Appeals from Jefferson Circuit Court (CV-17-902114)
supreme court has consistently stated that certifications of
judgments as final under Rule 54(b), Ala. R. Civ. P., are
disfavored and should rarely be entered by trial courts. See
Schlarb v. Lee, 955 So.2d 418, 419 (Ala.
2006)("This Court looks with some disfavor upon
certifications under Rule 54(b)."); and Baker v.
Bennett, 644 So.2d 901, 903 (Ala. 1994)(citing
Branch v. SouthTrust Bank of Dothan, N.A., 514 So.2d
1373 (Ala. 1987))("Certifications under Rule 54(b)
should be entered only in exceptional cases and should not be
entered routinely."). Furthermore, our supreme court has
explained that a Rule 54(b) certification is not proper when
certified claims present issues that are
"intertwined" with claims that remain pending in
the trial court or when "[r]epeated appellate review of
the same underlying facts" is probable. Smith v.
Slack Alost Dev. Servs. of Alabama, LLC, 32 So.3d 556,
562 (Ala. 2009).
Williams appeals from an order of the Jefferson Circuit Court
("the trial court") that, among other things,
entered a partial summary judgment as to Williams's claim
of wantonness against Heather Rene Fann. Fann cross-appeals
that same order insofar as it denied her motion seeking to
strike certain evidence submitted by Williams and granted
Williams's motion seeking to strike certain evidence
submitted by Fann and Progressive Direct Insurance Company
("Progressive"). The trial court's order was
certified as final under Rule 54(b). Because the order was
interlocutory and not subject to certification as final under
Rule 54(b), we dismiss these appeals as having been taken
from a nonfinal judgment. See Moore v. Strickland,
54 So.3d 906, 908 (Ala. Civ. App. 2010)(quoting Sexton v.
Sexton, 42 So.3d 1280, 1282 (Ala. Civ. App.
2010))("'Generally, an appeal will lie only from a
final judgment, and if there is not a final judgment then
this court is without jurisdiction to hear the
2017, Williams filed a complaint in the trial court asserting
claims of negligence and wantonness against Fann stemming
from an automobile and bicycle collision. Additionally,
Williams asserted a claim of negligence per se against Fann
and a claim seeking underinsured-motorist benefits against
March 27, 2018, Fann and Progressive filed a joint motion for
a partial summary judgment with supporting documentation
regarding Williams's claim of wantonness. On April 30,
2018, Williams filed a response in opposition to the motion
for a partial summary judgment with supporting documentation.
On May 3, 2018, Williams, on one side, and Fann and
Progressive, on the other side, filed motions seeking to
strike certain evidence the other side had submitted in
support of, or in opposition to, the partial-summary-judgment
7, 2018, the trial court entered the following order:
"[Williams's] Motion to Strike Investigating Officer
Evidence in Support of [Fann and Progressive's] Motion
for Partial Summary Judgment is GRANTED.
"[Fann and Progressive's] Motion to Strike Evidence
Submitted by [Williams] in Opposition to [their] Motion for
Partial Summary Judgment is Denied.
"The Joint Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by
the Defendants, Heather Fann and Progressive [Direct]
Insurance Company, is GRANTED. [Williams's] wantonness
claim is dismissed as a matter of law as there are no genuine
issues of material fact in dispute.
"Pursuant to Rule 54(b), [Ala. R. Civ. P., ] this Order
is hereby made final as there is no just reason for
filed a notice of appeal to the supreme court on May 31,
2018. Fann filed a cross-appeal on June 18, 2018. On August
2, 2018, the supreme court transferred the appeals to this
court pursuant to § 12-2-7(6), Ala. Code 1975. The
appeals were submitted to this court on October 26, 2018.
7, 2018, order did not dispose of all pending claims and,
therefore, would support the appeals only if it was
appropriately certified as final under Rule 54(b). See
Carlisle v. Carlisle, 768 So.2d 976, 977 (Ala. Civ.
App. 2000)(citing Rule 54(b), Ala. R. Civ. P.; and Ex
parte Harris, 506 So.2d 1003, 1004 (Ala. Civ. App.
1987))("An order is generally not final unless it
disposes of all claims or the rights and liabilities of all
parties."). After reviewing the record, this court
questioned the appropriateness of the Rule 54(b)
certification. Whether a judgment was properly certified as
final pursuant to Rule 54(b) and whether that judgment is
sufficiently final to support an appeal are jurisdictional
questions that this court may notice ex mero motu.
Firestone v. Weaver, 245 So.3d 590, 595-96 (Ala.
2017). This court asked the parties to submit letter briefs
addressing whether the May 7, 2018, order was appropriately
certified as final under Rule 54(b).
54(b) permits a trial court to "direct the entry of a
final judgment as to one or more but fewer than all of the
claims or parties only upon an express determination that
there is no just reason for delay and upon an express
direction for the entry of judgment." As our supreme
court has explained, however, Rule 54(b) certification is
disfavored and should be rarely entered. "'Rule
54(b) certifications should be granted only in exceptional
cases and "should not be entered routinely or as a
courtesy or accommodation to counsel."'"
Branch v. SouthTrust Bank of Dothan, N.A., 514 So.2d
at 1374 (quoting Foster v. Greer & Sons, Inc.,
446 So.2d 605, 610 (Ala. 1984), quoting in turn Page v.
Preisser, 585 F.2d 336, 339 (8th Cir. 1978)).
"'"'Appellate review in a piecemeal
fashion is not favored.'"'"
Dzwonkowski v. Sonitrol of Mobile, Inc., 892 So.2d
354, 363 (Ala. 2004)(quoting Goldome Credit Corp. v.
Player, 869 So.2d 1146, 1148 (Ala. Civ. App. 2003),
quoting in turn Harper Sales Co. v. Brown, Stagner,
Richardson, Inc., 742 So.2d 190, 192 (Ala. Civ. App.
1999), quoting in turn Brown v. Whitaker Contracting
Corp., 681 So.2d 226, 229 (Ala. Civ. App.
1996)(overruled on other grounds by Schneider Nat'l
Carriers, Inc. v. Tinney, 776 So.2d 753 (Ala. 2000))).
See also Goldome Credit Corp. v. Player, 869 So.2d
1146, 1148 (Ala. Civ. App. 2003)(quoting Brown v.Whitaker Contracting Corp., ...