Hammond v. Keeton
MEMORANDUM OPINION and ORDER DISMISSING CASE that the defendant's motion to dismiss is GRANTED and this action is DISMISSED with prejudice; cost are taxed to plaintiff as more fully set out in order. Signed by Judge C Lynwood Smith, Jr on 4/17/2014. (AHI)
2014 Apr-17 PM 01:40
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
CHAD E. HAMMOND,
Civil Action No. 3:14-CV-059-CLS
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff, Chad Hammond, who is proceeding pro se, asserts a claim against
defendant, Janice Keeton, for violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
(“FDCPA” or “the Act”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq.1 The case currently is before the
court on defendant’s motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6).2 Upon consideration of the motion, briefs, and accompanying materials
(including the supplemental submission filed by Keeton on April 15, 2014),3 the court
concludes the motion should be granted.
I. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Doc. no. 1 (Complaint).
Doc. no. 9. The motion was styled as a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for
summary judgment. This court entered an order on March 3, 2014, finding that it was not necessary
to convert the motion to one for summary judgment, even though it was accompanied by evidentiary
material. Accordingly, the motion will be considered as a motion to dismiss. Doc. no. 10.
Doc. no. 17.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), which permits a party to move to
dismiss a complaint for, among other reasons, “failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted,” must be read in conjunction with Rule 8(a), which requires that
a pleading contain only a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). While that pleading standard
does not require “detailed factual allegations,” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 544
U.S. 544, 550 (2007), it does demand “more than an unadorned, the-defendantunlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)
A pleading that offers “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation
of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” [Twombly, 550 U.S.,
at 555]. Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders “naked assertion[s]”
devoid of “further factual enhancement.” Id., at 557.
To survive a motion to dismiss founded upon Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), [for failure to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted], a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to “state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.”
Id., at 570. A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Id., at 556. The
plausibility standard is not akin to a “probability requirement,” but it
asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully. Ibid. Where a complaint pleads facts that are “merely
consistent with” a defendant’s liability, it “stops short of the line between
possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement to relief.’” Id., at 557
Two working principles underlie our decision in Twombly. First,
the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained
in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals
of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice. Id., at 555 (Although for the purposes of a
motion to dismiss we must take all of the factual allegations in the
complaint as true, we “are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion
couched as a factual allegation” (internal quotation marks omitted)).
Rule 8 marks a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical,
code-pleading regime of a prior era, but it does not unlock the doors of
discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions.
Second, only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives
a motion to dismiss. Id., at 556. Determining whether a complaint states
a plausible claim for relief will, as the Court of Appeals observed, be a
context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its
judicial experience and common sense. 490 F.3d, at 157-158. But
where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than
the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged — but it
has not “show[n]” — “that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. Rule
Civ. Proc. 8(a)(2).
In keeping with these principles a court considering a motion to
dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they
are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth.
While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they
must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded
factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then
determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79 (emphasis supplied).
II. ALLEGATIONS OF PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT
Alleged Debt Collection Activities
Defendant, Janice Keeton, is an attorney practicing in Lauderdale County,
Alabama.4 On behalf of her client, RCHP-Florence, LLC d/b/a ECM Hospital, Ms.
Keeton filed a debt collection lawsuit against plaintiff, Chad E. Hammond, a resident
of Lawrence County, Tennessee, in Small Claims Court in Lauderdale County,
Alabama. The debt collection action was assigned Case No. 2013-900378.00.5
Hammond asserts that he is a “consumer,” and Keeton is a “debt collector,” as those
terms are defined by the Act.6 Hammond also appeared pro se in the debt collection
In this case, Hammond challenges several of Keeton’s activities in connection
with her representation of RCHP/Florence in the underlying debt collection action.
Hammond asserts that Keeton did not provide him with an “initial communication” in
connection with collection of the alleged debt, as required by the Act.7 He also asserts
that Keeton did not send him a written debt collection notice containing the language
required by the Act.8 Hammond sent Keeton a written “Notice of Dispute of Alleged
Complaint ¶ 4.
Id. ¶¶ 2, 8-9.
