PETITION DENIED. NO OPINION.
MOORE, C.J., and STUART, BOLIN, PARKER, MURDOCK, SHAW, MAIN, and WISE, JJ., concur.
BRYAN, J., concurs specially.
BRYAN, Justice (concurring specially).
I agree that Wesley Person's petition for a writ of mandamus is due to be denied, but I write specially to offer guidance to the bench and bar regarding what claims may be raised in the circuit court after a case is appealed from the district court to the circuit court for a trial de novo.
In this case, the district court entered a judgment in favor of George Thagard in the amount of $10,000 plus costs on Thagard's claim that Person had caused a fire to come onto Thagard's property and that Thagard's property was damaged as a result. Person appealed to the circuit court for a trial de novo, and Thagard was
Person filed a motion to strike Thagard's amended complaint, arguing that, in addition to seeking additional compensatory damages, which Person conceded was proper pursuant to Rule 13(j), Ala. R. Civ. P., Thagard improperly added several fictitiously named defendants, a claim alleging that Thagard was vicariously liable for the actions of those fictitiously named defendants, and a claim for punitive damages. The circuit court denied Person's motion to strike, and Person has petitioned this Court for mandamus relief.
Person has asked this Court to issue a writ of mandamus ordering the circuit court to strike Thagard's amended complaint. He relies on this Court's decision in Vinyard v. Republic Iron & Steel Co., 205 Ala. 269, 87 So. 552 (1921), in which this Court held that, in an appeal to the circuit court for a trial de novo:
205 Ala. at 272, 87 So. at 555 (internal citations omitted).
Our decision in Vinyard predates the adoption of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 15(a), Ala. R. Civ. P., provides:
Rule 15(b), Ala. R. Civ. P., provides that "[a]n amendment shall not be refused under subdivision (a) ... of this rule solely because it adds a claim or defense, changes a claim or defense, or works a complete change in parties."
Person argues that Rule 15 does not apply in a trial de novo in the circuit court after an appeal from the district court because Thagard's complaint in the circuit court is not a "new filing." However, the definition of "trial de novo" belies Person's argument. In Ball v. Jones, 272 Ala. 305, 132 So.2d 120 (1961), this Court stated:
272 Ala. at 309, 132 So.2d at 122. In City of Gadsden v. Harbin, 398 So.2d 707, 709 (Ala.Civ.App.1981), the Court of Civil Appeals stated that "[a] trial de novo is a new trial in which the whole case is gone into as if no prior proceeding had occurred." In addition, Black's Law Dictionary defines "trial de novo" as "[a] new trial on the entire case — that is, on both questions of fact and issues of law — conducted as if there had been no trial in the first instance." Black's Law Dictionary 1645 (9th ed. 2009).
In Holcomb v. Morris, 457 So.2d 973 (Ala.Civ.App.1984), the Court of Civil Appeals considered the propriety of an order allowing the pleadings to be amended to conform to the evidence presented at trial after an appeal to the circuit court. In that case, the district court ruled in favor of the defendants on the plaintiff's unlawful-detainer action. The plaintiff appealed to the circuit court for a trial de novo and amended his complaint before trial to include a count in ejectment. At the close of the plaintiff's evidence, the circuit court allowed the plaintiff to amend his complaint to add an additional plaintiff and to seek additional relief in the form of a declaratory judgment to quiet title. The circuit court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, and the defendants appealed and argued, citing Vinyard, supra, that the second amendment was impermissible because it worked to change the entire cause of action.
In affirming the circuit court's judgment, the Court of Civil Appeals stated:
Holcomb, 457 So.2d at 975-76.
Although Thagard's amended complaint asserts claims against additional defendants and alleges additional theories for relief, the amended complaint involves the same parties and the same facts and arises from the same transaction as the original complaint filed in the district court. Furthermore, "[a]ll the counts in the [amended] complaint are asserted for the same ultimate purpose," i.e., to allow Thagard to recover for damage caused when a fire on Person's property came onto Thagard's property. Holcomb, 457 So.2d at 976. In light of the definition of "trial de novo," the above-quoted provisions of Rule 15, and the cases cited above, Person has failed to show that he has a clear legal right to an order from this Court requiring the circuit court to strike Thagard's amended complaint. See Ex parte Monsanto Co., 862 So.2d 595, 604 (Ala.2003) (noting that "`[a] writ of mandamus is an extraordinary remedy [that] "will be issued only when there is[, among other things,] a clear legal right in the petitioner to the order sought"'" (quoting Ex parte Butts, 775 So.2d 173, 176 (Ala.2000))).
Hayes v. Payne, 523 So.2d 333, 334 (Ala. 1987). Person has not alleged that trial on the issues raised in Thagard's amended complaint will unduly delay trial or that he has been unduly prejudiced by the amended complaint.