Appeal from Jackson Circuit Court (CV-13-900139)
A judgment entered by a court of another state may be given the same legal effect as if it had been entered by an Alabama court, i.e., become "domesticated, " if the procedure established by the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act ("the Act"), § 6-9-230 et. seq., Ala. Code 1975, is followed. A judgment debtor who claims that the court in the other state did not have jurisdiction to enter the judgment that has been properly domesticated may seek to have that judgment vacated by filing a motion under Rule 60(b)(4), Ala. R. Civ. P. A ruling denying the Rule 60(b)(4) motion is appealable, but the time for taking the appeal cannot be tolled using the provisions of Rule 59.1, Ala. R. Civ. P.
For the purposes of this appeal, the facts are undisputed. Cindy Anderson, a Tennessee resident doing business as Summitville Grain Company ("Anderson"), filed suit in the General Sessions Court of Coffee County, Tennessee ("the Tennessee lawsuit"), against Alabama resident Gary Evans, doing business as Evans Dairy ("Evans"), and two other defendants. Evans was served with the summons and complaint in the Tennessee lawsuit through the use of certified mail sent to his address in Bryant, Alabama. Evans did not respond to the Tennessee lawsuit. On November 14, 2012, the Tennessee court entered a default judgment against Evans and the other two defendants, jointly and severally, for $15, 758.48 plus costs ("the Tennessee judgment").
On June 17, 2013, Anderson filed in the Jackson Circuit Court ("the circuit court") a document that she entitled a "complaint." That document states in its entirety:
"Comes now [Anderson] and files [the] Tennessee judgment under the provisions of Section 6-9-232 and Section 6-9-233 Code of Alabama 1975 as amended in accordance with the provisions of said Code Sections.
"A certified copy of the Foreign Judgment along with the Affidavit required by the Code Sections and copies of certified mail receipts where [Anderson] has mailed notice of the filing to [Evans and the other two defendants] and is providing proof of said mailing with the Clerk also in accordance with the provisions in Section 6-9-232 and Section 6-9-233 Code of Alabama, 1975."
The filing was docketed with a "CV" case number. No summons was submitted or issued along with the filing of the document Anderson described as a "complaint." As referenced in the document, Anderson also filed a copy of the Tennessee judgment and an affidavit from an attorney who represented Anderson in the Tennessee lawsuit. In his affidavit, the attorney described the Tennessee judgment, swore that Evans had been served in the Tennessee lawsuit, gave the last known address for Evans as the Bryant address, and stated that the Tennessee judgment was "valid, enforceable, and unsatisfied." See Ala. Code 1975, § 6-9-233(a) (requiring an affidavit containing this information to be filed when seeking to domesticate a foreign judgment).
On July 3, 2013, the circuit-court clerk issued a document entitled "Notice of Filing of Foreign Judgment." The document containing the CV case number that was assigned to Anderson's filing described the Tennessee judgment, contained the addresses of Anderson and of the attorney who represented her in the Tennessee lawsuit, and stated, in part:
"NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT THE ABOVE REFERRED FOREIGN JUDGMENT WAS FILED IN THE CIRCUIT CLERK'S OFFICE IN THE ABOVE NAMED COURT. THE JUDGMENT HAS THE SAME EFFECT AND IS SUBJECT TO THE SAME PROCEDURES, DEFENSES AND PROCEEDINGS FOR REOPENING, VACATING, OR STAYING AS A JUDGMENT OF A CIRCUIT COURT OF THIS STATE AND MAY BE ENFORCED OR SATISFIED IN LIKE MANNER. YOU ARE FURTHER NOTIFIED THAT NO EXECUTION OR OTHER PROCESS FOR ENFORCEMENT OF THIS FOREIGN JUDGMENT SHALL ISSUE UNTIL THIRTY (30) DAYS AFTER THE DATE THE JUDGMENT IS FILED."
(Capitalization in original.)
That document was sent to Evans at his Bryant address and to the other two defendants. See § 6-9-233(b) (requiring the circuit clerk to mail to the judgment debtor a notice of the filing of the foreign judgment that includes the information contained in the document sent to Evans). The circuit-court clerk also prepared certificates of judgment against all three defendants.
On July 16, 2013, Evans filed with the circuit court a document he described as a "motion to dismiss." Evans moved the circuit court to "dismiss this action" on the grounds that it failed to state a claim for relief, that the filing "violated his due process rights, " that the Tennessee court lacked jurisdiction over him, and that the Tennessee judgment was not valid and enforceable. Evans attached his own affidavit, swearing that he had never been a resident of Tennessee, that he had not been in Tennessee on the date the Tennessee judgment was entered,  that he had not transacted business in Tennessee, and that he had not submitted to the jurisdiction of the Tennessee courts. Evans also stated:
"A few years ago, David Brown, the purported brother of Cindy Anderson d/b/a Summitville Grain Co., came to my dairy in Bryant, Alabama and solicited my business on behalf of Summitville Grain Co. He arranged for me to obtain feed corn from Summit Grain ...