Id. ¶¶ 3, 5. The Act defines a “consumer” as “any natural person obligated or allegedly
obligated to pay any debt.” 16 U.S.C. § 1692a(3). A “debt collector” is defined as “any person who
uses any instrumentality of interstate commerce or the mails in any business the principal purpose
of which is the collection of any debts, or who regularly collects or attempts to collect, directly or
indirectly, debts owed or due or asserted to be owed or due another.” 16 U.S.C. § 1692a(6).
Complaint ¶ 10.
Complaint ¶ 12. In support of this allegation, Hammond cites 16 U.S.C. § 1692g, which
provides, in pertinent part:
Notice of debt; contents
Debt” after he received his summons in the debt collection lawsuit,9 but Keeton never
responded to that notice, as allegedly required by the Act.10 Keeton also did not
provide Hammond with the name and address of the original creditor, even though
Hammond requested that information in writing.11 Keeton neither verified the validity
of the alleged debt, nor ceased collection activity after receiving Hammond’s “Notice
Within five days after the initial communication with a consumer in
connection with the collection of any debt, a debt collector shall, unless the
following information is contained in the initial communication or the consumer has
paid the debt, send the consumer a written notice containing —
(1) the amount of the debt;
(2) the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;
(3) a statement that unless the consumer, within thirty days after receipt of
the notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt will be
assumed to be valid by the debt collector;
(4) a statement that if the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing
within the thirty-day period that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, the debt
collector will obtain verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment against the
consumer and a copy of such verification or judgment will be mailed to the consumer
by the debt collector; and
(5) a statement that, upon the consumer’s written request within the thirty-day
period, the debt collector will provide the consumer with the name and address of the
original creditor, if different from the current creditor.
15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a).
Complaint ¶ 13. See also id. at Exhibit A (Notice of Dispute of Alleged Debt).
Complaint ¶ 14. See 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a)(4).
Complaint ¶ 15. See 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a)(5).
of Dispute of Alleged Debt.”12 Instead, she proceeded with the debt collection action
in Small Claims Court.13
Hammond asserts that Keeton’s actions “breached the law and her lawful duty
to [Hammond] by violating his federally protected consumer rights through
noncompliance with [the Act’s] debt collection practices.”14 That breach of the law
“proximately caused [Hammond] to suffer money loss, mental and emotional distress,
embarrassment and humiliation.”15
Other Facts Related to the Underlying Debt Collection Lawsuit
Hammond also alleges that Keeton “obtained a default judgment against [him]
in small claims court without verifying the alleged debt,”16 and that Keeton “was
granted an additional $500.00 attorney fee upon her request to the trial court because
[Hammond] raised the federal issue of FDCPA requirements for debt collector
[Keeton.]”17 The documents submitted by Keeton in support of her motion to dismiss
Complaint ¶¶ 16-17. See 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a)(4); 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(b) (“If the consumer
notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period described in subsection (a) of this
section that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, or that the consumer requests the name and
address of the original creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed
portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or a copy of a judgment, or
the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or judgment, or name
and address of the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.”).
Complaint ¶ 18.
Id.¶ 26 (alterations supplied).
Id. ¶ 27 (alteration supplied). See also id. ¶¶ 21-22.
Id. ¶ 19 (alteration supplied).
Id. ¶ 20 (alterations supplied).
clarify those allegations.
A September 4, 2013 order of the Circuit Court of
Lauderdale County in the underlying debt collection lawsuit states:
THIS CAUSE came before the Court for trial. District Judge
Carole Medley having recused herself[,] this cause was assigned to the
undersigned Circuit Judge sitting specially as District Judge for
On May 23, 2013 plaintiff filed a small claim action against
defendant claiming defendant owed plaintiff one thousand thirty-eight
dollars and ninety-five cents ($1,038.95) for services and/or goods
rendered. On June 11, 2013 defendant, acting pro se, filed an answer
denying responsibility and filed a “Motion to Dismiss for Lack of
Jurisdiction” and “Motion to Strike Sham Complaint” and a “Cross-Claim
Complaint” making bizarre allegations against the attorney for the
On July 17, 2013 this court denied defendant’s Motion to Strike,
denied defendant’s Motion to Dismiss[,] and granted plaintiff’s Motion
to Dismiss Cross-Complaint.
