United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
WILLIAM M. ACKER, Jr., District Judge.
On March 20, 2014 this court entered an order in the above entitled case staying the consideration of cross-motions for summary judgment filed by plaintiffs, Jake Mendel, etc., et al. ("Mendel Parties") and by defendant, Morgan Keegan Company, Inc. ("Morgan Keegan"). After becoming aware of an appeal pending in the Supreme Court of Alabama in a case entitled Municipal Workers Compensation Fund, Inc. v. Morgan Keegan, No. 1120532, this court concluded that the wisest course was to await the outcome in Municipal Workers before deciding this case. This court, of course, could not predict what the Supreme Court of Alabama would decide on the issues before it in Municipal Workers, but this court could and did predict that whatever the Supreme Court ultimately held might very well prove dispositive in the case before this court. On April 3, 2015 the Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision in Municipal Workers, having the effect of lifting the stay in this court and placing the cross-motions under submission.
The instant case arrived in this court on August 30, 2013 when Morgan Keegan removed it from the Circuit Court of Jefferson County Alabama, where it had been filed on August 2, 2013 by Mendel Parties as an "appeal" under the provisions of Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure 71B and 71C of an arbitration award in which Morgan Keegan had been ordered to pay Mendel Parties the sum of $279, 500.31, which Mendel Parties contended was the product of "evident partiality" by an arbitrator and was woefully inadequate to compensate them for the losses they had sustained as a result of Morgan Keegan's misconduct while acting as their investment advisor. Alabama Rules 71B and 71C are interesting and strange. They are also unique and peculiar to Alabama. There is nothing remotely like them among the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The pertinent provisions are:
Rule 71B. Appeals from arbitration awards.
(a) Who may appeal. Any party to an arbitration may file a notice of appeal from the award entered as a result of the arbitration.
(b) When filed. The notice of appeal shall be filed within thirty (30) days after service of notice of the arbitration award. Failure to file within thirty (30) days shall constitute a waiver of the right to review.
(c) Where filed. The notice of appeal shall be filed with the clerk of the circuit court where the action underlying the arbitration is pending or if no action is pending in the circuit court, then in the office of the clerk of the circuit court of the county where the award is made.
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(f) Procedure after filing. The clerk of the circuit court promptly shall enter the award as the final judgment of the court. Thereafter, as a condition precedent to further review by any appellate court, any party opposed to the award may file, in accordance with Rule 59, a motion to set aside or vacate the judgment based upon one or more of the grounds specified in Ala. Code 1975, § 6-6-14, or other applicable law. The court shall not grant any such motion until a reasonable time after all parties are served pursuant to paragraph (e) of this rule. The disposition of any such motion is subject to civil and appellate rules applicable to orders and judgments in civil actions.
(g) Appellate review. An appeal may be taken from the grant or denial of any Rule 59 motion challenging the award by filing a notice of appeal to the appropriate appellate court pursuant to Rule 4, Alabama Rules of Appellate Procedure.
Rule 71C. Enforcement of arbitration awards.
(a) Who may enforce. Any party to an arbitration may seek enforcement of the award entered as a result of the arbitration.
(b) When filed. If no appeal has been filed pursuant to Rule 71B within thirty (30) days of service of the notice of the award, thereby resulting in a waiver of the right to review, the party seeking enforcement of the award may at any time thereafter seek enforcement of the award in the appropriate circuit court as set forth in paragraph (c) of this rule.
(c) Where filed. The motion for entry of judgment shall be filed with the clerk of the circuit court where the action underlying the arbitration is pending or if no action is pending in the circuit court, then in the office of the clerk of the circuit court of the county where the award is made.
(d) What filed. A party seeking enforcement of an award shall file a motion for entry of judgment, and shall attach to the motion a copy of the award, signed by the arbitrator, if there is only one, or by a majority of the arbitrators. ...