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ALABAMA COURT OF CIVIL APPEALS

OCTOBER TERM, 2009-2010

2080742

Hajo Drees v. K i l e T. Turner, R i c h a r d L. V i n c e n t , and Sara Turner Appeal from J e f f e r s o n C i r c u i t (CV-07-4368.80) Court

On A p p l i c a t i o n f o r R e h e a r i n g MOORE, J u d g e . T h i s c o u r t ' s o p i n i o n o f December 18, 2009, i s w i t h d r a w n , and the following i s substituted therefor.

2080742 This this App. i s the See second time these D r e e s v. first Turner, appeal, p a r t i e s have b e e n 10 So. 3d 601 before

court. 2008).

(Ala. Civ. this

I n the

Hajo Drees argued to

c o u r t t h a t the orders L.

J e f f e r s o n C i r c u i t C o u r t had

erred in entering Turner, Richard the

d i s m i s s i n g h i s a c t i o n a g a i n s t K i l e T. and Sara Turner ("the

Vincent,

d e f e n d a n t s " ) b a s e d on

d o c t r i n e of j u d i c i a l immunity. s u b s t a n c e of t h a t argument b u t , trial motions court to had impermissibly to motions

This c o u r t d i d not address the i n s t e a d , concluded converted for a the that the

defendants' judgment by

dismiss

summary

c o n s i d e r i n g matters o u t s i d e the p l e a d i n g s . 03. App. given the Relying on P o s t o n v. Smith, 666 So.

10 So. 2d 833

3d a t 602¬ (Ala. Civ. have

1995), t h i s

c o u r t h e l d t h a t the t r i a l opportunity to

court should

t h e p a r t i e s an

submit evidence

outside we

pleadings

to b o l s t e r t h e i r

r e s p e c t i v e p o s i t i o n s , and remanded " t h e

reversed

the orders

o f d i s m i s s a l and

cause f o r

further proceedings 10 So. On 3d a t 603.

consistent with this [court's] opinion."

remand, t h e t r i a l

court ordered

the p a r t i e s to

attend the in

a status conference, trial court of "the

a t w h i c h t h e p a r t i e s were t o a p p r i s e path this litigation will take

2

2080742 consonance [with the Court of Civil Appeals' opinion]."

F o l l o w i n g that conference, trial court On regarding March

the p a r t i e s submitted i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the trial

b r i e f s t o the this court's a

their 20,

mandate.

2009,

court

entered

judgment i n which i t e x p l a i n e d outside the p l e a d i n g s ,

t h a t i t had

reviewed m a t e r i a l i n response

w h i c h D r e e s had

submitted

t o t h e d e f e n d a n t s ' m o t i o n s t o d i s m i s s , b u t t h a t i t had done so o n l y b e c a u s e i t "was what was The trial included court necessary to read everything to determine i n [ D r e e s ' s ] C o m p l a i n t and stated the that that i t had not what was its The of not." initial trial that to

based

decision to dismiss court acknowledged in

a c t i o n on i t had orders

that material. quoted a portion the

material

i t s original

granting

motions

d i s m i s s , but, had not

i t s t a t e d , t h e l a n g u a g e was the court language in

m e r e l y d i c t a and i t its decision-making a judgment

considered The trial

process.

thereafter

reentered

d i s m i s s i n g the a c t i o n w i t h o u t to conduct discovery or to

a f f o r d i n g D r e e s any submit

opportunity in on

a d d i t i o n a l evidence considered

s u p p o r t o f h i s p o s i t i o n t h a t t h e c a s e s h o u l d be summary judgment. Drees appealed to the

Alabama

Supreme this

C o u r t ; t h a t c o u r t determined t h a t the appeal f e l l w i t h i n

3

2080742 c o u r t ' s a p p e l l a t e j u r i s d i c t i o n and, a c c o r d i n g l y , t r a n s f e r r e d the appeal In to this court. Drees i n i t i a l l y to follow this argues court's that the trial

this

appeal,

court erred i n f a i l i n g

mandate.

" ' I t i s t h e d u t y o f t h e t r i a l c o u r t , on remand, t o c o m p l y s t r i c t l y w i t h t h e mandate o f t h e a p p e l l a t e c o u r t a c c o r d i n g t o i t s t r u e i n t e n t a n d m e a n i n g , as d e t e r m i n e d by t h e d i r e c t i o n s g i v e n b y t h e r e v i e w i n g c o u r t . No j u d g m e n t o t h e r t h a n t h a t d i r e c t e d o r p e r m i t t e d b y t h e r e v i e w i n g c o u r t may be e n t e r e d The a p p e l l a t e c o u r t ' s d e c i s i o n i s f i n a l as t o a l l m a t t e r s b e f o r e i t , becomes t h e l a w o f t h e c a s e , and must be e x e c u t e d a c c o r d i n g t o t h e mandate '" Ex p a r t e A l a b a m a ( q u o t i n g 5 Am. Power Co., 431 So. 2d 151, 155 ( A l a . 1983)

J u r . 2d A p p e a l and E r r o r § 991 Power, our c o n c l u s i o n

(1962)). i n the first

P u r s u a n t t o Alabama appeal t h a t the t r i a l

c o u r t had c o n s i d e r e d case.

