Morris House Condominium Association, Inc.
from Jefferson Circuit Court (CV-16-901018)
House Condominium Association, Inc. ("the
Association"), appeals from an order of the Jefferson
Circuit Court ("the trial court") finding it in
contempt of an earlier order and granting an attorney's
lien to Alex Hirschfield. We dismiss the appeal.
March 2016, the Association filed a complaint in the trial
court against Mark Hannon, JoAnne Hannon, 2325 Morris Avenue,
LLC, and Hannon Group, Inc. (hereinafter collectively
referred to as "the Hannon defendants"), alleging,
among other things, that they owed unpaid dues associated
with a condominium located within the Association's
governance; the Association also sought injunctive relief.
The Association was represented by Hirschfield. The
litigation between the Association and the Hannon defendants
proceeded with responsive pleadings, discovery, and a
dispositive motion filed by Mark, JoAnne, and Hannon Group,
Inc. 2325 Morris Avenue, LLC, also asserted a counterclaim
against the Association. In September 2017, the trial court
entered a summary judgment in favor of Mark and JoAnne
regarding all of the Association's claims against them.
January 3, 2018, Hirschfield filed a motion asking for the
trial court's permission to withdraw as counsel for the
Association, citing breakdowns in communication and the
attorney-client relationship. Hirschfield also filed a
"notice of attorney's lien and motion for attorney
fees," citing as support § 34-3-61, Ala. Code 1975.
On January 11, 2018, the trial court entered an order
indicating that it had conducted an evidentiary hearing at
which all parties were present; granting Hirschfield's
motion to withdraw; ordering that, in accordance with an
October 2017 agreement between Hirschfield and the
Association, the Association was required to pay Hirschfield
$3, 000 "for compensation that was due on or before
December 1, 2017, and January 1, 2018"; and withholding
adjudication regarding Hirschfield's request for an
attorney's lien until the Association could obtain
counsel to assist it with Hirschfield's assertions. The
trial court ordered the Association to pay Hirschfield $3,
000 within seven days.
January 29, 2018, Hirschfield filed a motion asking the trial
court to hold the Association in contempt for failing to pay
him $3, 000. On February 7, 2018, the trial court entered an
order scheduling a hearing regarding Hirschfield's
motion. On February 22, 2018, the trial court entered an
order that provided, in relevant part:
"The above entitled matter came on before the Court on
February 20, 2018, on ... Hirschfield's motion for
contempt, for sanctions, and to make attorney's lien
final. After due consideration, the Court finds the motion
well taken and the same is hereby GRANTED.
"It is ORDERED and ADJUDGED:
"1. [The Association] is in contempt for failing to
comply with this Court's order of January 11, 2018,
requiring the payment of reasonable attorney's fees in
the amount of $3, 000.00 to ... Hirschfield.
"2. ... Hirschfield's Motion for Attorney Lien is
next day, the trial court amended its order to specify that
the amount of the attorney's lien awarded to Hirschfield
was $7, 400.
Association retained new attorneys, who filed notices of
appearance. On March 9, 2018, the Association filed a motion
asking the trial court to set aside its finding of contempt
against the Association and its award of an attorney's
lien to Hirschfield. In its motion, the Association asserted
that it had not received adequate notice of Hirschfield's
motion seeking attorney fees, his motion seeking a finding of
contempt against the Association, or the trial court's
hearing regarding Hirschfield's contempt motion.
Association further asserted that it had already paid
Hirschfield $3, 000, as ordered by the trial court. The
Association's motion was accompanied by an affidavit of
its president and an affidavit of the president of RMS
Management, which was the entity providing third-party
management services for the Association. The Association also
provided a copy of a check made to the order of Hirschfield
in the amount of $3, 000 and dated February 28, 2018. The
Association also argued that "the grant of an
attorney's lien is premature at this stage in the
proceedings" and that "an attorney lien is only
enforceable following entry of [a] final judgment." The
trial court scheduled a hearing regarding the
Association's motion. Before the ...