Kathryn L. Honea
Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., and Bernard Michaud
from Jefferson Circuit Court (CV-06-1896)
plaintiff below, Kathryn L. Honea, purports to appeal from a
judgment in favor of Raymond James Financial Services, Inc.
("Raymond James"), and Bernard Michaud, an employee
of Raymond James (hereinafter referred to collectively as
"RJFS"), in the underlying action seeking to vacate
an arbitration award. For the reasons stated below, we
dismiss the appeal.
and Procedural History
the fourth time this case has been before us. See Raymond
James Fin. Servs., Inc. v. Honea, 55 So.3d 1161 (Ala.
2010) ("Raymond James I"); Raymond
James Fin. Servs., Inc. v. Honea, 141 So.3d 1012 (Ala.
2013) ("Raymond James II"); and Honea
v. Raymond James Fin. Servs., Inc., 240 So.3d 550 (Ala.
2017) ("Raymond James III"). In 1997,
Honea opened several investment accounts with Raymond James.
In March 2006, Honea sued RJFS alleging that her accounts had
been mismanaged. She sought damages for breach of contract,
breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, wantonness, fraud, and
violations of the Alabama Securities Act. The case went to
arbitration. An arbitration panel entered an award in favor
of RJFS, and on January 14, 2008, Honea filed in the trial
court a motion to vacate that arbitration award. See
Horton Homes, Inc. v. Shaner, 999 So.2d 462, 467
(Ala. 2008) (discussing the process for appealing an
arbitration award under Ala. Code 1975, § 6-6-15, and
noting, among other things, that "[a] party seeking
review of an arbitration award is required to file a
motion to vacate" that award). Honea further requested
that, pursuant to a provision in the arbitration agreement,
the trial court conduct a "de novo review" of the
arbitration award. In response, the trial court vacated the
award and scheduled a future status conference for the
purpose of setting the matter for trial.
appealed from the order vacating the award. In Raymond
James I, this Court reversed the trial court's order
and remanded the case for the trial court to conduct,
pursuant to the provision in the arbitration agreement, a de
novo review of the transcript and exhibits of the arbitration
hearing and to enter a judgment based on that review.
Raymond James I, 55 So.3d at 1170.
remand, the trial court conducted a de novo review of the
arbitration award, again vacated the award, and entered a
judgment in favor of Honea. RJFS again appealed to this
Court. In Raymond James II, this Court held that the
trial court lacked jurisdiction because the arbitration award
had not been entered as a judgment of the court, and it
vacated the trial court's judgment as void,
noted that a void judgment would not support an appeal, and
dismissed the appeal. Raymond James II, 141 So.3d at
this Court's decision in Raymond James II, the
circuit clerk entered the arbitration award as a judgment of
the trial court. Honea filed a notice of appeal seeking
review of the award pursuant to Rule 71B, Ala. R. Civ.
In Raymond James III, this Court held that
Honea's motion to vacate the award had been denied by
operation of law under Rule 59.1, Ala. R. Civ. P. 240 So.3d
at 562. That denial was affirmed by this Court except in
respect to certain claims. Specifically, this Court held that
Honea was entitled, under Rule 59(g), Ala. R. Civ. P., to a
hearing in regard to potential breach-of-contract claims
concerning conduct that allegedly occurred after March 2000.
Without expressing any opinion on the substantive merit of
those particular claims, 240 So.3d at 568 n.9, this Court
reversed the trial court's judgment in part and remanded
the case for the trial court to conduct a Rule 59(g) hearing
on those identified claims. 240 So.3d at 568.
remand, Honea filed in the trial court on August 3, 2017,
another motion to vacate the arbitration award. This motion
will be referred to as "the 2017 motion to vacate."
She argued in the 2017 motion to vacate that in Raymond
James III this Court held that Honea's claims were
not barred by the statute of limitations. According to Honea,
because the trial court had previously conducted a de novo
review of the arbitration award on remand following
Raymond James I, vacated the award, and entered a
judgment in her favor, the trial court should reenter that
trial court subsequently held a hearing. It is clear from the
transcript of the hearing that the trial judge did not yet
intend for the hearing to be one pursuant to Rule 59(g) or
one to otherwise resolve the issues identified in this
Court's remand mandate.
November 11, 2017, Honea filed a notice of appeal, once again
bringing this case before this Court. It appears that this
appeal anticipated that the 2017 motion to vacate had been
denied by operation of law pursuant to Rule 59.1, Ala. R.
Civ. P., and that an appeal was required.
appeal, Honea contends that the 2017 motion to vacate was
simply a "repetitive filing" that raised no new
grounds and should not be considered a new motion that would
be susceptible to denial by operation of law under Rule 59.1.
Thus, she concedes, there is no final judgment to support her
appeal, and the appeal should be dismissed. See Jakeman
v. Lawrence Grp. Mgmt. Co., 82 So.3d 655, 659 (Ala.
2011) (holding that a nonfinal judgment "will not
support an appeal"). On the other hand, RJFS argues that
the 2017 motion to vacate raised new, nonmeritorious issues;
thus, it maintains that it was an entirely new motion to
vacate that was properly deemed denied by operation of law
under Rule 59.1. We agree that the 2017 motion to vacate
raises new grounds; however, because of that fact, as
discussed below, consideration of the motion is beyond the
scope of the trial court's jurisdiction and requires that
this appeal be dismissed.
appellate court's decision is final as to the matters
before it, becomes the law of the case, and must be executed
according to the mandate. Ex parte Edwards, 727
So.2d 792, 794 (Ala. 1998). Generally, a lower court
"exceeds its authority" by addressing issues
already decided by an appellate court's decision in that
case. Lynch v. State, 587 So.2d 306, 308 (Ala.
1991). In Anderson v. State, 796 So.2d 1151, 1156
(Ala.Crim.App.2000) (opinion on return to remand), the
Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals held that a trial
court's order on remand that exceeded the scope of the
appellate court's remand order "exceeded [the trial
court's] jurisdiction" and was "a
nullity." See also Ellis v. State, 705 So.2d
843, 847 (Ala.Crim.App.1996) (on application for rehearing on
second return to remand) ("[T]he trial court had no
jurisdiction ... to take any action beyond the express
mandate of this court."), and Peterson v.
State, 842 So.2d 734, 740 (Ala.Crim.App.2001) (opinion
on return to third remand) (holding that a trial court
"did not have jurisdiction" to enter an order that
exceeded the scope of the appellate court's ...