evidence

outside

the p l e a d i n g s

became t h e l a w o f t h e

" ' " U n d e r t h e d o c t r i n e o f t h e 'law o f t h e c a s e , ' whatever i s once e s t a b l i s h e d b e t w e e n t h e same p a r t i e s i n t h e same c a s e c o n t i n u e s t o be t h e l a w o f that case, w h e t h e r o r n o t c o r r e c t on general principles, so l o n g as t h e f a c t s on w h i c h t h e d e c i s i o n was p r e d i c a t e d c o n t i n u e t o be t h e f a c t s o f t h e c a s e . " ' S t o c k t o n v. CKPD Dev. Co., LLC, 982 So. 2d 1061, 1066 ( A l a . 2007) ( q u o t i n g B l u m b e r g v. Touche R o s s & Co., 514 So. 2d 922, 924 ( A l a . 1 9 8 7 ) ) . ' f U l n l e s s t h e f a c t s upon w h i c h t h e h o l d i n g o f t h e C o u r t o f C i v i l A p p e a l s was p r e d i c a t e d have c h a n g e d , the h o l d i n g of the Court of C i v i l Appeals i s the law o f t h e c a s e . ' S t o c k t o n , 982 So. 2d a t 1066-67."

4

2080742 M.M. (Ala. Foods, v. D.P. , [Ms. C i v . App. Inc., the 789 2080592, O c t . 30, 2009] So. 3d , Discount court

2009) ( e m p h a s i s a d d e d ) . So. 2d 842

I n Ex p a r t e the

( A l a . 2001), d o c t r i n e as

supreme

explained

law-of-the-case

follows:

"The p u r p o s e o f t h e d o c t r i n e i s t o b r i n g an end t o litigation by foreclosing the possibility of r e p e a t e d l y l i t i g a t i n g an i s s u e a l r e a d y d e c i d e d . ... However, t h e l a w - o f - t h e - c a s e d o c t r i n e does n o t i n a l l circumstances r e q u i r e r i g i d adherence to r u l i n g s made a t an e a r l i e r s t a g e o f a c a s e . The doctrine d i r e c t s a c o u r t ' s d i s c r e t i o n ; i t does n o t l i m i t a c o u r t ' s p o w e r . The l a w - o f - t h e - c a s e d o c t r i n e i s one o f p r a c t i c e o r c o u r t p o l i c y , n o t o f i n f l e x i b l e law 789 So. 2d a t 846 this n.4. court held i n the first appeal that the in that

Although trial

c o u r t had

considered

evidence outside the

the p l e a d i n g s

rendering

i t s orders

of d i s m i s s a l , changed. trial

f a c t s upon w h i c h r e c o r d now

h o l d i n g was information

b a s e d have now directly

The court

contains trial the

from the

i n which the

c o u r t e x p l a i n s t h a t i t d i d not pleadings purpose of in ruling on the was

consider to

evidence outside dismiss. that the The court

motions to

whole had

the

reversal

assure

followed proper procedures before disposed D r e e s an of.

D r e e s ' s c a s e was

summarily allowing the

T h a t p u r p o s e w o u l d have b e e n s e r v e d by to present

5

opportunity

additional

e v i d e n c e had

2080742 motions to dismiss been converted t o motions f o r a summary

j u d g m e n t ; h o w e v e r , t h a t p u r p o s e h a s now b e e n e q u a l l y s e r v e d b y t h e t r i a l c o u r t ' s r u l i n g on t h e m o t i o n s t o d i s m i s s w i t h o u t i t s c o n s i d e r i n g any m a t e r i a l o u t s i d e t h e p l e a d i n g s . Accordingly, that court

b a s e d on t h e p a r t i c u l a r f a c t s a d d u c e d on remand, we h o l d the law-of-the-case d o c t r i n e d i dnot prevent the t r i a l

from r e e n t e r i n g a judgment d i s m i s s i n g t h e case. Drees next argues that the trial court erred in

dismissing the action.

General

rules of pleading require only statement of the Rule

t h a t a c o m p l a i n a n t make "a s h o r t a n d p l a i n c l a i m showing t h a t t h e p l e a d e r 8 ( a ) ( 1 ) , A l a . R. C i v . P. 11-page c o m p l a i n t pages. with

i s entitled to relief."

D r e e s , h o w e v e r , e l e c t e d t o f i l e an t o 15 e x h i b i t s was f i l e d totaling 77

reference which

In the complaint,

on December 13,

2007, D r e e s made t h e f o l l o w i n g a l l e g a t i o n s : A n g e l a T u r n e r h a d been involved i n a custody-modification husband dispute with Kile since

Turner,

h e r former

and a l i c e n s e d a t t o r n e y , proceedings,

November 2005.

During

the custody

w h i c h we w i l l Angela.

r e f e r t o as " t h e Turner custody Subsequently, K i l e , Vincent, Kile's

case,"

Drees m a r r i e d

S a r a T u r n e r , K i l e ' s new w i f e , a n d R i c h a r d attorney in the Turner custody case,

6

2080742 separately wife, contacted Denita Steinbach in to Drees, an Drees's to former gain

and/or

Denita's

attorney Drees and

effort with

information custody obtained ("the

regarding

interfere

Drees's Vincent order

case a g a i n s t D e n i t a . a certified copy of

Through those

efforts,

a protection-from-abuse

PFA o r d e r " )

t h a t had b e e n e n t e r e d by a N e b r a s k a c o u r t i n o r d e r was o b t a i n e d by D e n i t a and

2004 a g a i n s t D r e e s ; t h e PFA was been i n force u n t i l violated.