Thereafter the defendant filed a plethora of motions challenging the
court’s jurisdiction and procedures in a transparent attempt to defeat this
simple collection process. This court denied those spurious attempts and
proceeded to trial. Plaintiff called defendant as [its] first witness. Mr.
Hammond refused to testify and[,] when the court insisted [that defendant
to respond to the questions of plaintiff’s attorney] unless he asserted some
constitutional privilege[,] the defendant offered to allow the court to enter
a default judgment against him. This offer was accepted by the plaintiff
and the court.
Ms. Keeton, attorney for plaintiff, requested a judgment for
attorney fees in the amount of five hundred dollars ($500.00) in light of
the defendant’s antics. That motion was granted.
Default judgment, by consent of the defendant, is therefore
rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant in the amount
of $1,538.95 for which execution may issue.18
Keeton also submitted a copy of the cross-claim Hammond filed against her on
June 11, 2013 in the underlying, state-court collection case.19 In that cross-claim,
Hammond asserted that Keeton was a debt collector under the Act,20 that Keeton tried
to collect an alleged debt from him by filing a complaint in the Small Claims Court for
Lauderdale County,21 and that Keeton did not provide him with any notice or
opportunity to dispute the alleged debt before filing that complaint.22 Hammond also
asserted that he sent Keeton a “Notice of Dispute of Alleged Debt” after receiving his
summons in the underlying debt collection action, but that Keeton refused to withdraw
the complaint against him in Small Claims Court, or to verify the alleged debt per the
Notice of Dispute of Alleged Debt.23 Accordingly, Hammond asserted that Keeton
“willfully violated all the federally mandated debt collection procedures set forth” in
Doc. no. 9, Exhibit A (September 4, 2013 Order of the Circuit Court of Lauderdale
County, Alabama in RCHP-Florence, LLC d/b/a ECM Hospital v. Chad Hammond, Case No. SM13-900378), at 1-2 (alterations supplied).
Doc. no. 9, at Exhibit B (“Cross-Claim/Complaint” filed on June 11, 2013, in RCHPFlorence, LLC d/b/a ECM Hospital v. Chad Hammond, Case No. SM-13-900378 in the “Small
Claims Court of Lauderdale County, Alabama”). Setting aside any potential merit or non-merit of
Hammond’s claim against Keeton, those claims would have been more appropriately asserted as a
third-party claim instead of a cross-claim, because Keeton was not previously a party to the action.
That issue was never raised before the state court, however, and there is no need to address it here.
Id. ¶ 2.
Id. ¶ 5.
Id. ¶ 6.
Id. ¶¶ 8, 11.
Based upon those allegations, Hammond asserted two cross claims against
Keeton. In the first, Hammond asserted that Keeton had a duty to follow all applicable
debt collection procedures set forth in the Act, but that she breached that duty by
“skipping all mandated FDCPA collection procedures in regards to [Hammond’s]
alleged debt collection.”25 Specifically, Keeton sued Hammond without giving him
any prior notice or an opportunity to dispute the alleged debt, and she ignored
Hammond’s “Notice of Dispute of Alleged Debt.”26 As a result of those actions,
Hammond asserted that he “suffered loss of time from business and family, money
damages and emotional stress,”27 and he requested relief in the amount of $5,000,
“together with such other and further relief as the Court may deem reasonable and just
under the circumstances.”28 The second cross-claim is virtually identical to the first.29
Keeton filed a motion to dismiss Hammond’s cross-claims on June 12, 2013.30
The motion stated, in its entirety:
Id. ¶ 7 (emphasis in original).
Cross-Claim/Complaint in Case No. Sm-13-900378, at ¶¶ 13-15 (alteration supplied).
Id. ¶¶ 16-17.
Id. ¶ 18.
Id. (“WHEREFORE” clause).
Id. ¶¶ 19-25.
Doc. no. 17 (Reply to Court’s Order), at Exhibit 1 (Motion to Dismiss CrossClaim/Complaint).
