Justia Civil Procedure Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Alabama Supreme Court
Campbell et al. v. Taylor et al.
A series of appeals before the Alabama Supreme Court involved a challenge to the disposition of the estate of A.V. Campbell, Sr., who died in 1977. He had at least four children: A.V. Campbell, Jr., William J. Campbell, Sr., Ethel C. Taylor, and Archie Paul Campbell. His will was admitted to probate in 1977; those proceedings languished in the probate court until 2005. During this time, A.V., Jr., and Archie Paul Campbell died. Ethel was ultimately named the executrix of the estate. In 2005, Gladys Campbell, one of Archie Paul Campbell's descendants, filed a petition to remove the probate proceedings to the Baldwin Circuit Court. She alleged, among other things, that Ethel, as the executrix, had failed to have the estate's property devised under the terms of the will. After several hearings, in 2006, the circuit court issued a judgment that, among other things, distributed property according to the testator's will. Specifically, certain property was awarded separately to (1) Ethel, (2) to Paula and Gladys, and (3) to "the heirs at law of William J. Campbell[, Sr.]." Jewel appealed that judgment, and the Supreme Court affirmed without issuing an opinion. In 2009, the underlying action was filed in the Baldwin Circuit Court: plaintiffs purported to be the heirs of William J. Campbell, Sr. Some plaintiffs participated in the 2005 circuit court action; others did not. This new action was described as a "complaint to set aside judicial decree" and was alleged to be filed "pursuant to Rule 60(b) of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure as an independent action to set aside the 2006 judgment. The plaintiffs contended that, as the heirs of William J. Campbell, Sr., they were also heirs of A.V. Campbell, Sr., and were thus entitled to certain ownership interests in the property distributed in the 2005 circuit court action. Furthermore, plaintiffs alleged that they had not all been "named as parties" in the 2005 circuit court action at the time of the final adjudication," and "not subject to" and "not bound by" the 2006 judgment, and they asked that it be set aside. After various motions and after granting a motion by the defendants to strike certain affidavit testimony filed by plaintiffs, the trial court entered summary judgment in favor of Ethel. Plaintiffs appealed, and the Court of Civil Appeals dismissed the appeal as being from a nonfinal judgment. Proceedings resumed in the trial court; Ethel and the remaining defendants moved for a summary judgment. In case no. 1110057, plaintiffs appealed the summary judgment in favor of the defendants. In case no. 1110104, Paula and Gladys cross-appealed the trial court's denial of their motion to strike. In case no. 1110057, Jewel Campbell, Acie A. Campbell, William J. Campbell, Jr., Roy J. Campbell, Eva Campbell, William C. Campbell, Kelly Calvert, and Amanda Givens appealed summary judgment in favor of Ethel C. Taylor, Paula Buettner, Gladys A. Campbell, Jason Bennett, and Mendi Bennett. In case no. 1110104, Paula Buettner and Gladys A. Campbell cross-appealed the denial of their motion to strike certain affidavits filed by plaintiffs in opposition to the defendants' summary judgment motion. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment in case no. 1110057; its holding in case no. 1110057 rendered moot the cross-appeal in case no. 1110104. View "Campbell et al. v. Taylor et al. " on Justia Law
In re: Sherrod et al. v. Webber
Larry Webber petitioned for a writ of mandamus to direct the circuit court to vacate his order denying his motion to dismiss an action filed against him by Donald Sherrod, Helen Sherrod, and State Farm Fire and Casualty Company ("State Farm"). The Sherrods hired Webber to paint inside their house. The Sherrods and State Farm alleged that Webber and his employees did not cover objects in the house before painting and that overspraying damaged the walls, floors, countertops, fixtures, appliances, and a number of items of personal property in the house. Donald Sherrod sued Webber in the small-claims court. Helen was not a party to the small-claims-court action. Sherrod won, and Webber paid the judgment. The Sherrods sued Webbr again, this time in Circuit Court - the only difference this time was that Helen was added as a party. In her affidavit filed for the circuit court action, Helen Sherrod stated that State Farm paid them "for damage to the flooring, walls and interior of the home. State Farm did not pay us for the damage to any of the personal property because the damage to the personal property [was] not covered by our policy." In response to the circuit court action, Webber moved to dismiss the complaint, asserting that the action was barred by the doctrine of res judicata and the prohibition against double recovery. The circuit court denied Webber's motion to dismiss without explaining its reasons. The Supreme Court concluded that res judicata barred the Sherrods and State Farm from bringing the circuit-court action. Accordingly, the circuit court should have granted Webber's motion for a summary judgment on all the claims against him. View "In re: Sherrod et al. v. Webber" on Justia Law
In re: O.S. and J.A.S. v. E.S.
O.S. and J.A.S. petitioned for a writ of certiorari to review the Court of Civil Appeals' decision affirming the judgment of the circuit court in favor of E.S. setting aside a final judgment of adoption by the Probate Court of Walker County The Court granted certiorari review solely to determine whether the circuit court had jurisdiction to consider E.S.'s independent action seeking to set aside the probate court's judgment of adoption. Concluding that the circuit court did not have jurisdiction, the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court order and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "In re: O.S. and J.A.S. v. E.S." on Justia Law
Chamberlain v. AutoSource Motors, LLC
AutoSource Motors, LLC petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to direct the Montgomery Circuit Court: (1) to vacate its order denying AutoSource's motion to dismiss the action filed against it by Stephanie Chamberlain for lack of personal jurisdiction; and (2) to enter an order granting AutoSource's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The controversy arose when Chamberlain purchased a vehicle from AutoSource via the Internet. Chamberlain's affidavit did not rebut the prima facie showing made by AutoSource in that her affidavit failed to establish that AutoSource was subject to suit in Alabama pursuant to either general personal jurisdiction or specific personal jurisdiction; consequently, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court erred in denying AutoSource's motion to dismiss Chamberlain's complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. AutoSource demonstrated a clear legal right to the relief it sought; the Supreme Court granted its petition and issued the writ. View "Chamberlain v. AutoSource Motors, LLC" on Justia Law
Russell v. Fuqua
Keone Kaukawele Fuqua ("the father") filed a petition asking that the Probate Court allow him to change the legal name of his daughter from Lyvia Grace Russell to Lyvia Grace Russell-Fuqua. Megan Marie Russell ("the mother") opposed the petition, and she appealed the court's court order granting the father's petition. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded the probate court had no subject-matter jurisdiction over the parties' name-change dispute, and therefore vacated the order and dismissed the appeal. View "Russell v. Fuqua " on Justia Law