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Jasper Water Works and Sewer Board, Inc. v. Dunn

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

February 23, 2018

Jasper Water Works and Sewer Board, Inc.
v.
Jerry G. Dunn

         Appeal from Walker Circuit Court (CV-14-900415)

          THOMAS, JUDGE.

         Jasper Water Works and Sewer Board, Inc. ("the employer"), appeals from a judgment entered in favor of Jerry G. Dunn ("the employee") by the Walker Circuit Court pursuant to the Alabama Workers' Compensation Act ("the Act"), § 25-5-1 et seq., Ala. Code 1975.

         Although neither party has raised the issue of this court's jurisdiction over this appeal, jurisdictional matters are of such magnitude that this court is permitted to notice a lack of jurisdiction ex mero motu. See Reeves v. State, 882 So.2d 872, 874 (Ala. Civ. App. 2003).

         The judgment reads, in pertinent part:

"9. The Court finds that the [employee] has incurred certain medical expenses related to his on-the-job injury and said expenses are reasonable and necessary and are directly a result of his on-the-job injury while working for [the employer], and shall be paid by the [employer]."

(Emphasis added.)

         The circuit court did not specify the amount of damages for the employee's past medical expenses; therefore, we dismiss the employer's appeal as having been taken from a nonfinal judgment. See Ex parte Baptist Health Sys., Inc., 966 So.2d 920, 923 (Ala. 2007) ("Because the trial court in this case has not specified the amount of damages to be awarded to [the employee] for past medical expenses, the trial court has not rendered a final judgment that will support an appeal.").

         As our supreme court has explained:

"'"An appeal will ordinarily lie only from a final judgment; that is, a judgment that conclusively determines the issues before the court and ascertains and declares the rights of the parties." Palughi v. Dow, 659 So.2d 112, 113 (Ala. 1995). For a judgment to be final, it must put an end to the proceedings and leave nothing for further adjudication. Ex parte Wharfhouse Rest. & Oyster Bar, Inc., 796 So.2d 316, 320 (Ala. 2001). "[W]ithout a final judgment, this Court is without jurisdiction to hear an appeal." Cates v. Bush, 293 Ala. 535, 537, 307 So.2d 6, 8 (1975).'
"Hamilton v. Connally, 959 So.2d 640, 642 (Ala. 2006).
"This Court has noted:
"'[I]t must be remembered that "[d]amages are [an element] of a claim to vindicate a legal right." Grantham v. Vanderzyl, 802 So.2d 1077, 1080 (Ala. 2001).
"'"Where the amount of damages is an issue, ... the recognized rule of law in Alabama is that no appeal will lie from a judgment which does not adjudicate that issue by ascertainment of the amount of those damages." Moody v. State ex rel. Payne, 351 So.2d 547, 551 (Ala. 1977). "That a judgment is not final when the amount of damages has not been fixed by it is unquestionable." "Automatic" Sprinkler Corp. ...

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