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LLC v. Barth

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

December 11, 2019

JAVA'S MOTORCYLE REPAIR, LLC APPELLANT
v.
GARY BARTH APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM THE GARLAND COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 26CV-18-1288] HONORABLE LYNN WILLIAMS, JUDGE

          The Applegate Firm, PLLC, by: Ryan J. Applegate, for appellant.

          Jonathan D. Jones, for appellee.

          RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, JUDGE.

         Java's Motorcycle Repair, LLC (Java), appeals the Garland County Circuit Court order dismissing its appeal of the judgment entered in favor of Gary Barth by the Garland County District Court. On appeal, Java argues that the circuit court erred in finding that it untimely appealed the judgment. We agree and reverse and remand.

         On December 4, 2017, Barth filed a complaint against Java in the Garland County District Court alleging that Java had negligently repaired his motorcycle. On April 27, 2018, the district court held a trial and took the matter under advisement.

         On June 28, the district court sent an email to the parties. The email states in part as follows:

Based upon the pleadings, testimony, and other evidence presented, I find that Plaintiff Gary Barth is entitled to judgment in his favor and an award of damages in the amount $3, 310.99, plus court costs.

         The email was not filed in the district court docket. On June 29, the following entry was made in the district court docket:

CLERK NOTE - PER EMAIL FROM JUDGE SWITZER - DECISION IN FAVOR OF PLAINTIFF - ATTY JONES TO PREPARE PRECEDENT FOR JUDGE TO SIGN

         On August 1, the district court entered a written judgment against Java on the docket and awarded Barth $3, 310 and court costs. On August 10, Java filed a notice of appeal in the district court, and on August 17, Java filed a certified copy of the district court docket sheet with the circuit court clerk.

         On September 14, Barth filed a motion to dismiss the appeal in the circuit court and asserted that Java had untimely appealed to circuit court. Specifically, Barth argued that Java had filed its appeal more than thirty days after the June 29 docket entry awarding judgment to Barth. Java responded that its appeal time did not begin to run on June 29 because the judgment amount was not docketed on that date. On October 8, the circuit court granted Barth's motion and dismissed Java's appeal. Java appealed the dismissal to this court.

         On appeal, Java argues that the circuit court erred by dismissing its appeal from the district court because it timely perfected the appeal in the circuit court pursuant to Arkansas District Court Rule 9. Specifically, Java asserts that its appeal time did not begin on June 29 because the docket entry did not state the judgment amount. In response, Barth recognizes that the June 29 docket entry did not specifically state the judgment amount, but he points out that the entry references the district court's email, and the email specifically stated the judgment amount of $3, 310.99[1] plus court costs. He asks us to apply the incorporation-by-reference doctrine as set forth in Slaton v. Slaton, 336 Ark. 211, 983 S.W.2d 951 (1999), and hold that the June 29 entry initiated Java's appeal time.

         Because the circuit court considered matters outside the pleadings, we treat this case as a grant of summary judgment. Circle D Contractors, Inc. v. Bartlett, 2013 Ark. 131. When we review summary-judgment cases in which factual issues do not exist, we simply determine whether the prevailing party was ...


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