State of Alabama et al.
Estate of Frances Ann Yarbrough, deceased, et al
Released for Publication January 20, 2015.
Appeal from St. Clair Circuit Court. (CV-05-0246). James E. Hill, Jr., Trial Judge.
For Appellants: Andrew L. Brasher and Megan A. Kirkpatrick, deputy attys. gen.; and Richard H. Cater, chief legal counsel, and Jerry Carpenter, deputy atty. gen., Department of Finance.
For Estate of Frances Ann Yarbrough, Appellee: Brandi C. Williams of Church Harmon Brogdon & Williams, PC, Pell City.
PARKER, Justice. Stuart, Murdock, Main, Wise, and Bryan, JJ., concur. Moore, C.J., and Bolin and Shaw, JJ., concur in the result.
The State of Alabama, the Alabama Department of Finance, and the Comptroller of the State of Alabama (hereinafter collectively referred to as " the State" ), nonparties to the underlying action, appeal from the St. Clair Circuit Court's order denying the State's motion to intervene as of right.
Facts and Procedural History
The circuit court set forth the relevant facts and procedural history in its order of October 15, 2013, as follows:
" This matter came before the Court on July 11, 2013, for a hearing on the Motion to Intervene filed by the State of Alabama, the Alabama Department of Finance, the Alabama Comptroller (the 'State') and the State's Rule 60(b)[, Ala. R. Civ. P.,] Motion for Relief from Judgment or Order ('Rule 60(b) Motion'), both of which motions were filed on June 25, 2013. ....
" Upon review and consideration of the State's Motion to Intervene, the State's Rule 60(b) Motion, the remaining pleadings in this matter, arguments by counsel of the State and the Estate [of Frances Ann Yarbrough, deceased ('the Estate')], and applicable law, this Court finds as follows:
" 1. This estate matter has been pending since 2001. In March 2012, this Court found that the decedent, Mrs. Frances Ann Yarbrough, died intestate
with no heirs that are in the line of descendant distribution under the laws of the State of Alabama; thus, in accordance with § 43-8-44, Ala. Code 1975, her assets escheated to the State of Alabama.
" 2. By order dated March 19, 2012, this Court ordered the Estate to pay certain expenses of the Estate, and then to pay the balance of the Estate's funds to the State of Alabama. In that same order, this Court ordered the State of Alabama to pay the escheated funds to the St. Clair County's Circuit Clerk's office to be used by the Clerk 'to rehire some of the employees lost to proration.'
" 3. On May 7, 2012, a check in the amount of $247,850.17 was mailed to the State of Alabama with a copy of this Court's March 19th order.
" 4. Following receipt of the Estate's check and this Court's order, on or about May 15, 2012, the State of Alabama, through Assistant Attorney General J. Matt Bledsoe, contacted the Estate's counsel, Brandi Williams, to receive assistance from the Estate in seeking a modification of this Court's March 19th order.
" 5. The State, through its counsel Mr. Bledsoe, stated that the Estate's escheated funds must be used or applied in furtherance of education in accordance with the Alabama Constitution. Notably, the State, through its counsel Mr. Bledsoe, declared that it had no objection to disbursing the Estate's escheated assets to the Pell City Board of Education and the St. Clair County Board of Education.
" 6. Based on that representation, the Estate moved this Court to Alter, Amend, or Vacate its March 19th order to direct the State of Alabama to pay the Estate's escheated assets to the Pell City Board of Education and the St. Clair County Board of Education. In that motion, the Estate informed the Court that 'the Attorney General's Office ha[d] no objection to the balance of the Estate of Frances Ann Yarbrough being paid by the State of Alabama to the St. Clair County Board of Education and the Pell City Board of Education.'
" 7. This Court granted the Estate's motion and entered an amended order on May 22, 2012, directing the State of Alabama to pay the Estate's escheated assets to the Pell City Board of Education and the St. Clair County Board of Education.
" 8. By letter dated June 7, 2012, the State, through its counsel Deputy Attorney General Jerry Carpenter, objected to this Court's May 22nd order. This Court treated Mr. Carpenter's letter as a Motion to Alter, Amend, or Vacate, filed the letter with the circuit clerk on June 13, 2012, and set the matter for a hearing on July 12, 2012.
" 9. Because the State was not a party to this matter, the State apparently did not receive direct notice of the July 12th hearing. The Estate's counsel, Ms. Williams, however, provided the State notice of the hearing by e-mail to Mr. Bledsoe.
" 10. The State did not appear at the July 12th hearing, and this Court denied the relief requested by the State through its June 7th letter by an order dated July 17, 2012.
" 11. Thereafter, on August 15, 2012, the State filed a formal Motion for Reconsideration of this Court's denial of the relief requested in the State's June 7th letter.
" 12. This Court denied the State's Motion for Reconsideration on August 16, 2012.
" 13. On August 28, 2012, the State appealed this Court's May 22nd order to the Alabama Supreme Court."
On June 20, 2013, this Court dismissed the State's appeal (case no. 1111546) without prejudice. In addition to dismissing without prejudice the State's appeal, this Court's order stated:
" IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the appellants, the State of Alabama, the Alabama Department of Finance, and the Comptroller of the State of Alabama, may intervene in the underlying action for purposes of taking an appeal from the final judgment in this cause; and that the appellants may take a timely appeal after the St. Clair Circuit Court issues an order granting the ...