FROM THE GARLAND COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 26DR-07-1156]
HONORABLE F. RUSSELL ROGERS, SPECIAL JUDGE
Richard E. Worsham, for appellant.
Law Group, by: Bryan J. Reis, Michelle Strause, and Philip B.
Montgomery, for appellee.
KENNETH S. HIXSON, JUDGE
an appeal from a divorce between Vicky Bass Haynes and Benton
Ned Bass that has been pending since 2007. In this appeal,
Vicky challenges several of the circuit court rulings.
Additionally, we are called to address two motions Ned filed
with our court-a motion to dismiss based on lack of finality
and a motion for attorney's fees based on Vicky's
alleged failure to comply with our briefing rules. Because we
have determined that Ned's motion to dismiss must be
granted, we dismiss this appeal without prejudice and deny
the motion for attorney's fees.
case began on December 26, 2007, when Vicky filed a complaint
for divorce against Ned. The divorce was highly contested,
and for various reasons, a trial on the merits of the divorce
was not held until September 2013.
circuit court entered a decree of divorce on January 24,
2014. The decree contained detailed findings on many of the
contested issues in the divorce including, but not limited
to, the disposition of some marital property and the division
of some marital debt. Importantly, one of the provisions in
the decree required Vicky to reimburse Ned for one-half of
the debt service and related expenses he had paid on the
marital property during the lengthy pendency of the divorce.
Because the amount of the debt service and related expenses
paid by Ned, and therefore the amount of reimbursement owed
by Vicky, was complicated and disputed, the circuit court
appointed CPA Marla Lammers in another provision of the
divorce decree as a receiver to determine and verify these
amounts. Specifically, paragraph 7 of the decree orders CPA
Lammers to prepare and submit a report to the court "to
accurately establish the debt service, insurance, taxes and
maintenance paid by the defendant while this divorce has been
pending[.] . . . The court shall receive and approve the
report of the receiver, whereupon the defendant shall receive
reimbursement for one half[.]" However, before CPA
Lammers submitted her report, Vicky filed a notice of appeal.
Our court subsequently dismissed the appeal without prejudice
in February 2015, due to lack of a final order.
the case was remanded to the circuit court, CPA Lammers
compiled her report and submitted it to the court on May 20,
2015. On June 16, 2015, the circuit court distributed copies
of CPA Lammers's report to the parties and instructed
them that they had ten days to submit any objections. Vicky
disagreed with CPA Lammers's report, and on June 26,
2015, Vicky filed an objection. On August 12, 2015, Vicky
filed a motion for new trial or, in the alternative, motion
to amend the court's findings of fact, seeking relief
from the divorce decree that was entered on January 24, 2014.
on January 27, 2017, the circuit court entered an order that,
inter alia, discussed the amount Vicky owed Ned for
reimbursement of the debt service and related expenses he
made on the marital property during the pendency of the
divorce. The circuit court relied heavily on CPA
Lammers's report in reaching its calculation of the
amount Vicky owed. However, despite the details contained in
CPA Lammers's report, there remained unanswered questions
concerning the amount of the marital debt, the source of the
payments, and the amount of Vicky's responsibility for
reimbursing Ned. To further assist the court in making a
final determination, the circuit court ordered CPA Lammers to
amend her report as follows:
7. The Special Master,  Marla Lammers, is hereby ordered to
amend her Report to include revenue for NV International
Investments, Inc., Winston Cup and Bass Management, Inc.
during the accounting period as shown by the tax returns and
K1's. In addition, the Special Master is hereby ordered
to amend her report to identify any instance when an expense
was paid by NV International Investments, Inc., Winston Cup
or Bass Management, Inc. with a brief explanation, including
what was paid, the amount and entity which has paid the
pending motions were also disposed of in this order
including, but not limited to, denying Vicky's motion to
strike the special master's report, motion to disqualify
the special master, and motion for new trial.
of waiting for CPA Marla Lammers to amend her report as
ordered by the court, Vicky filed another notice of appeal.
One of Vicky's arguments in her brief on appeal in
support of reversal is that the amount the circuit court
ordered her to reimburse Ned for his expenses servicing the
marital debt amounted to reversible error.
the appeal was lodged with our court, Ned filed a motion to
dismiss, arguing that our court is without jurisdiction to
decide the merits of Vicky's appeal because the circuit
court's orders are not final. He also filed a motion for
attorney's fees based on Vicky's alleged
noncompliance with Arkansas Supreme Court Rule 4-2.
begin our analysis by considering Ned's motion to dismiss
and acknowledge that this motion was originally presented to
our court for a determination at a motion conference, and our
court passed the motion to the panel. After a thorough review
of the entire record by the panel, ...