June 2005, when i t e x p i r e d w i t h o u t Drees maintains that Denita had

having made

groundless the PFA

a c c u s a t i o n s o f abuse a g a i n s t him i n o r d e r t o o b t a i n order; that she and had since been committed the to a

psychiatric efforts to

facility; obstruct his

that,

despite case, he

defendants' gained

custody

eventually

c u s t o d y o f t h e c o u p l e ' s t h r e e c h i l d r e n , p r o v i n g t h a t t h e abuse a l l e g a t i o n s were On motion April i n the 2, false. 2007, V i n c e n t , custody on behalf of Kile, filed a had the

Turner

case

asserting that

Drees During

b e e n c o n v i c t e d o f d o m e s t i c v i o l e n c e upon D e n i t a . trial on of the Turner custody occasions c a s e i n May

2007, V i n c e n t

stated of

four separate

t h a t D r e e s had

been c o n v i c t e d

having

committed domestic v i o l e n c e not

only against

Denita,

7

2080742 b u t a l s o a g a i n s t one of Drees's children. Kile also stated

under o a t h t h a t Drees had been c o n v i c t e d o f d o m e s t i c against D e n i t a and a g a i n s t one of Drees's children.

violence Drees and

a s s e r t s t h a t , as t r a i n e d and l i c e n s e d a t t o r n e y s , b o t h K i l e V i n c e n t knew t h a t D r e e s h a d n e v e r b e e n c o n v i c t e d o f violence. Drees maintains that Kile's and

domestic Vincent's

s t a t e m e n t s were made i n o r d e r f o r K i l e t o g a i n c u s t o d y o f K i l e and A n g e l a ' s c h i l d r e n , t o g a i n c h i l d s u p p o r t f r o m A n g e l a , to to a v o i d any child-support o b l i g a t i o n s to Angela. and

According receiving mother. Turner the two

D r e e s , V i n c e n t b e n e f i t e d f r o m h i s s t a t e m e n t s by

o v e r $50,000 i n a t t o r n e y ' s f e e s f r o m K i l e and K i l e ' s On custody Turner June 14, 2007, the judge presiding over the

case e n t e r e d a judgment t r a n s f e r r i n g children to Kile. That judgment

custody of contained

s e p a r a t e , b u t r e l a t e d , f i n d i n g s t h a t Drees had been c o n v i c t e d of d o m e s t i c v i o l e n c e a g a i n s t D e n i t a and a g a i n s t one o f Angela, through her attorney, alerted the Drees's trial

children.

j u d g e d u r i n g t h e t r i a l and i n p o s t t r i a l m o t i o n s t h a t , i n f a c t , Drees had n o t been c o n v i c t e d o f d o m e s t i c v i o l e n c e . to Drees, to the t r i a l correct j u d g e d i d n o t g r a n t any m o t i o n the judgment. Subsequently, According filed by

Angela

public

8

2080742 documents r e c o r d i n g were "freely the s t a t e m e n t s made by i n the Kile and Vincent the

disseminated

community,"

including

s c h o o l two In Expunge custody his

of Drees's c h i l d r e n 2007, Drees

attended. a "Third Record" Party in Motion the to

October False case.

filed from

Information

the

Turner through of

At the h e a r i n g

on t h a t m o t i o n , D r e e s ,

attorney, represented

t h a t he had n e v e r b e e n c o n v i c t e d t h a t K i l e and V i n c e n t contention t h a t he had

d o m e s t i c v i o l e n c e and any evidence to

requested their the

produce been. The

support "Well,

Vincent judge

replied,

record the

speaks f o r i t s e l f . "

subsequently

amended

Turner

custody-modification been convicted PFA nor "the any

j u d g m e n t t o remove any

f i n d i n g t h a t D r e e s had

o f d o m e s t i c v i o l e n c e and t o i n s e r t a f i n d i n g t h a t o n l y t h e order Vincent had been entered against Drees. Neither Kile or to showed

ever

retracted their ever apologized

statements i n court to Drees, or ever

community," remorse. In

c o u n t one had

of h i s complaint,

Drees a l l e g e d t h a t

Kile

and V i n c e n t

invaded

h i s p r i v a c y by

"wrongfully intruding and the

i n t o h i s s o l i c i t u d e and

s e c l u s i o n of h i s p r i v a t e a f f a i r s and publicly violates

c o n c e r n s i n a manner t h a t c l e a r l y

9

2080742 o r d i n a r y d e c e n c i e s o f human b e h a v i o r false and p u t t i n g [Drees] i n a I n c o u n t two,

l i g h t i n h i s community a n d p r o f e s s i o n . " and V i n c e n t

Drees a l l e g e d t h a t K i l e

h a d c o m m i t t e d "abuse o f and

p r o c e s s on h i s p e r s o n when t h e y k n o w i n g l y , i n t e n t i o n a l l y deliberately orchestrated a guilty conviction

f o r domestic care, Drees inflict and

v i o l e n c e t h a t t h e y knew o r i n t h e e x e r c i s e o f r e a s o n a b l e should averred emotional have that known, Kile a n d was and false." had In count "intended three, to

