Shackelford v. Arkansas Power & Light Co

In Shackelford v. Arkansas Power & Light Co., 334 Ark. 634, 976 S.W.2d 950 (1998), the appellant filed a wrongful death and survival action against Carrick and Pat Patterson, John Doe 1 and John Doe 2, and the appellee, Arkansas Power & Light Company (AP&L). The trial court granted the appellant's motion to dismiss against the Pattersons, and on that same day, the appellant filed a second amended and substituted complaint, which listed AP&L as the only defendant. At the hearing on AP&L's motion for summary judgment, the appellant assured the trial court that AP&L was the only remaining defendant. The trial court awarded AP&L summary judgment, and although the caption of the summary judgment listed AP&L, the Pattersons, and John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 as the defendants, the last sentence of the order declared that "'the Motion for Summary Judgment of defendant, Arkansas Power & Light Company, Inc., is hereby granted and plaintiff's cause of action against said defendant is hereby dismissed in its entirety with prejudice.'" Id. at 635, 976 S.W.2d at 951. The appellant appealed the award of summary judgment to AP&L, but her appeal was dismissed by the supreme court because it found that the appellant's claims against John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 were still pending. The court held: "In the case before us today, it is clear that the trial court has not entered a final order as to the two John Doe defendants. Pursuant to Ark. R. Civ. P. 41(a), a plaintiff may file a motion requesting a voluntary dismissal (or nonsuit) of a claim or claims against one or all of the defendants. As mentioned above, Ms. Shackelford filed such a motion as to the Pattersons, and the trial court entered an order of dismissal as to the Pattersons only on October 6, 1997. Ms. Shackelford, however, did not file a motion for a voluntary dismissal (or nonsuit) as to John Doe 1 and 2. Even if we assume that Ms. Shackelford's second amended and substituted complaint was in the nature of a motion to dismiss her claims against John Doe 1 and 2, there is no order in the record granting such a dismissal against these two defendants. In Blaylock v. Shearson Lehman Bros., Inc., 330 Ark. 620, 954 S.W.2d 939 (1997), we recently held that the mere filing of a motion to dismiss is insufficient to conclude the action. Instead, the claim against the defendant remains until the trial court enters an order of dismissal. Id. Stated differently, an order of dismissal (or nonsuit) does not become effective until it is entered. Id.; see also Standridge v. Standridge, 298 Ark. 494, 769 S.W.2d 12 (1989)." (Shackelford v. Arkansas Power & Light, 334 Ark. at 636, 976 S.W.2d 951-52.)