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Ala. SC dismisses appeal in car wreck case

By Nathan Bass | Jan 9, 2013

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) - The Alabama Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal of a circuit court's order in an automobile accident case because the circuit court did not have jurisdiction on the matter that the order concerned.

Justice Lyn Stuart wrote the Jan. 3 opinion for the five judge panel.

The appeal stemmed from an automobile accident case that was filed June 26, 2007. Plaintiff Bob J. Harden sued Bennie C. Laney, alleging Laney's negligence resulted in an automobile accident in which Harden was injured.

Georgia Farm Bureau Insurance Company intervened in the suit to protect its rights as an uninsured/underinsured-motorist insurance carrier or as a subrogee. On Feb. 16, 2012, Georgia Farm Bureau was granted summary judgment. According to the opinion, Laney had been granted summary judgment on an earlier date.

Harden filed a notice of appeal in the trial court on March 29, 2012, and the motion was filed within the procedural deadline to file such a notice, according to the opinion.

"The trial court entered an order striking Harden's notice of appeal on the basis that Harden's attorney 'was in an "Inactive" status with the Alabama State Bar Association,'" the opinion states.

This opinion was issued on Harden's appeal of the trial court's order striking his notice of appeal.

"The timely filing of a notice of appeal invokes the jurisdiction of an appellate court and divests the trial court of jurisdiction to act except in matters entirely collateral to the appeal ... In this case, the trial court did not have jurisdiction to entertain GFB's motion to strike Harden's notice of appeal," Stuart wrote. "The timely filing of Harden's notice of appeal divested the trial court of jurisdiction to act in this case and invoked this Court's jurisdiction to act as to matters concerning Harden's appeal.

"Because jurisdiction over Harden's appeal rested in this Court when the trial court entered its order purporting to strike Harden's notice of appeal, the trial court's order is a nullity and will not support an appeal; therefore, Harden's appeal from that order is dismissed."

The opinion does not indicate whether the appellant, Harden, had filed his appeal with the appellate court within the time allowed after the filing of a notice of appeal to the trial court. It is unclear whether Harden will still be able to pursue an appeal if he is so inclined.

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