Vincent

d i s t r e s s on

[ D r e e s ] when t h e y made h i m g u i l t y f e l o n y crime

c o n v i c t e d h i m o f an e r r o n e o u s a n d f a l s e his ex-wife a n d one o f h i s c h i l d r e n . " and V i n c e n t

against Drees

In count f o u r , "with such

asserted

that K i l e

had acted

extreme

and o u t r a g e o u s m i s c o n d u c t when t h e y o r c h e s t r a t e d , m a n u f a c t u r e d and otherwise falsely stated that [Drees] was guilty and

c o n v i c t e d of the felony crime of domestic v i o l e n c e against h i s ex-wife a n d one o f h i s c h i l d r e n . " and a c t i o n s i n lost of K i l e Drees claimed cost that the him over

statements $150,000

and V i n c e n t threatened to

billable

hours,

his

current

employment,

impaired

his ability

obtain

employment,

s t r a i n e d h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h A n g e l a and h i s t h r e e c h i l d r e n , caused him g r e a t mental anguish, and f o r c e d him t o i n c u r over

10

2080742 $9,490 i n l e g a l f e e s and and p u n i t i v e a jury. I n h i s amended c o m p l a i n t , f i l e d on J a n u a r y 4, 2008, D r e e s added Sara allegations as a defendant. After adopting a l l the factual costs. D r e e s demanded c o m p e n s a t o r y by

damages i n an u n s t a t e d amount t o be d e t e r m i n e d

and

c l a i m s a s s e r t e d i n the following additional

original

complaint, Sara is a

D r e e s made t h e licensed

allegations: had

practicing

attorney.

Sara

"aggressively" over

c o n t a c t e d D e n i t a , who 15 times since the

S a r a knew had p s y c h i a t r i c p r o b l e m s , spring of 2006 in order to

obtain used to

detrimental support contacts

i n f o r m a t i o n about petition i n the

Drees

that

c o u l d be case.

Kile's by

Turner

custody own

Those case

Sara

occurred

during

Drees's

custody

a g a i n s t D e n i t a ; they caused Denita g r e a t mental d i s t r e s s t h a t exacerbated her psychiatric problems, which subsequently

p r e v e n t e d D e n i t a from h a v i n g u n s u p e r v i s e d v i s i t a t i o n w i t h the Dreeses' with the children Dreeses' f o r over custody s i x months; and they Kile interfered used the

proceedings.

i n f o r m a t i o n S a r a had to gain Drees's

o b t a i n e d t o t h r e a t e n D r e e s i n an Kile's custody

effort

assistance with

petition.

S a r a , i n an e f f o r t t o p l a c e D r e e s i n a f a l s e l i g h t b e f o r e h i s

11

2080742 f a m i l y , h i s f r i e n d s , and outcome private of the Turner the community, and case, stated to influence "to that public Drees the and had

custody and

persons

i n person

i n documents"

b e e n c o n v i c t e d o f d o m e s t i c v i o l e n c e a g a i n s t D e n i t a and one Sara of Drees's children. On November 21,

against sent

2007, D r e e s her

a letter

a d v i s i n g her

t h a t he

considered

statements file with

and c o n d u c t a c t i o n a b l e and a d v i s i n g S a r a o f h i s i n t e n t t o a civil a c t i o n a g a i n s t her and to i n i t i a t e a complaint

the Alabama S t a t e Bar t o p r a c t i c e law u n l e s s discuss how this Sara

seeking she

the t e r m i n a t i o n of her l i c e n s e attorney righted contacted and the to him "to

or her can be

wrong

damage Angela's any not

repaired." attorney,

responded that

through Drees

counsel and

requesting

cease

desist

communication w i t h Sara.

Although

Angela's attorney d i d

r e p r e s e n t Drees, the a t t o r n e y charged Drees f o r her time spent in an relaying that information. effort On November 30, and 2007, S a r a , in

to i n t i m i d a t e , harass,

s i l e n c e Drees,

"abused

t h e j u d i c i a l s y s t e m " by f i l i n g

a n o n p a r t y motion f o r contempt case d e s p i t e knowing t h a t as Drees a s s e r t s ,

a g a i n s t Drees i n the Turner custody D r e e s was not

a p a r t y t o t h a t a c t i o n and, no jurisdiction over

t h a t t h a t c o u r t had

Drees.

