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Merrida v. Credit Acceptance Corp.

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

May 12, 2017

Lenita Merrida
v.
Credit Acceptance Corporation Samantha Nettles
v.
Credit Acceptance Corporation

         Appeal from Mobile Circuit Court (CV-11-963), (CV-16-59)

          MOORE, Judge.

         In appeal number 2160188, Lenita Merrida appeals from a judgment entered by the Mobile Circuit Court ("the circuit court") in case number CV-11-963 to the extent that it limited her constitutional wage exemption, see Ala. Const. 1901 (Off. Recomp.), Art. X, § 204, to the first $1, 000 in wages that she earns. In appeal number 2160189, Samantha Nettles appeals from a judgment entered by the circuit court in case number CV-16-59 to the extent that it also limited her constitutional wage exemption to the first $1, 000 in wages that she earns. We have consolidated the appeals for the purpose of issuing one opinion.

         Procedural History

         Appeal Number 2160188

         On June 18, 2013, a judgment was entered by the circuit court in favor of Credit Acceptance Corporation ("Credit Acceptance") and against Merrida in the amount of $10, 469.89, plus costs. Credit Acceptance subsequently filed an application for a writ of garnishment seeking to garnish Merrida's wages. On January 20, 2016, Merrida filed a verified declaration and claim of exemptions stating, in pertinent part:

"Pursuant to Ala. Const. Art. X, § 204, I claim as exempt from garnishment or any other legal process for the collection of debts, all of my wages from my employment with the garnishee. After my employer took out taxes, social security, and any other garnishment, my net biweekly wages per paycheck average $500. I use all of my income per paycheck as I get it to pay current expenses necessary to maintain myself and my family. I do not have any accumulation of wages from paycheck to paycheck."

         After a hearing, the circuit court entered a judgment on August 12, 2016, stating, in pertinent part:

"It is ORDERED that the garnishment directed to [Merrida's employer] is STAYED temporarily from this date until such time as [Merrida] has earned $1, 000.00 in gross wages. Upon ... Merrida's gross wages reaching the exemption maximum of $1, 000.00, the Garnishee ... shall reinstate the garnishment, withhold the requested sums, and forward same to the Clerk of Court until the judgment in this matter is satisfied.

         On September 10, 2016, Merrida filed a "motion to reconsider"; that motion was denied on October 31, 2016. Merrida filed her notice of appeal on December 9, 2016.

         Appeal Number 2160189

         On May 18, 2011, the Mobile District Court ("the district court") entered a judgment in favor of Credit Acceptance and against Nettles for $13, 529.53, plus court costs. Credit Acceptance subsequently filed an application for a writ of garnishment seeking to garnish Nettles's wages. Nettles filed a verified declaration and claim of exemptions stating, in pertinent part:

"After my employer took out taxes, social security, and any other garnishment, my net biweekly wages per paycheck averaged [$]424.00. I am currently on maternity leave until mid Feb 2016 and my earnings are 0. I use all of my income per paycheck as I get it to pay current expenses necessary to maintain myself and my ...

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