Smith v. Alabama Dry Dock & Shipbuilding Co

In Smith v. Alabama Dry Dock & Shipbuilding Co., 293 Ala. 644, 309 So. 2d 424 (1975), the Court held that there was no justiciable controversy in an action filed by a corporation seeking a declaratory judgment upholding a proposed retirement plan for certain corporate employees. The corporation named as defendants individual stockholders of the corporation who had voted against the proposed retirement plan and who were expected to contest the legality of any payments to be made under the plan. The trial court entered a summary judgment in favor of the corporation. On appeal by the defendant shareholders, this Court dismissed the appeal because there was no justiciable controversy, and, thus, the trial court lacked jurisdiction. The Court stated: "A justiciable controversy does not exist merely because a stockholder disagrees with management or votes his stock contrary to management's position. [The defendant's] statements ... refer to matters which may or may not occur in the future. The complaint itself alleges that the 'Retirement Plan will or may be contested by [the defendants].' Allegations which merely show that the plaintiff anticipates such a controversy may arise are not sufficient to invite judicial declaration of rights." (Smith, 293 Ala. at 651, 309 So. 2d at 429.)