Convent Corp. v. City of North Little Rock

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Justia Opinion Summary

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.

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Cite as 2018 Ark. 55 SUPREME COURT OF ARKANSAS No. CV-17-707 CONVENT CORPORATION Opinion Delivered February 22, 2018 V. APPEAL FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 60CV-13-1398] CITY OF NORTH LITTLE ROCK et al. HONORABLE ALICE S. GRAY, JUDGE APPELLANT APPELLEES APPEAL DISMISSED. JOSEPHINE LINKER HART, Justice Convent Corporation has attempted to appeal from an order of the Pulaski County Circuit Court upholding the City of North Little Rock’s decision to condemn a business property. The order, however, by its express terms recited that the circuit court was reserving for a later time its decision on the City’s stated intention to request civil penalties in the amount of $50 per day against the Plaintiff pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 14-55-606, and as provided in the Resolution that was passed by the City Council finding the property to be a nuisance. The circuit court also expressly reserved its decision on Convent Corporations’s declaratoryjudgment action: 6. The only remaining issue before the Court is Plaintiff’s Petition for Declaratory Judgment, which Plaintiff may set for hearing and present at a later time, if Plaintiff so chooses. In an effort to expedite its appeal, Covenant Corporation voluntarily dismissed its declaratory-judgment action without prejudice pursuant to Rule 41(a) of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure. It did not move for Arkansas Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) certification. Accordingly, we must dismiss this appeal. With some limited exceptions not applicable to the case before us, Rule 2 of the Arkansas Rules of Appellate Procedure–Civil requires that a judgment or decree be final before it can be appealed. See Advanced Envtl. Recycling Tech., Inc. v. Advanced Control Sol., Inc., 372 Ark. 286, 275 S.W.3d 162 (2008). The purpose of Rule 2 is to avoid piecemeal litigation. Id. A party with multiple claims cannot voluntarily dismiss without prejudice a claim that has not been ruled on by the circuit court in order to create a final, appealable order. Ratzlaff v. Franz Foods of Ark., 255 Ark. 373, 500 S.W.2d 379 (1973). In reaching the same conclusion in Haile v. Ark. Power & Light Co., 322 Ark. 29, 907 S.W.2d 122 (1995), this court noted that a voluntary dismissal under Arkansas Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a) leaves a plaintiff free to refile a claim, assuming there has been no previous dismissal, which creates the possibility of piecemeal appeals. Pursuant to our holdings in Haile and Ratzlaff this appeal must be dismissed. Appeal dismissed. Mickey Stevens, for appellant. Marie-Bernarde Miller, Deputy City Attorney, for appellees. 2