh's father died at age of 56 from "right ventricular dysplasia," which was a "congenital heart defect." Lowell's death led the Sampson family to seek heart evaluations to determine whether they had inherited the heart defect. Josh underwent the full battery of testing provided at the Isaac Health clinic; Josh's data from the left ventricular echocardiogram was within the "normal" range. Josh's mother, who also received the testing, stated that the nurse practitioner did not tell Josh in any way that he "needed to have any further diagnostic work-up or testing relative to his heart." On October 5, 2015, Josh collapsed at home while working on a construction project. He was taken to the Emergency Room, but died that day. The Sampson family procured a private autopsy; the report concluded that Josh died due to an arrhythmia secondary to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a congenital heart condition. Alicia thereafter filed suit against the clinic, HearWise and the doctors, alleging fraud and negligence. The Alabama Supreme Court reversed summary judgment entered in favor of Isaac Health and Drs. Nixon and Saylor with respect to Alicia's negligence allegations against them because those allegations were never properly presented to the circuit court for adjudication. The Court also reversed summary judgment in favor of HeartWise with respect to Alicia's fraud allegations against HeartWise because Alicia presented substantial evidence of Josh's reasonable reliance upon HeartWise's representations about its program. The Court affirmed summary judgment in favor of Isaac Health with respect to Alicia's fraud allegations against Isaac Health because Alicia failed to present substantial evidence that Josh's course of conduct would have changed if he had not seen HeartWise materials in the Isaac Health clinic's waiting room. The Court also affirmed summary judgment in favor of HeartWise with respect to Alicia's negligence allegations against HeartWise for multiple reasons. View "Sampson v. HeartWise Health Systems Corporation, et al." on Justia Law