January 16, 2015
Troy T. Williams
Capital One Bank (USA), N.A., and Holloway & Moxley, L.L.P
from Madison Circuit Court. (CV-13-135).
T. Williams, Appellant, Pro se.
Appellee: Joshua H. Threadcraft of Burr & Forman LLP,
Birmingham, for Capital One Bank (USA), N.A.
Judge. Thompson, P.J., and Pittman, Thomas, and Donaldson,
Williams appeals from a February 3, 2014, judgment of the
Madison Circuit Court (" the circuit court" )
dismissing his appeal from a judgment of the Madison District
Court (" the district court" ) in favor of Capital
One Bank (USA), N.A. (" Capital One" ), and Capital
One's collection agency, Holloway & Moxley, L.L.P.
(" Holloway" ). We affirm the judgment dismissing
the appeal, albeit with instructions to the circuit court.
December 20, 2010, Capital One filed a complaint against
Williams in the district court, asserting that Williams owed
$4,078.83 on an account stated between Capital One and
Williams. On January 18, 2011, Capital One sought a default
judgment against Williams for failure to answer or otherwise
defend against the complaint. On January 21, 2011, the
district court entered a default judgment in favor of Capital
One in the amount of $4,078.83, plus court costs and
September 14, 2011, Williams filed in the district court an
" affidavit of status as secured party and
creditor" in which he declared himself a member of the
" Sovereign People of the Free Republic of Alabama"
and sought the withdrawal of any " adverse
information" from his credit records and relief from the
default judgment. On October 11, 2011, Williams filed in the
district court a motion to dismiss, in which he stated, among
other things, that " [t]his notice is a trespass in
admiralty." Williams also filed in the district court a
" common law copyright notice," purporting to
reserve rights regarding the copyright and trademark of his
name. On November 9, 2011, the district court denied
Williams's motion requesting that the case be dismissed.
September 16, 2013, Williams filed in the district court an
independent action seeking to set aside the default judgment.
In the pleading initiating the action, Williams asserted,
among other things, that Capital One and Holloway had
committed fraud upon the court. Williams also asserted in his
pleading, based on his assertion of fraud upon the court,
various claims against Capital One and Holloway, and he
sought damages in the amount of $128,000,000. On September
23, 2013, the district court entered an order that stated:
" The Court having lost jurisdiction in this matter,
[Williams's] MOTION TO SET ASIDE is hereby DENIED."
On October 3, 2013, Williams filed a " motion to
reconsider -- motion to amend complaint." In that
postjudgment motion, Williams purported to amend his claims
Capital One and Holloway, asserting fraud upon the court, to
reduce the requested amount of damages to $2,900, so that his
claims would remain within the district court's
jurisdiction. See Ala. Code 1975, § 12-12-31(a)
(providing that the district court has exclusive jurisdiction
over all civil actions in which the matter in controversy
does not exceed $3,000). As argued by Capital One on appeal,
Williams's October 3, 2013, postjudgment motion was
denied by operation of law on October 17, 2013, pursuant to
Rule 59.1(dc), Ala. R. Civ. P. On October 22, 2013, Williams
filed a document titled " addendum -- motion to amend
complaint," again seeking to set aside the default
judgment based upon fraud upon the court and, for the first
time, citing Rule 60(b), Ala. R. Civ. P. That motion was a
successive postjudgment motion, however, seeking
substantially the same relief as Williams's October 3,
2013, motion; thus, that motion did not toll the time for
taking an appeal. See Green v. Green, 43 So.3d 1242,
1243-44 (Ala.Civ.App. 2009). On November 1, 2013, the
district court entered an order purporting to deny
Williams's " motion to reconsider" ; however,
that order was a nullity because the motion had already been
denied by operation of law on October 17, 2013. See
Moragne v. Moragne, 888 So.2d 1280, 1282
(Ala.Civ.App. 2004); and Rule 59.1(dc).
filed an appeal to the circuit court on November 12, 2013.
Capital One and Holloway filed a motion to dismiss the appeal
on the basis that the appeal had been untimely filed. On
February 3, 2014, the circuit court entered an order granting
the motion to dismiss. Williams filed a postjudgment motion
on February 28, 2014; that motion was denied by the circuit
court on April 10, 2014. Additionally, in the circuit
court's April 10, 2014, order denying Williams's
postjudgment motion, the circuit court awarded attorney's
fees in the amount of $1,112.50 as a sanction against
Williams, as requested by Capital One and Holloway. Williams
filed his notice of appeal to this court on May 15, 2014.
One argues on appeal that the circuit court lacked
jurisdiction and, therefore, that it properly dismissed
Williams's appeal from the district court. This court
outlined the appropriate standard of review in M.E.W. v.
J.W., 142 So.3d 1168, 1171 (Ala.Civ.App. 2013):
" 'The timely filing of a notice of appeal is a
jurisdictional act.' Rudd v. Rudd, 467 So.2d
964, 965 (Ala.Civ.App. 1985); see also Committee Comments to
Rule 3, Ala. R. App. P. The question whether the mother's
appeal was timely and, thus, whether the circuit court
acquired subject-matter jurisdiction over the mother's
appeal is a question of law; thus, we review de novo the
dismissal of the mother's appeal by the circuit court.
See Banks v. Estate of Woodall, 129 So.3d 294
(Ala.Civ.App. 2013); see also Ex parte Terry, 957
So.2d 455 (Ala. 2006) (stating that a claim that a court
lacks subject-matter jurisdiction presents a question of law,
which an appellate court reviews de novo)."
discussed above, Williams's October 3, 2013, postjudgment
motion was denied by operation of law on October 17, 2013.
" A notice of appeal from a judgment of a district court
must be filed 'within 14 days from the date of the
judgment or the denial of a posttrial motion, whichever is
later.' Ala. Code 1975, § 12-12-70(a)."
McCaskill v. McCaskill, 111 So.3d 736, 737
(Ala.Civ.App. 2012). Williams filed his notice of appeal to
the circuit court on November 12, 2013, well over 14 days
following the denial by operation of law of his October 3,
2013, postjudgment motion. Thus, that notice of appeal was
untimely, and the circuit court never acquired jurisdiction
over Williams's appeal. See Ryans v. State ex rel.
Stoudmire, 963 So.2d 95, 96 (Ala.Civ.App. 2007).
Although the circuit court properly dismissed Williams's
appeal, Williams proceeded to file a postjudgment motion from
that dismissal, and the circuit court purported to deny that
postjudgment motion and to award attorney's fees as a
sanction against Williams. Because the circuit court never
obtained jurisdiction over Williams's appeal, however, it
lacked jurisdiction to entertain any further motions or
pleadings. See Maclin v. Congo, 106 So.3d 405, 408
(Ala.Civ.App. 2012). Thus, the circuit court's April 10,
2014, order is void. Id.
on the foregoing, we affirm the circuit court's judgment
dismissing Williams's action for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction, albeit with instructions to the circuit court
to vacate its April 10, 2014, void order.
P.J., and Pittman, Thomas, and Donaldson, JJ., concur.
The appellee's brief was filed on
behalf of only Capital One.