JAMES TOLAND AND FIRST ARKANSAS BAIL BONDS, INC. APPELLANTS
MIKE ROBINSON, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS DISTRICT JUDGE OF SALINE COUNTY, BENTON DISTRICT; AND STEPHANIE CASADY, IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS DISTRICT JUDGE OF SALINE COUNTY, BRYANT DISTRICT APPELLEES
FROM THE SALINE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 63CV-14-631]
HONORABLE TED CAPEHEART, JUDGE, SITTING BY SPECIAL
Worsham Law Firm, P.A., by: Richard W. Worsham, for
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Mindy D. Pipkin, Sr. Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
A. WOMACK, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE
appellants, James Toland and First Arkansas Bail Bonds, Inc.,
are appealing a motion to dismiss from the Saline County
Circuit Court against the appellees, Judges Stephanie Casady
and Mike Robinson. However, we must dismiss the appeal
without prejudice because the circuit court's order is
Toland was arrested on a felony and appeared before Judge
Mike Robinson who set a $25, 000 sheriff's bond under
Rule 9.2(b)(ii) of the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure.
Someone on Tolland's behalf thereafter paid the 10
percent required under the bond. At no point did Toland
contest the bond prior to posting it and being released.
on October 14, 2014, Toland and First Arkansas Bail Bonds,
Inc., filed suit against Saline County, District Judge Mike
Robinson, and District Judge Stephanie Casady alleging five
causes of action. However, on August 28, 2015, the
appellants took a voluntary dismissal of their civil rights
claims under Ark. R. Civ. P. 41(a). Saline County filed a
separate answer on November 3, 2014; however, on October 15,
2015, the appellants took a voluntary dismissal of all their
claims against Saline County. Judges Robinson and Casady
filed a motion to dismiss alleging various affirmative
defenses, including lack of standing, waiver, judicial
immunity, and sovereign immunity. On October 15, 2015, the
circuit court granted the appellees' separate motion to
dismiss. The appellants then appealed to this court.
of a Final Order
previously stated that a final order is required for this
court to have jurisdiction on appeal. Haile v. Ark. Power
& Light Co., 322 Ark. 29, 31, 907 S.W.2d 122, 123
(1995); Wilburn v. Keenan Cos., Inc., 297 Ark. 74,
76, 759 S.W.2d 554, 555-56 (1988). The lack of a final,
appealable order from the lower court is an issue that this
court may raise sua sponte because it affects our
jurisdiction. Grand Valley Ridge, LLC v. Metro. Nat'l
Bank, 2010 Ark. 402, at 2. Rule 54(b)(1) of the Arkansas
Rules of Civil Procedure provides as follows:
When more than one claim for relief is presented in an
action, whether as a claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or
third party claim, or when multiple parties are involved, the
court may direct the entry of a final judgment as to one or
more but fewer than all of the claims or parties only upon an
express determination, supported by specific factual
findings, that there is no just reason for delay and upon an
express direction for the entry of judgment. In the event the
court so finds, it shall execute the following certificate,
which shall appear immediately after the court's
signature on the judgment, and which shall set forth the
factual findings upon which the determination to enter the
judgment as final is based . . . .
Ark. R. Civ. P. 54(b)(1) (2016). The purpose of the rule is
to avoid piecemeal appeals. Eason v.
Flannigan, 349 Ark. 1, 5, 75 S.W.3d 702, 705 (2002). Per
Rule 54, an order that fails to adjudicate all of the claims
as to all of the parties is not final for purposes of appeal.
Office of Child Support Enf't v.
Willis, 341 Ark. 378, 380, 17 S.W.3d 85, 87 (2000). In
such cases, there must be a Rule 54(b) certification from the
lower court before we may hear the merits on appeal.
Moses v. Hanna's Candle Co., 353 Ark. 101,
103-04, 110 S.W.3d 725, 726 (2003); Riley v. State Farm
Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 2011 Ark. 256, at 7, 381 S.W.3d
840, 846; Driggers v. Locke, 323 Ark. 63,
913 S.W.2d 269, 270 (1996)
Rule 41(a), a plaintiff has an absolute right to dismiss a
claim without prejudice before final submission to the
circuit court has occurred. Ark. R. Civ. P. 41(a) (2016);
Norell v. Giles, 343 Ark. 504, 506, 36
S.W.3d 342, 343 (2001). Once a voluntary nonsuit has been
obtained, the plaintiff may refile the claim within one year.
Ark. Code Ann. § 16-56-126(a) (Repl. 2005);
Norrell, 343 Ark. at 506, 36 S.W.3d at 343. However,
when a plaintiff can refile a claim it leaves an outstanding
issue that prevents a final order from being obtained.
Grand Valley Ridge, LLC, 2010 Ark. 402, at 3 (citing
Crockett v. C.A.G. Invs., Inc., 2010 Ark. 90, at 7,
361 S.W.3d 262, 266). Therefore, absent a certification per
Rule 54(b), permissive nonsuit on less than all of the claims
prevents a final order from being entered. Grand Valley
Ridge, LLC, 2010 Ark. 402, at 3; Crockett, 2010
Ark. 90, at 7-10, 361 S.W.3d at 266-68.
the circuit court entered its order granting the
defendant's motion to dismiss on October 15, 2015.
However, on August 28, 2015, the court granted the appellants
voluntary dismissal of their civil rights claims. There is no
Rule 54(b) certification from the lower court in the record
before us regarding the nonsuit as to the civil rights
claims. Therefore, there is not a final order, and we do not