12

2080742 "On r e v i e w o f a j u d g m e n t o f d i s m i s s a l , the judgment i s not e n t i t l e d to a presumption of c o r r e c t n e s s . A l l e n v. Johnny B a k e r H a u l i n g , I n c . , 545 So. 2d 771, 772 ( A l a . C i v . App. 1989) . The appropriate s t a n d a r d of r e v i e w i s whether the p l a i n t i f f c o u l d p r o v e any s e t o f c i r c u m s t a n c e s t h a t would entitle the plaintiff to relief. Rule 1 2 ( b ) ( 6 ) , A l a . R. C i v . P.; R a l e y v. C i t i b a n c o f A l a b a m a / A n d a l u s i a , 474 So. 2d 640, 641 ( A l a . 1 9 8 5 ) ; H i l l v. F a l l e t t a , 589 So. 2d 746 ( A l a . C i v . App. 1991). In r e v i e w i n g a d i s m i s s a l , t h i s C o u r t does not c o n s i d e r whether the p l a i n t i f f will ultimately p r e v a i l , b u t o n l y w h e t h e r t h e p l a i n t i f f may p o s s i b l y p r e v a i l . F o n t e n o t v. B r a m l e t t , 470 So. 2d 669, 671 ( A l a . 1 9 8 5 ) ; R i c e v. U n i t e d I n s . Co. o f A m e r i c a , 465 So. 2d 1100, 1101 ( A l a . 1 9 8 4 ) . A d i s m i s s a l i s p r o p e r o n l y when i t a p p e a r s b e y o n d d o u b t t h a t t h e p l a i n t i f f can p r o v e no s e t o f f a c t s i n s u p p o r t o f t h e c l a i m t h a t would e n t i t l e the p l a i n t i f f t o r e l i e f . G a r r e t t v. Hadden, 495 So. 2d 616, 617 ( A l a . 1 9 8 6 ) ; H i l l v. K r a f t , I n c . , 496 So. 2d 768, 769 ( A l a . 1 9 8 6 ) . A d i s m i s s a l i s d i f f e r e n t f r o m a summary j u d g m e n t , and more d i f f i c u l t t o o b t a i n t h a n a summary j u d g m e n t . To g e t a summary j u d g m e n t , t h e movant must show t h a t t h e r e i s no g e n u i n e i s s u e o f m a t e r i a l f a c t and t h a t t h e movant i s e n t i t l e d t o a j u d g m e n t as a m a t t e r o f law. R u l e 5 6 ( c ) , A l a . R. C i v . P.; B u s s e y v. J o h n Deere Co., 531 So. 2d 860 ( A l a . 1 9 8 8 ) . " G r e e n v. N e m i s h , 652 So. 2d 243, 244 ( A l a . 1994). Further,

"'[t]he well-understood position of an a p p e l l a t e court reviewing the grant of a motion to dismiss is, taking the a l l e g a t i o n s o f t h e c o m p l a i n t most s t r o n g l y in favor of the p l e a d e r , to determine w h e t h e r t h e p l a i n t i f f c o u l d p r o v e any s e t of f a c t s i n s u p p o r t of h i s c l a i m which w o u l d e n t i t l e h i m t o r e l i e f . R u l e 12, [ A l a . R. C i v . P . ] , and commentary.'

13

2080742 " J o n e s v. Lee C o u n t y C o m m i s s i o n , ( A l a . 1981) ( e m p h a s i s a d d e d ) . " 394 So. 2d 928, ( A l a . C i v . App. 930 1997) .

H o l w a y v. Wanschek, 690 So. 2d 429, 431

C o n s t r u i n g t h e a l l e g a t i o n s i n t h e o r i g i n a l c o m p l a i n t and t h e amended c o m p l a i n t most s t r o n g l y i n f a v o r o f D r e e s , we t h a t D r e e s p r e m i s e s h i s a c t i o n a g a i n s t t h e d e f e n d a n t s on the d e f e n d a n t s ' h a v i n g c o n t a c t e d h i s former w i f e and/or attorney Drees Turner i n order c o u l d be to gather detrimental information petition find (1) her about i n the having case on

that

used

t o advance K i l e ' s (2) Kile's i n the and Turner

custody to

case, the

Vincent's custody

misrepresented

judge

m u l t i p l e o c c a s i o n s t h a t Drees had been c o n v i c t e d of d o m e s t i c violence children, a g a i n s t h i s f o r m e r w i f e and a g a i n s t one of Drees's

(3) K i l e ' s and V i n c e n t ' s h a v i n g c o n v i n c e d t h e j u d g e

i n the Turner custody case t o i n c l u d e a f i n d i n g i n i t s f i n a l judgment t h a t Drees had been c o n v i c t e d o f d o m e s t i c as t h e y h a d m i s r e p r e s e n t e d t o t h e c o u r t , having disseminated public violence,

(4) t h e d e f e n d a n t s ' "community" (5) S a r a ' s Drees former Sara's

documents t o Drees's

c o n t a i n i n g K i l e ' s and V i n c e n t ' s m i s r e p r e s e n t a t i o n s ,

h a v i n g made s t a t e m e n t s o u t s i d e j u d i c i a l p r o c e e d i n g s t h a t had wife been and convicted of domestic of violence against his and (5)

a g a i n s t one

Drees's

14

children,

2080742 h a v i n g f i l e d a n o n p a r t y contempt motion a g a i n s t Turner custody The t r i a l case. court dismissed the action. arose The t r i a l from court Drees i n t h e

r e a s o n e d t h a t most o f D r e e s ' s c l a i m s privileged" proceedings. 1986). occurring statements made

"absolutely judicial (Ala.

i n conjunction

with

See W a l k e r

v. M a j o r s , based

496 So. 2d 726

As t o those outside

claims

on c o n d u c t

or statements court

the j u d i c i a l

proceedings,

the t r i a l

c o n c l u d e d t h a t Drees had f a i l e d t o a l l e g e s u f f i c i e n t f a c t s t o state actionable or the claims tort of invasion of of privacy, abuse o f

process, infliction Hosp.

