Justia Civil Procedure Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi
Riverhills Capital Corporation, et al. v. At Home Care, Inc.
At Home Care, Inc. filed suit against RiverHills Capital Corporation and others for breach of contract, fraud, and for quiet title surrounding a lease on real property that At Home Care purchased. RiverHills Capital Corporation filed a motion to transfer the case to chancery court, alleging that the chancery court had subject-matter jurisdiction because, in essence, At Home Care could not succeed on the merits of its legal claims. The circuit court denied its motion. Because the circuit court did not err by denying the motion to transfer, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed and remanded this case to the circuit court. View "Riverhills Capital Corporation, et al. v. At Home Care, Inc." on Justia Law
K&C Logistics, LLC v. Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc., et al.
K&C Logistics, LLC, brought suit in Madison County, Mississippi Circuit Court against Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc., and Daniel Cooper as the result of a vehicle accident that occurred in Nogales, Arizona. The trial court determined that it did not have personal jurisdiction over Old Dominion. K&C Logistics appealed, asking the Mississippi Supreme Court to find that courts in Mississippi had jurisdiction over Old Dominion. The Court was further requested to interpret the Mississippi Business Corporation Act to hold that Old Dominion, a foreign corporation registered to do business in Mississippi, consented to general personal jurisdiction when it registered to do business in the state. Finding no reversible error in the circuit court order, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "K&C Logistics, LLC v. Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc., et al." on Justia Law
Howard Industries, Inc. v. Hayes
The Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Commission imposed a $1,000 sanction against an employer’s attorney for submitting misleading documentation to an Administrative Judge (AJ). The Court of Appeals affirmed the sanction and the Commission’s award of permanent disability benefits to the employee. On certiorari review, the Luisiana Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals that the sanction should have been affirmed. View "Howard Industries, Inc. v. Hayes" on Justia Law
McInnis Electric Company v. Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC et al.
Construction firm Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC, received the prime contract to expand the University of Mississippi Medical Center Children’s Hospital in 2017. Electrical contractor McInnis Electric Company secured the winning bid to install the electrical and low voltage systems package for the project and subsequently signed a subcontract with Brasfield & Gorrie. Terms of the subcontract incorporated the prime contract, which were related to the same project by reference. The contract provided that work was set to begin on the project on February 15, 2018. However, McInnis, was directed not to report on site until June 4, 2018, and, due to delays, was unable to begin until July 23, 2018. As work progressed, the schedule allegedly became delayed as a result of Brasfield & Gorrie’s failure to coordinate the work of the various subcontractors. McInnis averred that Brasfield & Gorrie’s failure to coordinate and facilitate the work of the various subcontractors worsened as the project progressed, and Brasfield & Gorrie experienced turnover in management. This failure allegedly delayed McInnis’s work, which was not on the path toward completion, supposedly through no fault of its own. Construction issues were amplified when on March 11, 2020, Mississippi experienced its first reported case of COVID-19. On April 1, 2020, the Mississippi Governor instituted a shelter in place order in response to the ongoing pandemic, requiring certain nonessential businesses to close and recommending social distancing to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in Mississippi. The children’s hospital was not classified as an existing infrastructure as it was a nonoperational work in progress and thus was not subject to the executive order’s exception to the governmental shutdowns. By May 8, 2020, McInnis had suffered an approximately 40 percent loss in its workforce due to employees testing positive for COVID-19. Despite the decrease in the available workforce, Brasfield & Gorrie demanded McInnis perform under its contractual obligation. McInnis took measures to continue the work. Brasfield & Gorrie further declined requests for accommodation and instead terminated McInnis on May 13, 2020. The case before the Mississippi Supreme Court here stemmed from disagreements and a broken contract between the parties, contesting whether arbitration was appropriate to settle their disputes. The trial court compelled arbitration, and the Supreme Court affirmed. View "McInnis Electric Company v. Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC et al." on Justia Law
Western World Insurance Group v. KC Welding, LLC
