Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi

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This interlocutory appeal arose from a circuit court’s denial of a motion to transfer venue. Under Mississippi law, venue is determined at the time the lawsuit originally is filed. The resolution of this appeal hinged on the application of this principle to an issue of first impression for the Mississippi Supreme Court: does an amended complaint, which names a new party to the suit, relate back to the time of filing of the original complaint for the purposes of determining venue? The Court found it did not. The suit here was filed in Hinds County, naming only Forrest County defendants, and the amended complaint did not relate back to the time of filing for the purposes of determining venue. The circuit court abused its discretion in denying the motion to transfer venue. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court and remanded the case to be transferred to the Circuit Court Forrest County. View "Forrest General Hospital v. Upton" on Justia Law

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First Presbyterian Church PCUSA of Starkville, Mississippi, (“FPC”) sought declaratory relief, a temporary restraining order, and injunctive relief against the Presbytery of St. Andrew Presbyterian Church U.S.A., Inc. (“Presbytery”), after the Presbytery claimed FPC’s property was held in trust for the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (“PCUSA”). FPC has transitioned into and out of multiple Presbyterian denominations, including the Old School Presbyterian Church; the Presbyterian Church, Confederate States of America; and the Presbyterian Church in the United States (“PCUS”). In 1983, the PCUS merged with another Presbyterian denomination to create the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (“PCUSA”). FPC has been affiliated with the PCUSA since its inception. FPC claimed that, although it was affiliated with several different Presbyterian denominations, it existed as an “independent, unincorporated religious association from its founding until 2003.” Following its incorporation, FPC conveyed to the corporation its main property and facility in Starkville. The titleholder of record was then identified as FPC’s corporate entity. Any property duly transferred to the corporation remains held by and titled in the name of First Presbyterian Church, Starkville, Mississippi. Prior to 1982, no official documents of the PCUS included trust language. After the PCUSA was formed, the Book of Order contained a trust clause, and local churches then were required to “obtain permission before selling, mortgaging, or otherwise encumbering the property of that particular church.” Because this new trust clause was a departure from prior practice, the PCUSA’s constitution allowed for a “property exception.” Due to increasing disagreement with the PCUSA, FPC voted to cease monetary contributions to the Presbytery and look at the possibility of joining another Presbyterian denomination. In response to schism in the membership of FPC, the Presbytery notified FPC that it had appointed a Presbytery committee, called an Administrative Commission, to “inquire into and settle difficulties” at FPC. FPC’s session passed a resolution authorizing the filing of a legal action to determine the property rights of FPC, the Presbytery, and the PCUSA. FPC sought a declaratory judgment recognizing FPC’s exclusive ownership of all property held by it or in its name, free of any trust claimed by the PCUSA. FPC also requested a temporary restraining order prohibiting the Presbytery from taking control or possession of FPC’s property or from interfering with FPC’s property ownership. The chancery court granted summary judgment in favor of FPC, finding no evidence of any trust, express or implied. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed and affirmed the finding of the chancery court. View "Presbytery of St. Andrew, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., Inc. v. First Presbyterian Church PCUSA of Starkville" on Justia Law

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Twelve Medicaid-participating hospitals (“Hospitals”) challenged the Department of Medicaid’s (“DOM’s”) recalculation of their Medicaid outpatient rates for fiscal year 2001. The chancery court affirmed the opinion of the DOM, finding that “DOM interpreted its own regulation – the State Plan, which is its contract with the federal government and which it is required to follow to receive federal funds to require Medicaid to calculate the cost to charge ratio by using Medicare Methodology, which at that time was using a blended rate.” The Mississippi Supreme Court found the plain language of Attachment 4.19-B of the State Plan provided a cost-to-charge-ratio formula for calculating outpatient rates. Laboratory and radiology charges were to be excluded from this formula, because they were reimbursed on a fee-for-service basis. DOM’s inclusion of radiology and laboratory services in the charges and substitution of costs with Medicare blended payment amounts was a clear violation of the State Plan. Therefore, the Court reversed the judgments of DOM and the chancery court. Consistent with its opinion, the Court remanded and ordered the Executive Director of DOM to recalculate the Hospitals’ cost-to-charge ratio using the Hospital’s submitted costs in their cost reports, excluding laboratory and radiology services, and reimbursing the Hospitals the appropriate amounts determined by using the State Plan. View "Crossgates River Oaks Hospital v. Mississippi Division of Medicaid" on Justia Law

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On April 19, 2011, the vehicles driven by Victor May and Kenneth Austin collided at the intersection of Northside Drive and Hanging Moss Road in Jackson, Mississippi. Claiming that the wreck produced injuries to his neck, lower back, and right shoulder, May filed suit seeking damages for Austin’s alleged negligence in causing the accident. Shortly after May filed his complaint, the parties engaged in discovery. A year and a half later, the defendants filed a motion requesting that the circuit court dismiss the matter with prejudice, due to May’s inconsistent and deliberately false testimony throughout the discovery process. The circuit court entered its decision after finding that May willfully concealed his past injuries and accidents, significantly prejudicing the defendants’ ability to proceed with their case. After reviewing the circuit court’s decision for an abuse of discretion, the Mississippi Supreme Court found the circuit court did not err in finding that the plaintiff committed numerous discovery violations which resulted in inordinate delay and increased costs to the defendants. As a result, the Court affirmed dismissal. View "May v. Austin" on Justia Law