outrageous

conduct/intentional v. E n t e r p r i s e ( A l a . 1987) of

of emotional d i s t r e s s . Home, a claim

See A r c h i e

& Nursing that

508 So. 2d 693, 694-95 alleging

(holding emotional

intentional infliction a l l e g i n g outrageous

d i s t r e s s and a c l a i m

conduct

a c t u a l l y s t a t e t h e same c a u s e o f a c t i o n ) . In h i s "statement o f i s s u e s , " contained appellate brief, Drees l i s t s i nhis principal issues:

the f o l l o w i n g four

"1. Does judicial proceeding immunity protect l a w y e r s a n d t h e i r c l i e n t s who l i e i n c o u r t a n d m a n u f a c t u r e f a l s e e v i d e n c e so as t o w i n t h e i r c a s e s ? "2. Does f a l s e l y c o n v i c t i n g someone o f a f e l o n y c r i m e t h a t he h a s n e v e r c o m m i t t e d a n d f i l i n g a

15

2080742 c o n t e m p t a c t i o n a g a i n s t him when he s e e k s t o c o r r e c t s a i d f a l s e c o n v i c t i o n c o n s t i t u t e abuse o f p r o c e s s and i n v a s i o n o f p r i v a c y s u f f i c i e n t t o a w a r d damages? "3. Does t h e i n t e n t i o n a l a c t o f d i s s e m i n a t i n g f a l s e information regarding a person to t h i r d p a r t i e s o u t s i d e of a c o u r t p r o c e e d i n g c o n s t i t u t e p o r t r a y i n g that person i n a f a l s e l i g h t ? "4. Do t h e i n t e n t i o n a l a c t s o f i n t e r f e r i n g w i t h a nonparty to include contacting t h e i r ex-spouse, contacting their children's school personnel, i n v a d i n g t h e i r p r i v a t e f i n a n c e s and t h e i r p l a c e o f employment sufficient [sic] to constitute i n t e n t i o n a l i n f l i c t i o n o f e m o t i o n a l d i s t r e s s as w e l l as t h e t o r t o f o u t r a g e when c o m m i t t e d by three licensed attorneys?" However, privilege liability the judge Drees does actually not argues Kile only and that Vincent the absolute civil to

shield

from

f o r i n t e n t i o n a l l y and m a l i c i o u s l y m i s r e p r e s e n t i n g in the Turner custody case that Drees had

been

c o n v i c t e d o f d o m e s t i c v i o l e n c e and u s i n g her a

does n o t p r o t e c t S a r a f o r filing the

s u p e r i o r l e g a l k n o w l e d g e t o h a r a s s D r e e s by court

f r i v o l o u s contempt motion i n the custody case. Drees

p r e s i d i n g over that the

Turner

does not

argue

trial

c o u r t e r r e d i n d i s m i s s i n g any allegedly Turner Turner contacting case,

c l a i m s b a s e d on t h e

defendants' for in the the

h i s former w i f e

in preparation the judge

custody

allegedly convincing case to include

custody

their

alleged

16

2080742 misrepresentations disseminating parties conclude court discuss Harwood, court w i l l presented We those in his final judgment, and allegedly to third we

alleged

misrepresentations Sara's statements. any argument t h a t claims, and we

t h r o u g h d o c u m e n t s and that D r e e s has in

Hence, the will

waived

trial not v.

erred

dismissing

those See

those claims 999 So. 2d

further. 912, 923

Rogers & W i l l a r d , Inc. App. 2007)

(Ala. Civ.

("This

n o t c o n s i d e r on a p p e a l i s s u e s t h a t a r e n o t and argued i n b r i e f . " ) .

properly

r e j e c t D r e e s ' s argument t h a t the t r i a l the claim against Drees. Sara arising out

court erred i n her filing a

dismissing

contempt motion a g a i n s t as a l i c e n s e d and

Drees argues o n l y t h a t should not be

Sara, immune

p r a c t i c i n g attorney,

from s u i t f o r f i l i n g o r h a r a s s him. c l a i m b a s e d on

a pleading designed s o l e l y to i n t i m i d a t e c o u r t d i d not d i s m i s s the t r i a l court that

However, t h e t r i a l immunity. Instead,

dismissed

t h a t c l a i m because i t determined t h a t the f a c t u a l a l l e g a t i o n s contained process. i n t h e amended c o m p l a i n t See Preskitt v. Lyons, d i d n o t amount t o abuse o f 865 So. 2d 424, 430 (Ala. of

2003) ("This C o u r t has h e l d t h a t i n o r d e r t o p r o v e t h e t o r t abuse o f p r o c e s s , a p l a i n t i f f must p r o v e : '"(1) the

existence

17

2080742 o f an u l t e r i o r p u r p o s e ; 2) a w r o n g f u l u s e o f p r o c e s s , malice."'" (Ala. So. (quoting Willis v. P a r k e r , a n d 3)

814 So. 2d 857, 865

2001), q u o t i n g 2d 947, 950

i n t u r n C.C. & J . , I n c . v . Hagood, 711 On a p p e a l , Drees makes no

(Ala. 1998))).

a r g u m e n t t h a t t h e t r i a l c o u r t e r r e d i n t h a t r e s p e c t o r t h a t he a c t u a l l y p l e a d e d s u f f i c i e n t f a c t s t o s t a t e a c l a i m o f abuse o f process. construed The arising made D r e e s a l s o makes no argument t h a t t h e c l a i m c o u l d be so as t o s t a t e a n y o t h e r c o g n i z a b l e trial court also cause o f a c t i o n . those claims

c o r r e c t l y dismissed alleged custody

out K i l e ' s

and V i n c e n t ' s of the Turner

misrepresentations case. Pertinent

i n the course made

statements

i n the course

of j u d i c i a l

proceedings are

a b s o l u t e l y p r i v i l e g e d . O ' B a r r v . F e i s t , 292 A l a . 440, 445-46, 296 So. 2d 152, 156-57 (1974). In t h i s case, the statements

imputed t o K i l e and V i n c e n t a child-custody proceeding,

a l l concern a matter p e r t i n e n t t o namely, t h e c o n v i c t i o n o f d o m e s t i c See A l a . Code 1975, § 30¬

v i o l e n c e by a p o t e n t i a l c u s t o d i a n . 3-131 best

(creating rebuttable presumption that i t i s against the interests of a child t o be placed into custody of

perpetrator

of domestic

violence).