On July 12, 2018, Sunbelt Shavings, LLC (Sunbelt), requested that an employee from KC Welding, LLC (KC Welding), come to Sunbelt’s property to repair the door of a box containing wood chips. KC Welding arrived and welded the box; later that night, a fire started at Sunbelt’s property. The fire was extinguished on July 13, 2018. Three years later, on July 13, 2021, Western World Insurance Group (Western World), as the subrogee of Sunbelt, Shuqualak Lumber Co., and Wood Carriers, Inc., sued KC Welding for breach of contract and negligence. KC Welding moved to dismiss the case as untimely. On May 2, 2022, the trial court granted KC Welding’s motion, dismissing Western World’s complaint as untimely. Western World appealed. Finding that Western World had until July 12, 2021, to bring a timely claim against KC Welding, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the complaint as untimely. View "Western World Insurance Group v. KC Welding, LLC" on Justia Law
PriorityOne Bank v. Folkes
Laura Folkes sued PriorityOne Bank (PriorityOne) in Mississippi chancery court, seeking to set aside a foreclosure on the ground that it had been conducted in bad faith. PriorityOne appealed the chancellor’s denial of its motion to compel arbitration. In 2019, PriorityOne made a loan via a line of credit to Folkes, secured by a deed of trust on a commercial tract of real property. Folkes filed for bankruptcy in February 2020. PriorityOne foreclosed on the property after Folkes defaulted on her payment obligations under the bankruptcy agreement. Prior to the foreclosure, Folkes’s bankruptcy trustee made one payment in the amount of $9,394 to PriorityOne, which was credited to the loan. Following the foreclosure, PriorityOne sold the property to Steven Adams. In 2021, Folkes filed a complaint at chancery court alleging that the foreclosure was made in bad faith because the bank had accepted a “substantial payment” toward the debt prior to foreclosure. The chancellor never ruled on this motion. Later, Folkes amended her complaint against PriorityOne, PriorityOne employee Harvey Lott, Steven Adams, and 5-A Properties, LLP. In May 2022, the circuit court ordered that case to arbitration. In the chancery court proceeding, and with PriorityOne’s motion for summary judgment pending, Folkes was granted permission to amend her complaint to add clarifying facts to certain issues raised in the original complaint. The chancellor denied PriorityOne’s motion to compel arbitration, noting that chancery court was a court of equity and finding that Folkes “has established a prima faci[e] case showing that some impropriety may have occurred at or around the time of the foreclosure on her property that demands that she be given the opportunity to prove her case.” On the specific circumstances before us, the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed with Folkes that PriorityOne waived any right it may have had to compel arbitration by substantially participating in litigation and that Folkes was bound by her representation to the Court that the amended chancery complaint did not and was not intended to add discrete claims to her chancery action. View "PriorityOne Bank v. Folkes" on Justia Law
Warrington v. Watkins & Eager, PLLC, et al.
James Warrington, individually and as parent and legal natural guardian of his minor children J.P.W., Kingsley Elise Warrington, and Wesley Ann Warrington, appealed the trial court’s dismissal of his second complaint for impermissible claim splitting. Because the doctrine of claim splitting was inapplicable, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s dismissal of the second complaint, and remanded this case to the trial court with instructions to reinstate the second complaint and to proceed with litigation. View "Warrington v. Watkins & Eager, PLLC, et al." on Justia Law
Rhea v. Career General Agency, Inc., et al.
The facts of this case involved the formation of a promissory note between James Rhea and Career General Agency, Inc, GuideOne America Insurance Co. and Dennis Basden. The promissory note was allegedly signed in 2007 and paid off by 2017. Rhea filed this suit in 2018 claiming unconscionability, unjust enrichment, conversion and negligent infliction of emotional distress against Career General. Career General filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that the general three year statute of limitations expired in 2010. Rhea argued that under the doctrine of equitable estoppel and the continuing tort doctrine, the statute of limitations did not begin to run until he finished paying the note in 2017. In February 2020, the trial court granted Career General’s motion to dismiss finding that equitable estoppel and the continuing tort doctrine did not apply and that the statute of limitations barred Rhea’s claim. Ninety-nine days later, Rhea filed a “Motion for New Trial, Amended Judgment or Reconsideration under Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 59” stating that he had not received notice of the court’s order and asking the court to reconsider whether equitable estoppel and the continuing tort doctrine should apply. In June 2020, Career General responded to the Rule 59 motion and argued that Rhea had failed to present: (1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) new evidence not previously available; or (3) a need to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice. But Career General did not raise the issue of timeliness in their response. After a hearing in April 2021, the trial court denied Rhea's motion. The Mississippi Supreme Court found after review that the Court of Appeals in this case reached the correct decision but for the wrong reason. Regardless of whether the parties or the court raised the issue of timeliness, the Supreme Court held the Court of Appeals correctly found that it did not have appellate jurisdiction to review the February 2020 order. The judgment of the Court of Appeals was thus affirmed. View "Rhea v. Career General Agency, Inc., et al." on Justia Law
West v. West, et al.
