All posts by Mike Newman

SCOA: Only State Has Authority to Direct Summons


In the March 31, 2011 opinion Gatson v. Billings, 2011 Ark. 125, the Arkansas Supreme Court held that a summons stating it is from an individual rather than from the State of Arkansas is invalid.

Appellant Mizell Gatson brought a negligence suit against appellee Freddie Billings. The suit stemmed from a 2004 vehicle accident.

Billings answered the complaint and then filed a motion to dismiss asserting insufficient process. The summons stated it was from “MIZELL GATSON TO DEFENDANT” rather than from “STATE OF ARKANSAS TO DEFENDANT.”

The circuit court dismissed Gatson’s lawsuit without prejudice. The supreme court affirmed the dismissal. Continue reading SCOA: Only State Has Authority to Direct Summons

SCOA: Dismissal Without Prejudice Due to No Timely Service Is Unappealable

In the March 3, 2011 opinion Carroll v. Baker, 2011 Ark. 98, the Arkansas Supreme Court held that a dismissal for failure to accomplish timely service is not appealable if the plaintiff has the option to refile.

On January 7, 2010, Appellant Conray Carroll brought suit against Appellee Dawn Baker, a deputy clerk in the Pulaski County Circuit Clerk’s office. Carroll contended that his due process rights had been violated when the transcript for an appeal of an earlier suit he filed, relating to his 1997 rape conviction, was not tendered to the appellate court due to his not paying certain fees.

The 2010 lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice by the circuit court when it was not served on Baker within 120 days. Rule 4(i) of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure requires service on a defendant within 120 days of the complaint being filed. Carroll appealed the dismissal.

The Arkansas Supreme Court dismissed Carroll’s appeal. Continue reading SCOA: Dismissal Without Prejudice Due to No Timely Service Is Unappealable

ACOA: Appeal Clock Starts 30 Days After Filing Ungranted Rule 60 Motion

Failure to comply with appellate filing deadlines will almost guarantee a dismissal on appeal. Here is a case in point.

In Reimer v. Ragsdale, 2011 Ark. App. 81, decided on February 2, 2011, appellant David Reimer brought suit against appellees Sandra and Eldon Ragsdale because of alleged defects in a house he bought from them.

Here are the key dates:

  • November 5, 2009 – circuit court granted the Ragsdales’ motion to dismiss.
  • November 18, 2009 – Reimer filed a motion for relief from the judgment per Rule 60 of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure.
  • January 14, 2010 – the Rule 60 motion was denied.
  • February 11, 2010 – Reimer filed a notice of appeal.

The Arkansas Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal as untimely. Continue reading ACOA: Appeal Clock Starts 30 Days After Filing Ungranted Rule 60 Motion

SCOA: Sovereign Immunity Trumps County Court Road Jurisdiction

In Arkansas Game and Fish Com’n v. Eddings, — S.W.3d —-, 2011 Ark. 47, issued February 9, 2011, the Arkansas Supreme Court held that the Arkansas Constitution’s grant of jurisdiction to county courts over county roads does not create an exception to the State’s sovereign immunity from suit.

Appellee Ben Eddings owns about 40 acres of property near the Buffalo National River in Newton County. The property is landlocked on two sides by National Park Service property and on two sides by the Gene Rush Wildlife Management Area, owned by appellant Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC), a state agency.

On April 20, 2005, Eddings filed a petition with the Newton County Court to establish a road across the AGFC property. On January 9, 2006, the county court entered an order permitting Eddings ingress and egress across the AGFC land. AGFC unsuccessfully sought dismissal on the basis of sovereign immunity, and then appealed to the circuit court. The Newton County Circuit Court determined that article 7, section 28 of the Arkansas Constitution, granting to county courts exclusive original jurisdiction over county roads, prevailed over the State’s claim of sovereign immunity.

The Arkansas Supreme Court disagreed. Continue reading SCOA: Sovereign Immunity Trumps County Court Road Jurisdiction

SCOA: Unallocated Joint Offer of Judgment Invalid When Speculation Is Required

In Pope v. Overton, 2011 Ark. 11, issued January 20, 2011 (yesterday), the Arkansas Supreme Court held that Rule 68 does not apply to an unallocated joint offer of judgment by multiple defendants if the circuit court must speculate as to how the offer was to be divided by the defendants.

Appellants Ricky and Christine Pope brought suit against Appellees Michael Overton and Entergy Arkansas, Inc. asserting conversion and trespass causes of action because of power lines placed on the Popes’ property without permission.

Prior to trial, Entergy and Overton made a joint offer of judgment to the Popes for $2,500.00. At trial, Entergy was granted a directed verdict. Overton stipulated to liability on conversion and was granted a directed verdict for damages of $566.86. The jury rejected the trespass claim. Continue reading SCOA: Unallocated Joint Offer of Judgment Invalid When Speculation Is Required