Appeal from Jefferson Circuit Court. (CV-95-1327). N. Daniel Rogers, TRIAL JUDGE.
Released for Publication April 26, 1996.
Maddox, Shores, Houston, Kennedy, Ingram, Cook, and Butts, JJ., concur. Hooper, C. J., concurs in part and Dissents in part.
See Rule 53(a)(1) and (a)(2)(E), Ala. R. App. P.
Maddox, Shores, Houston, Kennedy, Ingram, Cook, and Butts, JJ., concur.
Hooper, C.J., concurs in part and Dissents in part.
HOOPER, CHIEF JUSTICE (concurring in part and Dissenting in part).
I agree that the lower court's holding should be summarily affirmed with regard to the merits of the plaintiff's claims. However, I respectfully Dissent on the issue of sanctions. I would hold that the plaintiff clearly is subject to the sanctions provisions of the Alabama Litigation Accountability Act, Ala. Code 1975, § 12-19-270 et seq. ("ALAA").
"(a) Except as otherwise provided in this article, in any civil action commenced or appealed in any court of record in this state, the court shall award, as part of its judgment and in addition to any other costs otherwise assessed, reasonable attorneys' fees and costs against any attorney or party, or both, who has brought a civil action, or asserted a claim therein, or interposed a defense, that a court determines to be without substantial justification, either in whole or part ... ."
Ala. Code 1975, § 12-19-272 (emphasis added). This section allows a court to impose attorney fees against parties who bring frivolous lawsuits. Frivolous claims against municipalities are not inconsequential. They are paid for by the people of Alabama, whose taxes must be used to pay (1) the city attorneys to defend the lawsuits; (2) the Judges and jury to decide them; and (3) the numerous employees who administer the judicial system.
Nonetheless, there are special requirements for sanctioning "pro se" plaintiffs. The ALAA states:
"No [pro se party] ... shall be assessed attorneys' fees unless the court finds that the party clearly knew or reasonably should have known that his action, claim or defense or any part ...