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Green Tree Servicing, LLC v. Jones

Court of Appeals of Georgia

July 16, 2015

GREEN TREE SERVICING, LLC
v.
JONES et al

Arbitration. Muscogee State Court. Before Judge Prather.

Kenney & Medina, Thomas S. Kenney, John A. Medina, for appellant.

Charles A. Gower, Miranda J. Brash; Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore, Michael B. Terry, for appellees.

ANDREWS, Presiding Judge. Phipps, C. J., Barnes, P. J., Ellington, P. J., Doyle, P. J., Dillard, McFadden, Boggs, Ray, Branch, and McMillian, JJ., concur. Miller, J., concurs specially.

OPINION

Page 715

Andrews, Presiding Judge.

Green Tree Servicing, LLC appeals from the reviewing court's order confirming an arbitration award and entry of judgment in favor of Maxwell Jones and Cynthia Jones on wrongful foreclosure and related claims against Green Tree. Because the order confirming the award was entered without giving Green Tree required notice and an opportunity to respond to the Joneses' application to confirm the award, we vacate the confirmation order and the judgment entered on the order, and remand the case to the reviewing court.

1. As a threshold matter, we address, sua sponte, this Court's jurisdiction to consider Green Tree's appeal.

The record shows that the reviewing court entered an order confirming the arbitration award in favor of the Joneses, and, upon entry of the order, also entered a separate judgment in favor of the Joneses. The reviewing court entered the separate order and judgment on the same document, and the appeal was taken from the final judgment.

It is undisputed that the arbitration concerned an agreement involving interstate commerce and was governed by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). Pursuant to 9 U.S.C. § 16 (a) (1) (D) of the FAA, appeals may be taken from a reviewing court's order confirming an arbitration award which would not otherwise qualify as an appealable final judgment under the traditional final judgment rules of 28 U.S.C. § 1291. Bull HN Information Systems, Inc. v. Hutson, 229 F.3d 321, 327 (1st Cir. 2000). The contrary Georgia rule is that this Court has no jurisdiction to consider an appeal taken from a reviewing court's order confirming an arbitration award; rather, upon entry of the court's order confirming the award, a separate judgment must also be entered by the reviewing court, and this Court has jurisdiction to consider an appeal taken from the judgment. OCGA § § 5-6-34 (a); 9-9-15; 9-9-16. But for the judgment to be appealable, this Court has also held that, " with regard to judicial actions confirming arbitration awards, the judgment and the order confirming the award must be on separate documents. ..." Barge v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 245 Ga.App. 112, 117 (535 S.E.2d 837) (2000); OCGA § 9-9-15 (b).

[333 Ga.App. 185] We first consider whether the FAA rule preempts the Georgia rule.

Because the FAA contains no express preemptive provision and does not reflect a congressional intent to occupy the entire field of arbitration, its provisions will preempt state law only to the extent it stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.

American Gen. Financial Svcs. v. Jape, 291 Ga. 637, 639 (732 S.E.2d 746) (2012) (citation and ...


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