Absolutely

privileged

s t a t e m e n t s , no m a t t e r how f a l s e o r m a l i c i o u s ,

c a n n o t be made

18

2080742 the So. basis of c i v i l liability. O ' B a r r , 292 A l a . a t 445, 296

2d a t 156; s e e a l s o W a l k e r v. M a j o r s , 496 So. 2d 726 ( A l a . That r u l e a p p l i e s e q u a l l y t o c l a i m s other than those

1986).

b a s e d on d e f a m a t i o n . 1, 12-13 ( A l a . 2003) extends

See B u t l e r v. Town o f A r g o , 871 So. 2d (holding that absolute legislative see a l s o

privilege O'Barr,

to invasion-of-privacy

claims);

292 A l a .

a t 445, 296 So. 2d a t 156 communication"

( d e f i n i n g "an of

absolutely privileged

a s "'one i n r e s p e c t

which, by reason o f t h e o c c a s i o n reference civil p. t o which,

on w h i c h , o r t h e m a t t e r i n

i t i s made, no remedy c a n be h a d i n a 50 Am. J u r . 2d L i b e l & S l a n d e r § 193, Even assuming, as Drees has

action'"

(quoting

696)

(emphasis that Kile that

added)).

alleged,

and V i n c e n t Drees

willfully

and m a l i c i o u s l y of light domestic and t o case,

misrepresented violence improperly

had been Drees

convicted

i n order

to place

i n a false

i n f l u e n c e t h e outcome o f t h e T u r n e r c u s t o d y c i v i l damages a g a i n s t them. any claim upon which

Drees cannot r e c o v e r has failed

Hence, D r e e s c a n be

to state

relief

granted. In h i s b r i e f t o t h i s c o u r t , Drees b a s i c a l l y argues t h a t , by applying the absolute privilege t o statements made i n

19

2080742 judicial proceedings, the law fosters perjury in and rewards the

manipulative privilege, our

litigants.

However,

formulating that

supreme c o u r t has

recognized

" ' [ t ] h e p r i v i l e g e i s a m a t t e r o f p u b l i c p o l i c y , and i s n o t i n t e n d e d so much f o r t h e p r o t e c t i o n o f t h o s e e n g a g e d i n t h e p u b l i c s e r v i c e and i n t h e e n a c t m e n t and a d m i n i s t r a t i o n o f l a w , as f o r t h e p r o m o t i o n o f t h e p u b l i c w e l f a r e , t h e p u r p o s e b e i n g t h a t members of the legislature, judges of courts, jurors, l a w y e r s , and w i t n e s s e s may s p e a k t h e i r m i n d s f r e e l y and exercise their respective functions without i n c u r r i n g t h e r i s k o f a c r i m i n a l p r o s e c u t i o n o r an a c t i o n f o r t h e r e c o v e r y o f damages.'" O'Barr, Jur. 2d 292 Ala. at 445, 296 § So. 193, 2d p. at 156 696). (quoting It 50 Am. be be and

Libel

and

Slander

cannot not

discounted

t h a t p e r j u r y and the law

f a b r i c a t e d evidence should that the those e v i l s l e g a l system them out as Dep't

encouraged, but should and be

holds and

"'"'can

exposed at t r i a l , litigants to

encourages early of as

expects

root

possible....'"'" Res11 v. Hall, So. 587

E.S.R. v. 236 1198, v. in

Madison

County

Human Hall turn (11th v. &

3d 227, So. 2d

( A l a . C i v . App. 1201

2008)

(quoting in

( A l a . 1991), q u o t i n g 761 Great F.2d 1549, 1552

Travelers Cir.

I n d e m n i t y Co. quoting Bhd. of

Gore, turn

1985),

Coastal

Express

International Helpers of

Teamsters, Chauffeurs, 675 F.2d

20

Warehousemen Cir.

America,

1349,

1357

(4th

1982)).

2080742 Irrespective that, rest of Drees's law, arguments, a claim the simple fact remains not

under Alabama on pertinent

for c i v i l

damages may

s t a t e m e n t s made i n t h e

course of

judicial

proceedings. Drees a l s o shield a party or argues t h a t from the absolute privilege for does not

criminal

responsibility We need not seeking

perjured that the

testimony argument. defendants or

f a b r i c a t e d evidence. Drees i s not a

address to hold

prosecutor

c r i m i n a l l y responsible to

for their

alleged he is a

perjury private and

criminal conspiracy

commit p e r j u r y ;

i n d i v i d u a l seeking malicious

c i v i l damages b a s e d on a l l e g e d l y f a l s e context of a

s t a t e m e n t s made i n t h e

child-custody

c a s e , w h i c h A l a b a m a l a w does n o t a l l o w . v e i n are t o t a l l y u n a v a i l i n g .

