Alabama: Expedited Civil Action Program

In 2012 the Alabama legislature passed SB 47 (Act 2012-492), which says that the Alabama Supreme Court shall adopt guidelines to promote the “prompt, efficient, and cost-effective resolution of civil actions” in circuit court in which the amount in controversy does not exceed $50,000. The guidelines shall also “address the need for lowering discovery costs in these actions and the procedure for ensuring that these actions will be expedited in the civil justice system.” The guidelines will not conflict with current law or procedures in domestic relation and family law, property law, or tax cases.

The Alabama Supreme Court has adopted rules of procedure for expedited civil actions under certain circumstances. The rules apply to civil cases in circuit court where the plaintiff(s) elect assignment to an expedited track, with some case type exceptions. Defendants have the opportunity to request opt out, whereupon the court will grant permission upon good cause shown. Parties may also jointly agree to opt into or out of the procedure. The proposed rules limit recovery to no more than $50,000, including interest, attorney’s fees, and other charges, and provide for a shortened pretrial process and an expedited trial of three hours per party.

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