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Price v. Carver

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

February 8, 2017

LOIS PRICE APPELLANT
v.
PATRICK CARVER AND DANNA CARVER APPELLEES

         APPEAL FROM THE HOT SPRING COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 30CV-15-115-2] HONORABLE EDDY EASLEY, JUDGE

         DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE

          Wallace, Martin, Duke & Russell, PLLC, by: Valerie L. Goudie, for appellant.

          Walthall Law Firm, P.A., by: Cecilia Ashcraft, for appellees.

          RITA W. GRUBER, Chief Judge

         Lois Price appeals the order of the Circuit Court of Hot Spring County that denied her petition to quiet title in a strip of land in Malvern, Arkansas, along a property line separating her lot from the lot of Patrick and Danna Carver. Ms. Price contends (1) that the circuit court's ruling was clearly erroneous because she proved her claim by adverse possession and (2) that she was denied due process because the court failed to provide a language interpreter for one of her witnesses. We dismiss the appeal for lack of a final order because the Carvers' counterclaim has not been resolved.

         In response to Ms. Price's petition, the Carvers filed an answer and counterclaim. They stated in the counterclaim that the lawsuit was baseless and that they had suffered damages by being forced to hire counsel and to expend more than $2, 000 to defend the property line. They prayed for dismissal of Ms. Price's cause of action, for judgment for "attorney's fees and costs and mental anguish experienced and expended as a result of the filing and initiation of this frivolous lawsuit, " and for an order imposing sanctions for Ms. Price's "obvious abuse of process."

         Ms. Price then filed an amended complaint. The Carvers filed a motion to dismiss her petition and an answer to her amended complaint, and Ms. Price filed a response to their motion to dismiss. At the conclusion of a hearing, the court converted the motion to dismiss to a motion for summary judgment and postponed a decision so that Ms. Price could respond to a pretrial brief the Carvers had filed the same morning. The court denied the summary-judgment motion by written order on January 26, 2016, finding that there were material issues of fact to be determined at trial.

         The case proceeded to a bench trial. In an oral ruling at the trial's conclusion, the court denied Ms. Price's petition to quiet title. The court's written judgment, entered on March 9, 2016, reads in pertinent part:

1.The property line separating the parties in this cause of action [is] as outlined on the attached surveys of Hurley C. Clinton dated August 22, 2014 and Justin Randall West dated August 23, 2015. . . .
2.The Plaintiff has failed to establish any entitlement to damages and thus her prayer for damages is denied.
3.The Plaintiff has failed to meet her burden of proof to establish the claim of any portion of the Defendants' land as required by law in the State of Arkansas. Therefore the Plaintiff's Petition is denied.
4.Both parties' request for attorneys' fees is denied.

         The question of whether an order is final and appealable is jurisdictional, and we are obligated to consider the issue on our own even if the parties do not raise it. LaRue v. Ground Zero Constr., Inc., 2014 Ark.App. 93, at 4. The requirement that an order must be final and appealable is observed to avoid piecemeal litigation. Id. at 5. See Ark. R. App. P.-Civ. 2(a)(1)(2016) (permitting an appeal from a final judgment or decree of the circuit court). An order is final if it dismisses the parties, discharges them from the action, or concludes their rights to the subject matter in controversy. Aceva Techs., LLC v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 2012 Ark.App. 382. See ...


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