Posted by: Andy Taylor | November 20, 2020

The Power of a Mandate

In Lancaster v. Rogers Construction, Inc. (Lancaster I), 2019 Ark. App. 582, the Arkansas Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal without prejudice for lack of a final order. In that case, the Plaintiffs (Mr. Lancaster and, later, Ms. Lancaster) filed suit against Rogers Construction, Inc., Roger E. Rogers, Rustan K. Rogers, and John/Jane Does 1-99 for breach of express contract, breach of implied contract, breach of implied warranty, negligence, strict (product) liability, and fraud. Through a series of motions and orders, the circuit court dismissed the breach of express contract and strict (products) liability claims against the individual defendants, and also dismissed the complaint as to the corporation. The circuit court’s disposition of the remaining claims was, as the Court of Appeals put it, “not clear,” so the Court of Appeals dismissed the plaintiff’s appeal without prejudice.

The Plaintiffs then filed a motion to dismiss their claims against the individuals and the John/Jane Doe defendants with prejudice. That motion was granted, and the following language appeared in the order:

This language might have been sufficient to resolve the finality problem, but, as the Court of Appeals pointed out in Lancaster v. Rogers Construction, Inc. (Lancaster II), 2020 Ark. App. 582, there was still a problem. As it turns out, the Court of Appeals handed down its decision in Lancaster I on December 11, 2019. The plaintiffs’ motion to dismiss was filed on December 18, and the order dismissing the claims (quoted above) was entered on December 19. The problem is that the mandate didn’t issue until January 10, 2020.

Because the order predated the mandate being issued, the Arkansas Court of Appeals held that “the circuit court’s December 19 order was entered without jurisdiction and is considered null and void.” Therefore, the court again dismissed the appeal without prejudice.

We’ll be watching for Lancaster III, and will update this post accordingly.


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