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Inc. v. City of Pelham

Supreme Court of Alabama

October 18, 2019

COURTYARD MANOR HOMEOWNERS' ASSOCIATION, INC.
v.
CITY OF PELHAM.

Page 1062

         Appeal from Shelby Circuit Court (CV-18-900823).

         William Eugene Rutledge of The Rutledge Law Firm, LLC, Hoover, for appellant.

          Frank C. Ellis, Jr., J. Bentley Owens III, and William R. Justice of Ellis, Head, Owens, Justice & Arnold, Columbiana, for appellee.

         SELLERS, Justice.

         Courtyard Manor Homeowners' Association, Inc. ("Courtyard Manor"),[1] appeals from the Shelby Circuit Court's dismissal of its complaint filed against the City of Pelham ("the City"). We affirm.

         In August 2018, Courtyard Manor filed a complaint against the City after the City failed to conduct a hearing or otherwise to respond to Courtyard Manor's petition, filed with the City in September 2017, seeking to be deannexed from the City's

Page 1063

municipal limits. Courtyard Manor averred in its complaint that the City had agreed to apply its deannexation criteria to the matter, that the City had a duty to set the matter for a hearing, and that the City had de facto denied the petition by failing to take any action on it.[2] Courtyard Manor requested that the circuit court conduct a hearing on the petition and enter an order deannexing Courtyard Manor from the City. Alternatively, Courtyard Manor requested that the circuit court order the Pelham City Council to hold a hearing on the petition and to report its decision to the circuit court.

         The City moved the circuit court to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Ala. R. Civ. P.,[3] for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The City argued that, in deciding whether to deannex property, a municipal governing body acts in a legislative capacity, that a municipal governing body has discretion to determine if and when to deannex property, that the governing body's discretion in determining if and when to deannex property is not subject to interference by the courts, that the City's governing body has not determined that the corporate limits of the City should be reduced in the manner requested by Courtyard Manor, and that the City had no duty to hold a hearing on Courtyard Manor's petition. The circuit court granted the City's motion to dismiss. This appeal followed.

         I. Standard of Review

         "On appeal, a dismissal is not entitled to a presumption of correctness. Jones v. Lee County Commission, 394 So.2d 928, 930 (Ala. 1981); Allen v. Johnny Baker Hauling, Inc., 545 So.2d 771, 772 (Ala.Civ.App. 1989). The appropriate standard of review under Rule 12(b)(6) is whether, when the allegations of the complaint are viewed most strongly in the pleader's favor, it appears that the pleader could prove any set of circumstances that would entitle her to relief. Raley v. Citibanc of Alabama/Andalusia, 474 So.2d 640, 641 (Ala. 1985); Hill v. Falletta, 589 So.2d 746 (Ala.Civ.App. 1991). In making this determination, this Court does not consider whether the plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but only whether she may possibly prevail. Fontenot v. Bramlett, 470 So.2d 669, 671 (Ala. 1985); Rice v. United Ins. Co. of America, 465 So.2d 1100, 1101 (Ala. 1984). We note that a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal is proper only when it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of the claim that would entitle the plaintiff to relief. Garrett v. Hadden, 495 So.2d 616, 617 (Ala. 1986); Hill v. Kraft, Inc., 496 So.2d 768, 769 (Ala. 1986)."

         Nance v. Matthews, 622 So.2d 297, 299 (Ala. 1993). This Court reviews de novo questions of law concerning statutory construction. Continental Nat'l Indem. Co. v. Fields, 926 So.2d 1033 (Ala. 2005).

         

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