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Lytle v. Rosemere Estates Property Owners Association

Supreme Court of Nevada

December 26, 2013

JOHN ALLEN LYTLE AND TRUDI LEE LYTLE, AS TRUSTEES OF THE LYTLE TRUST, Appellants,
v.
ROSEMERE ESTATES PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION, A NEVADA NONPROFIT CORPORATION, Respondent. JOHN ALLEN LYTLE AND TRUDI LEE LYTLE, AS TRUSTEES OF THE LYTLE TRUST, Appellants,
v.
ROSEMERE ESTATES PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION, A NEVADA NONPROFIT CORPORATION, Respondent.

Jurisdictional screening of consolidated appeals from a final judgment in an action concerning homeowners' association dues and governance (Docket No. 60657) and from a post-judgment order awarding supplemental attorney fees (Docket No. 61308). Eighth Judicial District Court, Clark County; Rob Bare, Judge.

Sterling Law, LLC, and Beau Sterling, Las Vegas, for Appellants.

Leach Johnson Song & Grucliow and Sean L. Anderson and Ryan W. Reed, Las Vegas, for Respondent.

BEFORE HARDESTY, PARRAGUIRRE and CHERRY, JJ.

OPINION

PER CURIAM:

NRCP 59(e) allows a party to move the district court to alter or amend a "judgment." The timely filing of an NRCP 59(e) motion may toll the period in which a notice of appeal from the judgment must be filed until the motion is resolved. NRAP 4(a)(4). Here, however, appellants filed a motion to alter or amend a post-judgment order awarding supplemental attorney fees. We asked the parties to address whether an NRCP 59(e) tolling motion is properly directed at a post-judgment order or whether that rule is limited to final judgments.

NRCP 54(a) defines judgment to include "any order from which an appeal lies." Based on this definition, we conclude that tolling under NRAP 4(a)(4) applies to an NRCP 59(e) motion to alter or amend directed at an appealable special order after final judgment. As a result, the notice of appeal from this order was timely filed and the appeal may proceed.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In a dispute concerning unpaid homeowners' association (HOA) dues, the district court concluded that the HOA fees were proper, dismissed appellants' claims to the contrary, and awarded respondent HOA the unpaid fees and attorney fees. Although appellants prematurely filed a notice of appeal before the district court's final judgment was entered, their appeal from that order was deemed timely and proper once the order was filed. NRAP 4(a)(6). Thus, there is no jurisdictional issue as to the appeal from the final judgment.

Meanwhile, however, respondent moved for and was awarded supplemental attorney fees for its counsel's additional services in the court below. The supplemental attorney fees award's notice of entry was served by mail on August 14, 2012. Appellants did not immediately file a notice of appeal, but instead timely filed an NRCP 59(e) motion to alter or amend the order. After the district court denied the motion to alter or amend in a written order entered on January 16, 2013, appellants filed a notice of appeal from the supplemental attorney fees award on January 30, 2013, well beyond 30 days from the supplemental attorney fees award's notice of entry. Because it was unclear whether appellants' motion to alter or amend the post-judgment order awarding supplemental attorney fees tolled the period for filing the notice of appeal, this court issued an order to show cause whether the notice of appeal was timely filed. The parties timely responded.

DISCUSSION

A notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days following service of the notice of entry of the judgment or appealable order. NRAP 4(a)(1). An additional 3 days are added to the 30-day appeal period under NRAP 26(c) to allow for service of the notice of entry, unless the paper is delivered on the date of service.

Here, the district court's order awarding supplemental attorney fees qualifies as a special order after final judgment, and is therefore an appealable order. NRAP 3A(b)(8); Winston Prods. Co. v. DeBoer, 122 Nev. 517, 525, 134 P.3d 726, 731 (2006). As service of the order's notice of entry was by mail, appellants had only 33 days from August 14, 2012, to file their notice of appeal, unless the appeal period was tolled. NRAP 4(a)(1), 26(c). Generally, the time for filing a notice of appeal may be tolled if one of several different enumerated motions is filed, including a motion to alter or amend the judgment under NRCP 59. NRAP 4(a)(4). But because NRCP 59 provides for a motion to alter or amend the judgment, it is unclear whether the motion was properly applied to a post-judgment order. See, e.g., Ex parte Troutman Sanders, LLP, 866 So.2d 547, 550 (Ala. 2003) (stating that a motion to alter or amend "may be made only in reference to a final judgment or order" (internal quotation omitted)). Thus, the question in this appeal is whether the rule allows only for motions directed at final judgments, or whether a party can move to alter or amend other orders entered by the district court as well.[1]

In resolving this issue, we turn to the definition of judgment as outlined in NRCP 54(a), which states that "'judgment' as used in these rules includes . . . any order from which an appeal lies." See also Lee v. GNLV Corp, , 116 Nev, 424, 426-27, 996 P.2d 416, 417 (2000) (recognizing that this definition pertains to the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure). As this definition specifically states that it applies whenever the term "judgment" is used in the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure, we must apply this definition when construing the language of NRCP 59(e) allowing for a "motion to alter or amend the judgment." Applying the definition that judgment includes any appealable order, a motion to alter or amend is permitted as to any ...


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