A recent Alabama Court of Civil Appeals decision discussed what happens when a buyer under a Bond for Title defaults, and the seller wants to get them out of the property. It was the case of Alexander v. Hawk, decided on August 9th, 2013. Hawk sued the Alexanders and won. The Alexanders appealed. Because they appealed, their name is first. Hawk sold to the Alexanders on a bond for title with monthly payments and a balloon in five years. The contract said that if the Alexanders defaulted, the relationship would change to landlord/tenant and all payments would be forfeited. The Alexanders defaulted. Hawk filed an unlawful detainer suit in District Court. The District Judge said it was the wrong court, and transferred the case to Circuit Court. Hawk amended his complaint to add a count for ejectment and breach of contract, but failed to pay the additional filing fee. The court ordered the Alexanders out of the property, and gave Hawk slightly over $8,000 in damages. The Alexanders appealed. The Court of Civil Appeals vacated the judgment in favor of Hawk, and dismissed the appeal. They said:
- The original lawsuit was in fact properly filed in District Court. The judge was wrong to transfer it to Circuit Court. The Circuit Court did not have jurisdiction to hear an unlawful detainer claim unless it was an appeal, so that portion of the judgment in favor of Hawk was void.
- When Hawk amended his complaint to add breach of contract and ejectment claims, he failed to pay the additional filing fee required. As a result, those claims were not properly before the Circuit Court, and it could not enter judgment on them.
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