from Madison Circuit Court (CV-16-98)
THOMPSON, PRESIDING JUDGE.
Alabama Real Estate Group, LLC ("NAREG"), appeals
from a judgment of the Madison Circuit Court ("the
circuit court") dismissing the writ of garnishment it
had received against Alejandro Pineda.
record indicates the following. NAREG filed an
unlawful-detainer action against Pineda in the Madison
District Court ("the district court") on August 1,
2015, in which NAREG sought possession of residential rental
property and damages. Before the trial, Pineda agreed to
vacate the property. On January 13, 2016, after a trial on
the issue of damages, the district court entered a judgment
against Pineda and awarded NAREG $9, 162.50, plus court
costs. The judgment had not been paid five months later, so
on June 22, 2016, NAREG filed its application for a writ of
garnishment in the district court. The district court granted
the application and issued the writ on June 23, 2016. Pineda
responded by filing a motion to stay the garnishment and a
verified declaration and claim of exemption. In his claim of
exemption, Pineda asserted that his wages were approximately
$300 each week and were exempt from garnishment pursuant to
Article 10, § 204, of the Alabama Constitution of 1901
("§ 204"). NAREG challenged Pineda's claim
of exemption, contending that Pineda was entitled to a
one-time-only exemption of $1, 000 and that the
constitutional exemption of $1, 000 in personal property did
not include wages. Pineda then moved to dismiss the
garnishment. In response, NAREG moved to deny the motion to
September 2, 2016, the district court entered a judgment
determining that Pineda was entitled to a single $1, 000
exemption, after which 25% of his net income was to be
withheld from future wages. Pineda timely appealed the
district court's determination to the circuit court.
October 25, 2016, in response to a joint motion of the
parties, the circuit court stayed the writ of garnishment the
district court had issued on June 23, 2016. On April 6, 2017,
Pineda filed a motion in the circuit court again seeking the
dismissal of the garnishment. He also submitted a trial brief
to the circuit court, in which he argued that §
6-10-6.1, Ala. Code 1975, was unconstitutional. On April 7,
2017, NAREG moved to deny Pineda's motion to dismiss.
hearing was held on April 10, 2017, during which the parties
presented their arguments to the circuit court. A transcript
of the hearing is not included in the record on appeal, but
the parties agree that no evidence was submitted during that
hearing. On April 17, 2017, the circuit court entered a
judgment determining that Pineda was "entitled to a one
time exemption of $1, 000" and that, thereafter, he was
"entitled to claim future wages as exempt up to 75% of
each paycheck." The circuit court ordered Pineda's
employer to withhold 25% of Pineda's net income from
future income, pursuant to the writ of garnishment.
15, 2017, Pineda filed a "motion to reconsider" in
the circuit court, pursuant to Rule 59(e), Ala. R. Civ.
his postjudgment motion, Pineda advised the circuit court of
this court's opinion in Merrida v. Credit Acceptance
Corp., [Ms. 2160188, May 12, 2017] ___ So.3d ___, ___
(Ala. Civ. App. 2017), which had been issued less than 30
days after the circuit court's judgment of April 17,
2017. Pineda relied on Merrida for its holding that,
because the employees in the two cases addressed in that
opinion averred that they did "not accumulate more than
$1, 000 in wages, they [were] entitled to claim the entirety
of their wages each pay period 'over and over again,
' ... until such time as they accumulated more than $1,
000." Id. at ___ (quoting Walker v.
Williams & Bouler Constr. Co., 46 Ala.App. 337, 341,
241 So.2d 896, 900 (Ala. Civ. App. 1970)).
responded to Pineda's "motion to reconsider, "
arguing that, pursuant to § 6-10-6.1, which became
effective before NAREG's unlawful-detainer action against
Pineda was filed on August 1, 2015, Pineda was barred from
claiming wages as personal property subject to constitutional
17, 2017, the circuit court entered a judgment dismissing the
writ of garnishment. The circuit court did not elaborate on
its decision. On June 13, 2017, NAREG filed a "motion to
reconsider" the dismissal of the garnishment. That
motion was denied by operation of law on September 11, 2017.
NAREG appealed to this court on September 15, 2017.
contends that the circuit court erred by not applying §
6-10-6.1 to preclude Pineda from claiming his wages as
personal property "'over and over again.'"
Merrida, So.3d at ___. That statute provides:
"(a) Wages, salaries, or other compensation of a
resident are not personal property for the purposes of
exemption from garnishment, levy, sale under execution, or
other process for the collection of debt.
"(b) It is the intent of this section to exclude from
the meaning of personal property the wages, salaries, or
other compensation of a resident for the purposes of the
personal property exemption under Section 6-10-6 and Section
204 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901."
Alabama Telco Credit Union v. Gibbons, 195 So.3d
1012, 1016 (Ala. Civ. App. ...