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SUPREME COURT OF ALABAMA
OCTOBER TERM, 2007-2008
Colie E. Crutcher, Jr., M.D.
Appeal from Sumter Circuit Court
On Return to Remand
COBB, Chief Justice.
instructions for the trial court to make its judgment final
pursuant to Rule 54(b), Ala. R. Civ. P., or to adjudicate a
cross-claim that remained pending against
Colie E. Crutcher,
Jr., M.D. Crutcher v. Williams, [Ms. 1050893, March 14, 2008]
__ So. 2d __ (Ala. 2008) ("Crutcher I").
In response, the
trial court entered an order; however, that order contravened
our opinion and instructions.
We again remand the case for
the trial court to enter another order in accordance with the
opinion and instructions in Crutcher I.
In pertinent part, those facts are as follows:
"On June 23, 2000, Iola Williams filed a
Crutcher, Jr., M.D., and the City of York Healthcare
Authority d/b/a Hill Hospital ('Hill Hospital').
Williams's action arose out of her visit to the Hill
Hospital emergency room in June 1998, during which
she was treated by Dr. Crutcher. Williams alleged
against Dr. Crutcher claims of medical negligence
and the tort of outrage and against Hill Hospital
claims of medical negligence, the tort of outrage,
negligence, and negligent hiring and supervision of
Dr. Crutcher and other Hill Hospital staff.
"On July 26, 2004, Hill Hospital filed the
following cross-claim, seeking indemnity from Dr.
Crutcher in the event it was found liable:
"'In the event Hill Hospital is found
liable predicated upon the acts and/or
indemnity for [Dr.] Crutcher's acts and/or
"On October 24, 2005, [following a jury trial,]
the trial court entered an order stating that
'judgment is rendered' in favor of Williams on her
claims against Dr. Crutcher and Hill Hospital in the
amount of $145,000. The trial court's order did not
against Dr. Crutcher.
Neither did it direct the
entry of a final judgment as to Williams's claims
against Dr. Crutcher and Hill Hospital in accordance
with the provision in Rule 54(b), Ala. R. Civ. P.,
for certifying as final a judgment disposing of
fewer than all claims in an action.
"The trial court denied the postjudgment motions
filed by Dr. Crutcher and Hill Hospital. On March 7,
2006, Dr. Crutcher filed a notice of appeal to this
___ So. 2d at ___.
This Court in Crutcher I found that the judgment from
which Dr. Crutcher appealed was not a final judgment because
it did not dispose of the cross-claim filed by the City of
Hospital") against Dr. Crutcher and because the cross-claim
had not been otherwise adjudicated.
Accordingly, we remanded
this case to the trial court with instructions to make its
October 24, 2005, judgment final pursuant to Rule 54(b), Ala.
against Dr. Crutcher.
In Crutcher I, we specifically addressed and rejected
Iola Williams's argument that, on remand, the trial court
could "amend" its October 24, 2005, order pursuant to Rule
60(a), Ala. R. Civ. P., to "correct" the judgment so as to
October 24, 2005, judgment final.
"As an alternative to her argument that the
trial court's judgment is final, Williams asks this
Court to remand the case for the trial court to
amend or correct the judgment under Rule 60(a), Ala.
R. Civ. P., to include a
dismissal of the
cross-claim. ... Williams cites no authority for her
proposition that Rule 60(a) is the appropriate
vehicle for resolving the jurisdictional defect in
"Moreover, Rule 60(a) 'deals solely with the
correction of clerical errors,' not with 'errors of
a more substantial nature.' Rule 60, Ala. R. Civ.
P., Committee Comments on 1973 Adoption. 'Clerical
errors' are errors '"to which the judicial sanction
and discretion cannot be said reasonably to have
been applied."' Lester v. Commisky, 459 So. 2d 868,
870 (Ala. 1984) (quoting Ex parte ALK Radio Supply
Co. of Georgia, 283 Ala. 630, 635, 219 So. 2d 880,
885 (1969)). In this case, determining how to
adjudicate the cross-claim in light of the law, the
discretion. The record contains no indication that
the trial court exercised that discretion. A Rule
60(a) motion 'cannot be used to make [the judgment]
say something other than what was originally
pronounced.' Ala. R. Civ. P. 60, Committee Comments
on 1973 Adoption. Therefore, in this case, Rule
60(a) does not permit a remand with instructions to
dismissing the cross-claim."
Crutcher I, __ So. 2d at __.
On March 26, 2008, the trial court entered the following
order, styled as an "Amended Judgment":
"Pursuant to the Jury Verdict of October 11, 2005,
judgment is rendered in favor of the Plaintiff Iola
Williams and against the Defendants Colie E.
Crutcher, Jr., M.D., and City of York Healthcare
Authority/Hill Hospital in the amount of One Hundred
accordance with Rule 60(a) Ala. R. Civ. P. to
correct the Court's oversight: Judgment is rendered,
nunc pro tunc, in favor of the Cross-Defendant Colie
E. Crutcher, Jr., M.D., on the City of York
Healthcare Authority/Hill Hospital's Cross-Claim
pursuant to the Jury Verdict of October 11, 2005, in
which Jury Questions #1 and #2 were incorporated.
This Court was of the opinion that the Jury's
Verdict and its answers to post-verdict Questions #1
and #2 disposed of Defendant Hill Hospital's crossclaim against Defendant Crutcher as a matter of law
and thus left nothing further to be adjudicated and
no other verdict on which to render judgment.
"Accordingly this Court previously entered Judgment
on the Jury Verdict on October 24, 2005, intending
the Judgment to be final as to all parties and so as
to dispose of all claims in this matter.
"This Amended Judgment reflects the Court's original
intention and corresponds with the Jury Verdict of
October 11, 2005, into which Jury Questions #1 and
#2 were merged. ..."
(Emphasis added; footnote omitted.)
decided by an appellate court become the "law of the case,"
court's mandate.'" Sonnier v. Talley, 806 So. 2d 381, 388-89
(Ala. 2001) (quoting Gray v. Reynolds, 553 So. 2d 79, 81 (Ala.
In Crutcher I, after directly and expressly considering
the parties' arguments on the issue, we explained that Rule
60(a), Ala. R. Civ. P., did not provide authority for the
trial court, on remand, to "amend" its October
judgment to adjudicate Hill Hospital's cross-claim against Dr.
Nevertheless, the trial court entered an order on
remand purporting to do exactly that.
We now remand the case
for the trial court to vacate its March 26, 2008 order and to
instructions in Crutcher I that it either (1) make the October
24, 2005, order a final judgment pursuant to Rule 54(b), Ala.
R. Civ. P.; or (2) adjudicate Hill Hospital's cross-claim.
Failure to respond within 28 days will result in the dismissal
of the appeal as being from a nonfinal judgment.
REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS.
See, Woodall, Smith, and Parker, JJ., concur.