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Tommy Brooks Oil Co. (“Brooks Oil”) challenged the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Jerry Wilburn. According to Brooks Oil, Wilburn Oil Co., Inc. (“Wilburn Oil”) had amassed nearly $1 million in unpaid fuel bills before Brooks Oil refused to sell Wilburn Oil any more fuel until Wilburn executed two personal guaranties for $250,000. After Brooks Oil sued Wilburn to enforce the guaranties, Wilburn moved for summary judgment, claiming a unilateral or mutual mistake concerning the guaranties. According to Wilburn, the parties never intended the guaranties to include Wilburn Oil’s past debt. The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment, dismissing Brooks Oil’s suit against Wilburn with prejudice. The Mississippi Supreme Court found Wilburn did not meet his summary-judgment burden, therefore, it reversed the trial court’s judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Tommy Brooks Oil Co. v. Wilburn Oil Company, Inc." on Justia Law

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Tommy Brooks Oil Co. (“Brooks Oil”) challenged the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Jerry Wilburn. According to Brooks Oil, Wilburn Oil Co., Inc. (“Wilburn Oil”) had amassed nearly $1 million in unpaid fuel bills before Brooks Oil refused to sell Wilburn Oil any more fuel until Wilburn executed two personal guaranties for $250,000. After Brooks Oil sued Wilburn to enforce the guaranties, Wilburn moved for summary judgment, claiming a unilateral or mutual mistake concerning the guaranties. According to Wilburn, the parties never intended the guaranties to include Wilburn Oil’s past debt. The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment, dismissing Brooks Oil’s suit against Wilburn with prejudice. The Mississippi Supreme Court found Wilburn did not meet his summary-judgment burden, therefore, it reversed the trial court’s judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Tommy Brooks Oil Co. v. Wilburn Oil Company, Inc." on Justia Law

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Pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 27-35-119 (Rev. 2017), Natchez Hospital Company, LLC, (“Hospital”) filed a Complaint and Petition For Reduction of Assessment on Software. This ad valorem assessment was made by the Adams County Board of Supervisors (“Board”). Prior to appealing to the circuit court, the Hospital paid the ad valorem taxes as assessed. The Board filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, arguing that the Hospital had failed to post the necessary appeal bond required by Mississippi Code Section 11-51-77 (Rev. 2012), thus depriving the circuit court of jurisdiction. Following a hearing on the motion, the circuit court determined that the Hospital’s failure to post the bond under Section 11-51-77 deprived the court of jurisdiction to hear the appeal and granted the Board’s motion to dismiss. The Hospital appealed the circuit court’s decision to dismiss the case, asking only whether the bond requirement of Mississippi Code Section 11-51-77 was mandatory to confer jurisdiction on a circuit court to hear an appeal from a decision of a board of supervisors regarding an assessment of taxes. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined the Hospital paid the tax, but that was no excuse for not posting the bond to give the trial court jurisdiction to hear its complaint. Therefore, the Supreme Court affirmed dismissal of the Hospital’s case. View "Natchez Hospital Company, LLC v. Adams County Board of Supervisors" on Justia Law

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This interlocutory appeal arose from a 2010 civil suit filed by Carol Clement against Russell Puckett. After Puckett’s death in 2014, Clement substituted the Estate of Russell Puckett (the “Estate”) as the defendant in the suit and served the Estate. The Estate moved to dismiss the suit due to failure to timely serve process under Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 4(h). The Estate argued that the statute of limitations had expired before Clement perfected service. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss. The Estate appealed the trial court’s denial of the motion to dismiss. Because the trial court erred when it denied the motion to dismiss, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and rendered judgment in favor of the Estate. View "Estate of Russell Puckett v. Clement" on Justia Law

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Bettye Logan sustained a compensable leg injury while employed at Klaussner Furniture Corporation d/b/a Bruce Furniture Industries (“Klaussner”). An Administrative Judge (“AJ”), and the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission (“Commission”), found that Logan had suffered a sixty-percent loss of industrial use to her left lower extremity, which entitled her to 105 weeks of compensation set at $331.06 for her “scheduled-member” injury under Mississippi Code Section 71-3-17(c)(2). Logan appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the Commission and the AJ had applied the incorrect part of Section 71-3-17 and that either subsection (a) or subsection (c)(25) of the statute, and not subsection (c)(2), applied. Klaussner and the American Casualty Company, the carrier, petitioned the Mississippi Supreme Court for review. The Court determined the Commission and the AJ properly awarded Logan permanent-partial disability benefits under Section 71-3-17(c)(2). Accordingly, it reversed the Court of Appeals and reinstated and affirmed the holding of the AJ and Commission. View "Logan v. Klaussner Furniture Corp." on Justia Law

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Teresa Vermilyea and her daughter, Julie Vermilyea Kasby, filed suit against Singing River Health System, Jennifer Thomas-Taylor, M.D.; Alva Britt, R.N.; Benjamin Hudson, M.D.; and Emergency Room Group, Ltd., pursuant to the Mississippi Tort Claims Act for the wrongful death of Randy Vermilyea, the husband of Teresa Vermilyea and father of Julie Vermilyea Kasby (collectively, “Vermilyea”). Vermilyea alleged that Randy had been admitted to the Singing River Hospital following a suicide attempt and that the defendants had breached the standard of care by failing to assess his mental condition properly and prematurely discharging him, proximately causing his suicide minutes after his discharge. Julie Vermilyea Kasby, who had witnessed her father’s suicide, asserted a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial court denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted appellants' interlocutory appeal. Finding that Vermilyea did state viable legal claims based upon Randy Vermilyea’s death, the Supreme Court affirmed and remanded the case to the Circuit Court for further proceedings. View "Singing River Health System v. Vermilyea" on Justia Law