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Luster v. Bank of America, N.A.

Court of Appeals of Georgia

March 4, 2015

LUSTER
v.
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A. et al

Reconsideration denied March 25, 2015 -- Cert. applied for.

Dismissal; want of prosecution. Catoosa Superior Court. Before Judge House.

Appeal dismissed.

Lois Luster, pro se.

Lotstein Legal, Marcus G. Keegan, A. Michelle Canter, McGuire Woods, Jarrod S. Mendel, Andrew G. Phillips, for appellees.

MILLER, Judge. Doyle, P. J., and Dillard, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 395

Miller, Judge.

Lois Luster filed a wrongful foreclosure suit against Bank of America, N.A., successor by merger with Countrywide Home Loans Servicing, Investors One Corporation, Kondaur Capital Corporation, [331 Ga.App. 511] MERSCORP, Inc., and Campbell & Brannon, LLC.[1] After Luster failed to appear in court, the trial court dismissed her suit for want of prosecution. Thereafter, the trial court denied Luster's motion for new trial or, alternatively, to set aside the dismissal, and Luster filed this appeal. Since we lack jurisdiction to consider Luster's appeal, it must be dismissed.

" It is our duty to inquire on our own motion into the issue of this Court's jurisdiction." (Citations omitted.) Southwest Health & Wellness, LLC v. Work, 282 Ga.App. 619, 622 (1) (a) (639 S.E.2d 570) (2006).

The trial court dismissed Luster's suit for want of prosecution on February 5, 2014. A judgment dismissing a plaintiff's entire complaint is a final order and is directly appealable under OCGA § 5-6-34 (a) (1). See Andemeskel v. Waffle House, Inc., 227 Ga.App. 887 (1) (490 S.E.2d 550) (1997). Pursuant to OCGA § 5-6-38 (a), a notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days of the appealable decision. Luster did not, however, file a notice of appeal within 30 days after the dismissal of her suit. Instead, Luster filed a motion, captioned " a motion for new trial or, alternatively, a motion to set aside the dismissal," which the trial court denied on April 9, 2014. Luster then filed a notice of appeal on April 15, 2014, seeking review of the trial court's April 9 order.

" [T]he appealability of an order is determined, not by its form or the name given to it ..., but rather by its substance and effect." (Footnote omitted.) First Christ Holiness Church, Inc. v. Owens Temple First Christ Holiness Church, Inc., 282 Ga. 883, 885 (655 S.E.2d 605) (2008).

Objections which go to the judgment only, and do not extend to the verdict, cannot properly be made grounds of a motion for new trial. A motion for new trial seeks to set aside the verdict. No new trial is necessary to correct a judgment or decree. If a judgment or decree is erroneous or illegal, direct exception should be taken to it at the proper time.

( Citation and punctuation omitted.) Leader Nat. Ins. Co. v. Martin, 185 Ga.App. 27, 29 (1) (363 S.E.2d 281) (1987).

Although Luster designated her motion as a motion for new trial, she objected to the judgment of dismissal. Thus, her motion cannot properly be construed as a motion for new trial.[2] See Martin, supra, [331 Ga.App. 512] 185 Ga.App. at 29 (1); see also Rothstein v. Brooks, 133 Ga.App. 52, 53 (4) (209 S.E.2d 674) (1974) (where case was purportedly dismissed for want of prosecution, there had been no trial, and thus the rules

Page 396

relating to motions for new trial did not apply). " Where a motion for new trial is not a proper vehicle for review of a trial court's action, the motion has no validity and will not extend the time for filing the notice of appeal." Pillow v. Seymour, 255 Ga. 683, 684 (341 S.E.2d 447) (1986).

If we construe Luster's motion as a motion to set aside under OCGA § 9-11-60 (d), such an order may only be appealed by complying with the discretionary appeal procedures, which Luster did not do. See OCGA § 5-6-35 (a) (8); Arrowhead Alternator, Inc. v. CIT Communications Finance Corp., 268 Ga.App. 464, 466 (602 S.E.2d 231) (2004). Furthermore, to the extent Luster's motion could be considered a motion for reconsideration, it did not extend the time to appeal from the underlying order, and the order resolving a motion for reconsideration is not subject to direct appeal. See Bell v. Cohran, 244 Ga.App. 510 (536 S.E.2d 187) (2000). Accordingly, Luster's notice of appeal, filed more than 30 days after the trial court's dismissal, was untimely and we lack jurisdiction to consider her appeal.

Appeal dismissed.

Doyle, P. J., and Dillard, J., concur.


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