from Etowah Circuit Court (CV-17-900044)
Mack appeals from a judgment entered by the Etowah Circuit
Court ("the circuit court") in favor of Alan Arber
on her claims arising from damage she allegedly sustained in
a motor-vehicle accident with Arber. We dismiss the appeal.
and Procedural History
January 20, 2017, Mack filed a complaint against Arber
seeking "compensatory and punitive damages as determined
reasonable by a jury" for "negligence, wantonness
and property damage she sustained in connection with a motor
vehicle accident on March 27, 2015." On January 27,
2017, Arber answered the complaint.
February 1, 2017, Arber filed a motion requesting that the
trial court enforce a settlement agreement ("the
settlement agreement") that Kevin Barnes, a former
attorney for Mack, had allegedly entered into on behalf of
Mack relating to the motor vehicle-accident referenced in
Mack's complaint; Arber also requested in that motion
that the trial court dismiss Mack's complaint against
him. Arber attached evidentiary submissions in support of his
motion. On April 10, 2017, Mack responded to that motion,
arguing that she had not authorized Barnes to enter into the
settlement agreement. Mack also attached evidentiary
submissions in support of her response. On April 13, 2017,
the trial court granted Arber's motion to enforce the
settlement agreement. On April 17, 2017, Arber requested
permission from the trial court to pay the funds required by
the settlement agreement into court; that motion was granted
the next day.
1, 2017, Barnes filed a motion to intervene to assert a claim
for attorney's fees and expenses for his having
negotiated the settlement agreement on Mack's behalf;
that motion was granted that same day. On May 3, 2017, Arber
filed a motion again requesting that the trial court dismiss
the claims asserted against him. On May 9, 2017, Mack filed a
notice of appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court; that appeal
was transferred to this court, and this court subsequently
dismissed the appeal as having been taken from a nonfinal
judgment. See Mack v. Arber (No. 2160682, September
13, 2017), ___ So.3d ___ (Ala. Civ. App. 2016) (table). On
June 6, 2017, the trial court denied Arber's motion to
dismiss as moot.
October 2, 2017, Mack filed an amendment to her complaint,
adding a claim for uninsured/underinsured-motorist benefits
against Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. On that same
date, Arber renewed his motion to dismiss.
November 22, 2017, Barnes filed a motion requesting that the
trial court allow him to pay certain "MedPay funds"
into court. That motion was later granted. On November 22,
2017, Nationwide answered and moved to dismiss the claim
asserted against it.
hearing, the trial court entered an order on December 1,
2017, granting the pending motion to dismiss the claims
against Arber; that order stated that the case remained
pending as to the claims involving the other parties. The
trial court also certified the order as final pursuant to
Rule 54(b), Ala. R. Civ. P. On January 11, 2018, Mack filed
her notice of appeal.
appeal, Mack argues that she had "expressly rejected the
settlement offer and, therefore, [Barnes] did not have
[Mack's] authority to enter into the alleged settlement
the parties have not raised the issue of the appropriateness
of the circuit court's Rule 54(b) certification of its
December 1, 2017, order, this court directed the parties to
file letter briefs addressing whether the claims against
Arber, which were resolved by the circuit court in its
December 1, 2017, order, and the claims that remain pending
in the trial court, i.e., the claims involving Barnes and
Nationwide, are "'"'so closely intertwined
that separate adjudication would pose an unreasonable risk of
inconsistent results, '"'" Loachapoka
Water Auth., Inc. v. Water Works Bd. of Auburn,
74 So.3d 419, 423 (Ala. 2011) (quoting Schlarb v.
Lee, 955 So.2d 418, 419-20 (Ala. 2006), quoting in turn
Clarke-Mobile Counties Gas Dist. v. Prior Energy
Corp., 834 So.2d 88, 95 (Ala. 2002), quoting in turn
Branch v. SouthTrust Bank of Dothan, N.A., 514 So.2d
1373, 1374 (Ala. 1987)). Mack filed a letter brief with this
court asserting that the Rule 54(b) certification should be
set aside. Arber did not file a letter brief with this court
on the Rule 54(b) issue.
"'If a trial court certifies a judgment as final
pursuant to Rule 54(b), an appeal will generally lie
from that judgment.' Baugus v. City of Florence,
968 So.2d 529, 531 (Ala. 2007) (emphasis added). However,
this Court will not consider an appeal from a judgment
certified as final under Rule 54(b) if it determines that the
trial court exceeded its discretion in concluding that there
is 'no just reason for delay.' Rule 54(b); see
also Scrushy v. Tucker, 955 So.2d 988, 996 (Ala. 2006)
('Whether there was "no just reason for delay"
is an inquiry committed to the ...