COMES NOW, the Cross-claim Defendant, JANICE KEETON,
and files this Motion to Dismiss Cross-Claim/Complaint. As grounds for
said motion the Cross-claim Defendant states the following:
That the Cross-claim Defendant is not a proper party.
The Cross-claim Defendant is merely Attorney of Record for
the Plaintiff, RCHP-Florence, LLC dba Shoals Hospital.
That said claim exceeds the jurisdictional limits of the small
That the Cross-claim Defendant requests that this Honorable
Court dismiss the Cross-claim/Complaint, with prejudice, in that the
Cross-claim Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted pursuant to Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 12(b)(6).
In addition, the Cross-Claim/Complaint is due to be
dismissed due to insufficiency of process and/or insufficiency of service
of process in accordance with Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4.
WHEREFORE, the Cross-Claim Defendant, JANICE KEETON,
respectfully requests that this Honorable Court dismiss the CrossClaim/Complaint, with prejudice, for the above-referenced reasons.31
Lauderdale County Circuit Judge Michael T. Jones, sitting specially as a District
Court Judge, entered an order on July 17, 2013, stating, in pertinent part: “Plaintiff’s
Motion to Dismiss Cross-Complaint is GRANTED.”32
As previously discussed, a default judgment was entered in the underlying debt
Id. at 1-2 (all emphasis in original).
Doc. no. 17, Exhibit 2 (July 17, 2013 Order of the Circuit Court of Lauderdale County,
Alabama, in Case No. SM-13-900378), at 1.
collection action in favor of RCHP-Florence, and against Hammond, on September 4,
2013.33 Even though that judgment was entered with the consent of Hammond, he filed
a “Notice of Appeal Taken Directly to Appellate Court” in the Small Claims Court of
Lauderdale County, Alabama, on September 18, 2013.34 He stated that the appeal was
taken to address the following issues:
1. Whether or not the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act at 15
U.S.C. § 1692 et seq. (“FDCPA”) debt collection procedural mandates are
applicable to Alabama debt collectors who meet the statutory definition;
2. Whether or not Alabama District Courts are subject to and must
comply with the FDCPA statutory debt collection provisions.35
The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals entered an order on January 14, 2014, stating
that Hammond’s appeal was “[t]ransferred to the Circuit Court of Lauderdale County
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.”36 There is nothing further in this record to
indicate what, if anything, next occurred in the state court proceedings.
The motion to dismiss that Keeton filed in the present proceeding asserted three
Doc. no. 17, at Exhibit 3 (September 4, 2013 Order of the Circuit Court of Lauderdale
County, Alabama, in Case No. SM-13-900378).
Doc. no. 17, at Exhibit 4. See Ala. Code § 12-12-72 (“Appeals shall be directly to the
appropriate appellate court if: (1) An adequate record or stipulation of facts is available and the right
to a jury trial is waived by all parties entitled thereto; or (2) The parties stipulate that only questions
of law are involved and the district court certifies the questions.”).
Doc. no. 17, Exhibit 4, at 1.
Doc. no. 17, Exhibit 5 (January 14, 2014 Transfer Notice from the Alabama Court of Civil
Appeals), at 1 (alteration supplied).
conclusory arguments to support the dismissal of Hammond’s claims against her: i.e.,
(1) that she is not a “debt collector” as defined by the Act;37 (2) that Hammond “asked
for a default judgment[ in the underlying, state-court proceedings,] thereby negating
any claim he may have in this regard”;38 and (3) that Hammond’s claims are barred by
res judicata.39 After being ordered to file a brief more fully developing her arguments
and supporting them with legal authority,40 Keeton filed a three-page brief, though
separate counsel, asserting only the res judicata argument.41 Accordingly, Keeton’s
other arguments will be deemed abandoned, and the court will focus solely on res
When a federal court is “‘asked to give res judicata effect to a state court
judgment, [it] must apply the res judicata principles of the law of the state whose
decision is set up as a bar to further litigation.’” Kizzire v. Baptist Health System, Inc.,
441 F.3d 1306, 1308 (11th Cir. 2006) (alteration supplied) (quoting Amey, Inc. v. Gulf
Abstract & Title, Inc., 758 F.2d 1486, 1509 (11th Cir. 1985)).