H i s arguments i n t h i s

D r e e s f i n a l l y a r g u e s t h a t K i l e and V i n c e n t , to be licensed attorneys, cannot be immune

both a l l e g e d from civil

liability the

f o r a l l e g e d l y l y i n g u n d e r o a t h and In support of that argument,

misrepresenting Drees relies

evidence.

p r i m a r i l y upon t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s Supreme C o u r t ' s s t a t e m e n t i n Scheuer v.Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232 (1974), U.S. overruled 800 (1982), on other

g r o u n d s , H a r l o w v.

F i t z g e r a l d , 457

that,

21

2080742 "when a s t a t e o f f i c e r a c t s u n d e r a s t a t e l a w i n a manner v i o l a t i v e o f t h e F e d e r a l C o n s t i t u t i o n , he "'comes i n t o c o n f l i c t w i t h t h e s u p e r i o r a u t h o r i t y o f t h a t C o n s t i t u t i o n , and he i s i n t h a t case s t r i p p e d of h i s o f f i c i a l or r e p r e s e n t a t i v e c h a r a c t e r and i s s u b j e c t e d i n h i s person t o the consequences of h i s i n d i v i d u a l c o n d u c t . The S t a t e has no power to impart to him any immunity from r e s p o n s i b i l i t y t o t h e supreme a u t h o r i t y o f the U n i t e d S t a t e s . ' " 416 U.S. a t 237 Drees ( q u o t i n g Ex p a r t e Young, 209 essentially as argues officers evidence outside by U.S. 123, on 159-60

(1908)). licensed

t h a t , based of so the the as to

Scheuer, who a the that

attorneys,

court, deprive

intentionally litigant absolute of due

misrepresent process fall

p r o t e c t i o n of We or note

privilege raise

recognized

state

law.

Drees d i d not motions to

i n h i s responses to K i l e ' s any to argument t h a t such an the

Vincent's judicial will not 612

dismiss

absolute so we

privilege

i s subject

exception,

address that contention, So. 2d 409, 410 (Ala.

see Andrews v. M e r r i t t O i l Co., 1992) first ("This time Court on cannot

consider our

arguments review by the

r a i s e d f o r the

appeal;

rather,

i s r e s t r i c t e d t o t h e e v i d e n c e and a r g u m e n t s trial to court."), except Alabama

22

considered i t appears Alabama

to

state see

that

contrary

longstanding

law,

Adams v.

2080742 Lime & Stone Corp., 225 Ala. 174, 142 So. 424 (1932) during

(recognizing that false the so course long as

s t a t e m e n t s u t t e r e d by

counsel

of j u d i c i a l proceedings they Hicks, are 38 relevant Ala. 279 to

are a b s o l u t e l y p r i v i l e g e d the subject and the § 586 inquiry), law of and other ("An

Lawson v. states. See

(1862),

Restatement

(Second) o f T o r t s

(1977)

a t t o r n e y a t law i s a b s o l u t e l y p r i v i l e g e d t o p u b l i s h d e f a m a t o r y matter concerning proposed judicial course another i n communications p r e l i m i n a r y to a proceeding, and or i n the institution of, or in to

d u r i n g the

as a p a r t o f , a j u d i c i a l p r o c e e d i n g i f i t has some r e l a t i o n

w h i c h he p a r t i c i p a t e s as c o u n s e l , the proceeding."). D r e e s has failed to present

this

court

with

any

sound we

reasons f o r h o l d i n g the t r i a l

court i n error.

Therefore,

a f f i r m the judgment of the t r i a l The

c o u r t d i s m i s s i n g the

action. i n the

a p p e l l e e s a r e a w a r d e d a t t o r n e y f e e s on a p p e a l

amount o f $1,000 e a c h . APPLICATION OVERRULED; OPINION OF DECEMBER 18, 2009,

WITHDRAWN; OPINION SUBSTITUTED; AFFIRMED. Pittman and Thomas, J J . , c o n c u r . concurs specially. r e s u l t , without writing.

Thompson, P . J . ,

Bryan, J . , concurs i n the

23

2080742 THOMPSON, P r e s i d i n g J u d g e , c o n c u r r i n g I n t h e amended c o m p l a i n t plaintiff, alleged, specially.

i n t h i s a c t i o n , Hajo Drees, t h e things, that attorney Sara

among o t h e r

T u r n e r h a d i m p r o p e r l y made u n t r u e proceedings to the effect that

statements outside Drees had been

judicial

convicted of

d o m e s t i c v i o l e n c e a g a i n s t h i s f o r m e r w i f e a n d a g a i n s t one o f his children. as Although says, such an a claim may be actionable from

because, liability

Drees

attorney

i s n o t immune outside

for certain

statements

made

judicial dismissed

proceedings,

a n d t h u s t h e c l a i m s h o u l d n o t have b e e n

on t h e p l e a d i n g s , D r e e s d i d n o t a r g u e on a p p e a l t h a t t h e t r i a l court had e r r e d i n d i s m i s s i n g t h a t c l a i m . court h a s no a l t e r n a t i v e b u t t o a f f i r m Accordingly, the t r i a l this

court's

d i s m i s s a l of the complaint

i n i t s entirety.

24

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