Litigation that had been ongoing for twenty years, went before the Mississippi Supreme Court for the third time. The direct appeal involved the West family-owned corporations, West Quality Food Services, Inc. (West Quality), and Coastal Express, Inc. (Coastal) (collectively, “West Entities”), and Deborah West (Debbie West), former wife of Charles Timothy West (Tim West). The major issue on direct appeal was whether the chancellor erred in his priority-of-liens analysis. On cross-appeal, which was brought by Tim West, the issue was whether the chancellor considered his claim for retroactive child support. While these issues were pending on appeal, Tim West filed a separate action to challenge the statute of limitations applicable to an underlying judgment and to writs of garnishment that had been entered against him. The chancellor determined that the statute of limitations had run and ordered that the judgment, the writs of garnishment, and the writs of execution be deemed null and void. Debbie West appealed, and the Supreme Court consolidated the two cases. Regarding the direct appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s ruling and remanded for a determination of whether each of Tim West’s capital stock certificates were noted conspicuously with a bylaws restriction. If so, then the conspicuously noted stock certificate(s) should have priority over Debbie West’s valid equitable lien. If the stock certificate failed to conspicuously note the bylaws restriction on the stock certificate, then the 1994 equitable lien has priority over Tim West’s stock. Neither the Supreme Court nor the trial court addressed whether the penalty in Mississippi Code Section 13-3-129 was applicable in this case. As such, the Supreme Court remanded this issue for the chancellor to determine that question. As for the cross-appeal, the chancellor erred by failing to address Tim West’s retroactive child support claim. Thus, the Supreme Court remanded this issue for the chancellor to consider his claim in the first instance. Regarding the consolidated appeal, West v. West, No. 2022-CA-00147-SCT, the Supreme Court found that because Tim West engaged in claim splitting, the chancellor’s decision was reversed with orders to dismiss the case and reinstate the 2008 judgment, the writs of garnishment, and the writs of execution. View "West v. West, et al." on Justia Law
Gilmer v. Biegel, et al.
Matthew Gilmer filed his notice of appeal thirty-one days after entry of the judgment he appealed. Because Mississippi law required strictly enforced appeals deadlines, the Mississippi Supreme Court dismissed his appeal. This appeal was seen as an attempt to get around the Court's mandate and resurrect a dismissed appeal. While the motion to dismiss Gilmer’s untimely appeal was pending before the Supreme Court, Gilmer returned to the trial court and moved for an extension under Mississippi Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(g). Gilmer cited contracting COVID-19 and his original notice of appeal getting lost in the mail as reasons for his untimely notice of appeal. Gilmer asked the trial court to accept his day-late notice of appeal as timely filed due to excusable neglect. The Supreme Court found Gilmer did not move for this extension within the time period permitted by Rule 4(g). "Rule 4(g) is equally hard edged" —"[t]he trial court may extend the time for filing a notice of appeal upon motion filed not later than 30 days after the expiration of the time otherwise prescribed by this rule." The issue this appeal presented for the Mississippi Supreme Court was the fact that Gilmer did not file his motion for an extension until fifty days after the prescribed time to appeal had already expired. At that point, the trial court had no authority to grant Gilmer his requested relief. So the trial judge denied Gilmer’s motion on that basis. Because the relief Gilmer requested was outside trial court’s authority to grant, the Supreme Court affirmed the order denying an extension. View "Gilmer v. Biegel, et al." on Justia Law