Doc. no. 9 ¶ 2.
Id. ¶ 3 (alteration supplied).
Id. ¶ 4.
See doc. no. 10, at 3 n.7 (“Defendant’s motion [to dismiss] contains one page of
conclusory, underdeveloped assertions. Those assertions must be more fully developed and
supported by legal authority.”) (alteration supplied).
Doc. no. 13. The brief actually contains only two pages of legal argument. The other page
is taken up by the heading, signature block, and certificate of service.
Under Alabama law, “the essential elements of res judicata are (1) a prior
judgment on the merits, (2) rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction,
(3) with substantial identity of the parties, and (4) with the same cause of
action presented in both actions.” Equity Res. Mgmt., Inc. v. Vinson, 723
So. 2d 634, 636 (Ala. 1998). If all four elements are met, any claim that
was, or could have been, adjudicated in the prior action is barred from
future litigation. Id.
Kizzire, 441 F.3d at 1308-09. See also Chapman Nursing Home, Inc. v. McDonald,
985 So. 2d 914, 919 (Ala. 2007) (same).
Keeton asserts that Hammond’s claims against her in this case are barred by the
judgment entered by the state court on the cross-claim Hammond asserted against her
in the underlying collection action. Hammond does not dispute that the third and
fourth elements of the res judicata analysis are satisfied.42 Indeed, Hammond’s crossclaim in state court involved the same parties (Hammond and Keeton) and the same
cause of action (violation of the FDCPA) as the instant case. Therefore, the only
remaining considerations are whether the state court’s dismissal of Hammond’s crossclaim was a judgment on the merits, and whether the state court had jurisdiction to
enter that judgment.
With regard to the first element, Keeton specifically moved for the dismissal of
Hammond’s cross-claim with prejudice,43 and the state court granted that motion.
See doc. no. 14 (Plaintiff’s Response to Defendant’s Brief in Support of Motion to
Dismiss) ¶ 4 (stating that “elements (1) and (2) fail,” but not mentioning elements 3 and 4).
Doc. no. 17, Exhibit 1, at 2.
Although the state court’s order of dismissal did not specifically state whether the
dismissal was with prejudice or without prejudice, there is no reason to reach any
conclusion other than that the state court was granting Keeton’s request for a dismissal
with prejudice. Further, Alabama Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b), addressing the effect
of involuntary dismissals, provides:
For failure of the plaintiff to prosecute or to comply with these
rules or any order of court, a defendant may move for dismissal of an
action or of any claim against the defendant. Unless the court in its order
for dismissal otherwise specifies, a dismissal under this subdivision and
any dismissal not provided for in this rule, other than a dismissal for lack
of jurisdiction, for improper venue, or for failure to join a party under
Rule 19, operates as an adjudication upon the merits.
Under Alabama law, a dismissal with prejudice constitutes a decision on the merits.
See Hundley v. J.F. Spann Timber, Inc., 962 So.2d 187, 192 (Ala. 2007). Therefore,
the first element of res judicata is satisfied.
With regard to the second element, Hammond argues that the state court lacked
jurisdiction to adjudicate his cross-claim against Keeton because he requested relief in
the amount of $5,000, and the Small Claims Courts within the State of Alabama cannot
adjudicate claims in excess of $3,000. The Alabama court system does not actually
provide for a separate Small Claims Court. Instead,
[t]he district court shall exercise exclusive jurisdiction over all civil
actions in which the matter in controversy, exclusive of interest and costs,
does not exceed three thousand dollars ($3,000). These actions shall be
placed on a small claims docket by each district court and shall be
processed according to uniform rules of simplified civil procedure as may
be promulgated by the Supreme Court.
