Justia Landlord - Tenant Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Alabama
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Trinity Property Consultants, LLC ("Trinity Property"), petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari to review the judgment of the Court of Civil Appeals holding that Trinity Property failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that Brittony Mays had been properly served in an eviction and unlawful-detainer action filed by Trinity Property pursuant to the Alabama Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, section 35- 9A-101 et seq., Ala. Code 1975. In 2018, the District Court entered a default judgment against Mays in the eviction and unlawful-detainer action filed by Trinity Property. Mays moved the district court, pursuant to Rule 60(b)(4), Ala. R. Civ. P., to set aside the default judgment on the basis that she had not been served with the complaint in the action; that motion was denied. Mays appealed the denial of the Rule 60(b)(4) motion to the Shelby Circuit Court; that court dismissed her appeal as untimely filed. Mays moved the circuit court, pursuant to Rule 59(e), Ala. R. Civ. P., to reinstate the appeal and to stay the execution of the default judgment. Trinity Property responded with an affidavit from the process server, who averred in relevant part he posted and mailed the summons and complaint when he did not receive a response from knocking on Mays’ front door. Mays's position was that merely knocking on the door, without more, was not a "reasonable effort" at personal service. The Alabama Supreme Court determined the process server’s effort at obtaining personal service was reasonable, the alternative method of service satisfied the requirements of due process. The Court reversed judgment of the Court of Civil Appeals and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Ex parte Trinity Property Consultants, LLC." on Justia Law

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Wilcox Investment Group, LLC, Foley Investment Partners, LLC, and Wilcox Communities, LLC ("Wilcox Communities") (collectively referred to as "Wilcox"), appealed a circuit court judgment awarding P&D, LLC, $122,291 on P&D's claims alleging the breach of two leases involving two condominium units formerly owned by P&D. P&D appealed the trial court's judgment on the grounds that the damages the trial court awarded were insufficient and that the trial court erred in failing to award it attorney fees. The Supreme Court consolidated the appeals for the purpose of writing one opinion. After review, the Supreme Court concluded that Wilcox was not bound by the leases, and it therefore could not be held liable for a refusal to pay rent under the leases. The trial court erred in concluding otherwise. This result pretermitted any need to discuss Wilcox's argument that the trial court awarded P&D a remedy to which it was not entitled under the leases. The Court's decision also mooted the issues presented by P&D's cross-appeal as to whether the trial court erred in failing to award P&D: (1) past-due rent; (2) the actual value of the two units lost as a consequence of the alleged breach of the leases; and (3) attorney fees. In sum, the trial court's judgment against Wilcox was reversed and P&D's cross-appeal was dismissed. View "Wilcox Investment Group, LLC et al. v. P&D, LLC" on Justia Law

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This case first went before the Alabama Supreme Court in "Ex parte Riverfront, LLC," (129 So. 3d 1008 (Ala. 2013)("Riverfront I")). In Riverfront I, Riverfront and Fish Market Restaurants, Inc. had entered into a lease for real property located in Gadsden. The lease contained a forum-selection clause naming Tuscaloosa County as the venue in which any litigation concerning the lease was to be brought. In determining that the forum-selection clause was enforceable, the Supreme Court held that Tuscaloosa County was not a "seriously inconvenient" forum. The Etowah Circuit Court transferred the action to the Tuscaloosa Circuit Court. Shortly thereafter, Fish Market filed a motion to transfer the action, then pending in the Tuscaloosa Circuit Court, back to the Etowah Circuit Court, citing section 6-3-21.1, Ala. Code 1975, that Tuscaloosa County "would be a seriously inconvenient forum." Riverfront responded, arguing that "[t]he issue stated in [Fish Market's] Motion to Transfer has previously been litigated between the parties, and adjudicated in [Riverfront's] favor by the Alabama Supreme Court." The Tuscaloosa Circuit Court held a hearing on Fish Market's motion and granted it. Riverfront then petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to direct the Tuscaloosa Circuit Court to vacate its order transferring the case back to the Etowah Circuit Court. The Supreme Court found, after review, that Fish Market could have challenged Tuscaloosa County as a "seriously inconvenient" forum in the Etowah Circuit Court and before the Supreme Court in Riverfront I. "Fish Market did not do so and may not now have a second bite at the forum apple and relitigate that issue. The matter has been decided." The Supreme Court granted Riverfront's petition and issued the writ. View "Ex parte Riverfront, LLC." on Justia Law