BRENDA K. CHEATHAM APPELLANT
HAROLD CHEATHAM APPELLEE
FROM THE LAFAYETTE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 37CV-17-57]
HONORABLE KIRK D. JOHNSON, JUDGE
Harrelson Law Firm, P.A., by: Steve Harrelson, for appellant.
Wilson, Walker & Short, by: Charles M. Walker, for
RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, JUDGE.
K. Cheatham appeals from the Lafayette County Circuit Court
order entered following a bench trial. On appeal, Brenda
argues that the circuit court erred by finding that (1) the
Uniform Power of Attorney Act applied to bank transfers in
which both parties are joint owners of a bank account and (2)
she used undue influence to obtain a power of attorney from
her father, Harold Cheatham. We must dismiss the appeal for
lack of a final, appealable order.
October 6, 2017, Harold filed a complaint against Brenda
alleging that she had fraudulently induced him into giving
her a power of attorney and that she had breached her
fiduciary duties owed to him by transferring $14, 267.03 from
his bank account to her personal account and by conveying his
real and personal property to herself. He further alleged that she
had entered his lockbox without his consent and removed $2,
January 29, 2018, Brenda filed a countercomplaint. She
asserted that Harold was in wrongful possession of her
personal property. She also asserted that she had
"purchased Lot 10, Norwood addition, in the township of
Stamps, Arkansas, and Kathy Tallant fraudulently gained
conveyance of this land on behalf of [Harold.]" She
further alleged that Harold had willfully and maliciously
published false information that she had defrauded him, which
had damaged her reputation and caused her humiliation. She
asked the court to convey the real property to her and to
order Harold to return her personal property, to reimburse
her for car repairs, and to reimburse her for property taxes.
She requested punitive damages and attorney's fees and
court held a bench trial on May 3, 2018, and on July 12, it
entered a judgment ordering Brenda to return all the real and
personal property identified in Harold's complaint to him
and to pay him $16, 267.03, representing the funds
transferred from his bank account and lockbox. The order
incorporated a June 12, 2018 letter opinion. Brenda appealed
the July 12 order to this court.
Rule 54(b) of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure, an order
is not final for purposes of appeal when it adjudicates fewer
than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer
than all the parties. Bulsara v. Watkins, 2010 Ark.
453; see, e.g., City of Corning v. Cochran,
350 Ark. 12, 84 S.W.3d 439 (2002) (dismissing appeal because
there was no final order when a circuit court did not rule on
a counterclaim and did not specifically rule on the
City's claim of conversion); Belcher v. Denton,
2015 Ark.App. 492 (dismissing appeal when judgment appealed
from did not dispose of punitive-damages claim and there was
"some question" whether it completely disposed of
all of the estate's and beneficiaries' claims). The
existence of a final order is a jurisdictional requirement
for bringing an appeal that this court is obliged to raise
even though the parties do not. Spurling v. Reed,
2018 Ark.App. 175.
case, the circuit court did not dispose of Brenda's
counterclaims. Specifically, the court did not rule on
Brenda's claims concerning her personal property,
Norwood lot, and defamation. There was no Rule 54(b)
certificate included with the order on appeal, and Brenda did
not abandon all pending but unresolved claims in her notice
of appeal. Because there are outstanding claims, we must
dismiss the appeal for lack of a final, appealable order.
Harrison and Vaught, JJ., agree.