Ala. Code § 12-12-31 (alteration supplied). If a counterclaim or cross-claim for more
than $3,000 is filed in a case that has been placed on the “small claims docket,” then
the case is transferred to the regular docket in the District Court, and the difference
between the “small claims docket” filing fee and the regular District Court filing fee
must be paid. See Opinion of the Clerk, Supreme Court of Alabama, No. 45, 526 So.2d
584, 586 (Ala. 1988) (“[T]he difference between the small claims court filing fee and
the regular district court filing fee should be collected by the court clerk from the
defendant when a case is transferred from the small claims docket of the district court
to the regular district court docket because the defendant has filed a counterclaim in an
amount exceeding the jurisdictional limits of the small claims court.”) (citing Opinion
of the Clerk No. 35, 397 So.2d 545 (Ala.1981)).44 There is no information in this
The relevant provisions of the Alabama filing fee structure are:
The filing fees which shall be collected in civil cases shall be:
(1) Thirty-five dollars ($35) for cases filed on the small claims docket of the
district court in which the matter in controversy, exclusive of interest, costs, and
attorney fees, totals one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500) or less; provided,
however, if attorney fees have been allowed by applicable state law or contract, the
amount of these fees shall be added to the amount of the matter in controversy above
in determining the jurisdictional amount.
(2) One hundred nine dollars ($109) for cases filed on the small claims docket
of the district court in which the matter in controversy, exclusive of interest, costs,
record regarding whether the difference between the “small claims” docket fee and
regular District Court filing fee was paid, but it does appear that the case was
transferred to the District Court, and then reassigned to a Circuit Court Judge sitting
by designation as the District Court Judge after the District Judge previously assigned
to the case recused herself.45 There is no question that the District Court, or even the
and attorney fees, exceeds one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500) but does not
exceed three thousand dollars ($3,000); provided, however, if attorney fees have
been allowed by applicable state law or contract, the amount of these fees shall be
added to the amount of the matter in controversy above in determining the
(3) One hundred ninety-eight dollars ($198) for cases otherwise filed in the
district court in which the matter in controversy, exclusive of interest, costs, and
attorney fees, exceeds three thousand dollars ($3,000) but does not exceed ten
thousand dollars ($10,000); provided, however, if attorney fees have been allowed
by applicable state law or contract, the amount of these fees shall be added to the
amount of the matter in controversy above in determining the jurisdictional amount.
(4) Two hundred ninety-seven dollars ($297) for cases filed in the circuit
court other than cases filed on the domestic relations docket of the circuit court.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the docket fee shall be one hundred
ninety-seven dollars ($197) for civil cases in circuit court in which the matter of
controversy, exclusive of interest, costs, and attorney fees does not exceed fifty
thousand dollars ($50,000); provided, however, if attorney fees have been allowed
by applicable state law or contract, the amount of these fees shall be added to the
amount of the matter in controversy above in determining the jurisdictional amount.
However, if any plaintiff files an addendum to increase the damages requested to an
amount that exceeds fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), or if the plaintiff fails to
specify the amount in the filing, then the fee shall be two hundred ninety-seven
dollars ($297) and distributed as provided for in subdivision (4) of Section 12-19-72.
Ala. Code § 12-19-71(a)(1)-(4).
See doc. no. 17, Exhibit 2, at 1 (containing the prefatory language “THIS CAUSE came
before the Court on pre-trial motions after recusal of the District Court judge and reassignment to
this court sitting as the District Court”) (emphasis supplied); doc. no. 17, Exhibit 3, at 1 (“containing
the prefatory language “THIS CAUSE came before the court for trial. District Judge Carole
Medley having recused herself this cause was assigned to the undersigned Circuit Judge sitting
Circuit Court, would have jurisdiction over Hammond’s cross-claim. See Ala. Code
§ 12-12-30 (“The original civil jurisdiction of the district court of Alabama shall be
uniform throughout the state, concurrent with the circuit court, except as otherwise
provided, and shall include all civil actions in which the matter in controversy does not
exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000), exclusive of interest and costs . . . .”).
Accordingly, the second element of the res judicata analysis is satisfied.
IV. CONCLUSION AND ORDER
In accordance with the foregoing, Keeton’s motion to dismiss is GRANTED.
Hammond’s claims are barred by the doctrine of res judicata, and they are accordingly
DISMISSED with prejudice. Costs are taxed to plaintiff. The Clerk is directed to
close this file.
DONE and ORDERED this 17th day of April, 2014.
United States District Judge
specially as District Judge for Lauderdale County”) (emphasis supplied).
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