Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court dismissed Convent Corporation’s appeal from an order of the circuit court upholding the City of North Little Rock’s decision to condemn a business property, holding that pursuant to the holdings in Haile v. Ark. Power & Light Co., 907 S.W.2d 122 (Ark. 1995), and Ratzlaff v. Franz Foods of Ark., 500 S.W.2d 379 (Ark. 1995), this appeal must be dismissed. Specifically, the Court held that because Convent Corporation had multiple claims and voluntarily dismissed one without prejudice, Rule 2 of the Arkansas Rule of Appellate Procedure-Civil required that the appeal be dismissed in order to avoid piecemeal appeals. View "Convent Corp. v. City of North Little Rock" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the circuit court dismissing with prejudice Appellant’s civil rights case in which he challenged the conditions of his confinement in the Arkansas Department of Correction, holding that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to enter the order of dismissal with prejudice. Although Appellant’s complaint asserting a civil rights claim was electronically stamped with the date and time, no filing fee was paid. The circuit court dismissed the complaint with prejudice for failure to prosecute. On appeal, Appellant argued that the order of dismissal should be vacated for lack of jurisdiction because he never paid a filing fee, and therefore, the complaint was never filed and no action was commenced. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that because Appellant never paid a filing fee and that fee was not waived, Appellant’s case was never filed, and therefore, the circuit court never acquired jurisdiction. View "Ward v. Hutchinson" on Justia Law

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The circuit court denied Whitney’s motion for reconsideration of an order that set a partial filing fee of $20 with respect to Whitney’s pro se civil complaint in tort against Chancellor. Whitney sought leave to file a brief on appeal that does not conform to the rules of the Supreme Court of Arkansas, which dismissed the appeal. The motion to file a nonconforming brief is moot. The order setting the initial filing fee was entered on October 24, 2017. Whitney did not file his request for reconsideration until March 28, 2018. The circuit court denied the request because it was not timely filed pursuant to Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 60(a), which allows a party to file a motion asking the court to modify or vacate a judgment, order, or decree in a civil action to correct errors or mistakes or to prevent the miscarriage of justice within 90 days of the date the judgment, order, or decree was entered, unless the error was a clerical error that may be corrected at any time under Rule 60(b). Whitney did not ask for reconsideration of the October 24, 2017 order until 155 days after the order had been entered. View "Whitney v. Chancellor" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court held that because the petition that was the subject of the mandamus action in this case was acted on by Respondent, the mandamus action was moot. Petitioner filed a pro se petition or writ of mandamus arguing that a circuit judge had not acted in a timely manner on his petition to correct illegal sentence. The Attorney General filed an amended response noting that a written order denying the petition to correct an illegal sentence was filed. The Supreme Court then held that the petition was moot. View "Thornton v. Guynn" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court remanded this matter regarding Appellant’s pro se petition to proceed in forma pauperis in a civil action. After the circuit court originally denied Appellant’s petition to proceed in forma pauperis, the Supreme Court remanded the matter because the circuit court’s order failed to state whether there was a lack of a colorable cause of action in accordance with Ark. R. Civ. P. 72. On remand, the circuit court again denied the petition. On appeal, the Supreme Court held that it must remand the matter because it could not be determined whether the petition denied by the circuit court was contained in the record and because the record did not contain the original civil action. View "Kennedy v. Felts" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s order granting Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s refund action pursuant to Ark. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(8) based on the doctrine of res judicata, holding that res judicata did not bar Plaintiff’s suit. After receiving the Faulkner County Assessor’s valuation of its personal property, Plaintiff challenged the assessments. The Faulkner County Board of Equalization upheld the assessments, as did the Faulkner County Court. The circuit court dismissed Plaintiff’s valuation appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. During the discovery process in the valuation appeal, Plaintiff learned of errors regarding the issues in the first complaint. Plaintiff then filed a claim in the Faulkner County Court for a refund of its 2012 ad valorem taxes under Ark. Code Ann. 26-35-901 based on an erroneous assessment of its personal property and on the taxation of its exempt intangible property. The county court dismissed the refund action under Ark. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(8) because the earlier case involved the same parties and arose out of the same occurrence. Plaintiff appealed. The circuit court dismissed the refund action, finding that the refund claims were precluded by res judicata. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the valuation appeal was dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, there was no valid judgment in that case by a court with proper jurisdiction, and all of the required elements of claim preclusion were not satisfied. View "Desoto Gathering Co. v. Hill" on Justia Law

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In this interlocutory appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying the motion filed by Appellant, the Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas, to dismiss an action brought by Appellee for violations of the overtime of the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act (AMWA), Ark. Code Ann. 11-4-201 to -222. On appeal, Appellant argued that the doctrine of sovereign immunity applied, and therefore, the circuit court erred in denying the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the circuit court erred as a matter of law in denying Appellant’s motion to dismiss because it lacked jurisdiction over Appellee’s AMWA claim pursuant to the doctrine of sovereign immunity. View "Board of Trustees of University of Arkansas v. Andrews" on Justia Law

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In this interlocutory appeal, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded in part and dismissed in part the circuit court’s denial of the motion filed by Appellants - employees of Arkansas State University - to dismiss Appellee’s complaint asserting that Appellants denied her due process under the Arkansas Constitution and violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In their motion to dismiss, Appellants argued that the complaint was barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity because Appellee did not state a cognizable due process violation and that the FOIA claim failed as a matter of law because the records Appellant requested were shielded from disclosure under Ark. Code Ann. 25-19-105(b)(2). The Supreme Court held (1) Appellee’s complaint failed to state sufficient facts to support a due-process violation, and therefore, Appellee’s due-process claim was barred by sovereign immunity; and (2) because Appellant’s argument regarding Appellee’s FOIA claim did not implicate sovereign immunity, this issue was dismissed on appeal. View "Williams v. McCoy" on Justia Law

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A nonlawyer may not appeal a tax assessment to a county court on behalf of a corporation. Appellants appealed the county assessor’s tax assessment, and the letters were signed by Appellants’ representative, a nonattorney. The county court upheld the assessments. Appellants appealed, and the notice of appeal was filed by a licensed attorney. Appellees filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction because the notice of appeal constituted the unauthorized practice of law, rendering the petition to appeal a nullity and depriving the circuit court of jurisdiction. The circuit court granted the motion. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that, because a nonlawyer invoked the process of a court, the county court never acquired jurisdiction over Appellants’ appeal, thus depriving the circuit court of jurisdiction. View "USAC Leasing LLC v. Hill" on Justia Law

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In this case challenging a county board of equalization tax assessment, the Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court dismissing Appellants’ appeal, holding that the circuit court did not err in dismissing Appellants’ appeal when Appellants’ representative, a nonlawyer, initiated the appeal on behalf of Appellants. Specifically, the court held that the notices of appeal that Appellants’ tax manager filed on behalf of Appellants must be deemed a nullity because they were filed in violation of the prohibition of the unauthorized practice of law. Therefore, the petitions of appeal were a nullity, and the county and circuit courts lacked jurisdiction to hear the appeals. View "DeSoto Gathering Co. v. Hill" on Justia Law