Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi
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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Defendant Alex Herrgott, was driving a four-seat Polaris all-terrain vehicle at night down a gravel road when he “overcorrected” trying to avoid a pothole. The ATV overturned, and Joseph MacNabb, a passenger, was severely injured. Since MacNabb was a state employee in the course and scope of his employment, he received workers’ compensation benefits from the Mississippi State Agencies Self-Insured Workers’ Compensation Trust. The Trust later initiated this litigation in an attempt to recover more than $300,000 in benefits paid for MacNabb’s injury. The circuit court ultimately granted summary judgment to Herrgott because the Trust’s Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6) representative could not articulate a legal theory entitling it to recover. The Mississippi Supreme Court found there was sufficient evidence of Herrgott’s negligence for the case to go to trial, and the deposition testimony of a lay witness should not have bound the Trust as to which legal theories it could pursue. The Supreme Court therefore reversed the summary judgment and remanded the case for trial. View "Mississippi State Agencies Self-Insured Workers' Compensation Trust v. Herrgott" on Justia Law

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The General Council of the Assemblies of God (General Council) governed the Assemblies of God denomination. Its affiliate, the Mississippi District Council for Assemblies of God (District), governed the denomination’s local churches in Mississippi, including Gulf Coast Worship Center (GCWC) in Long Beach. In January 2017, Kevin Beachy, the pastor of GCWC, did not renew his credentials as an ordained pastor with the General Council, ultimately informing the District that he and GCWC intended to disaffiliate from the General Council. The District then informed Beachy that GCWC was being placed under District supervision. On March 19, 2017, the GCWC congregation voted to disaffiliate from the General Council. The congregation voted also to remove a reverter clause from its constitution and bylaws; this clause would have caused the GCWC’s property to revert to the District in the event that GCWC ceased operating as a “church body.” In November 2017, the District filed a chancery court petition for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief against Beachy and the GCWC board of trustees, Eddie Kinsey, Andre Mulet, and Kris Williams (collectively, Defendants). Both the District and Defendants moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted the District’s motion for summary judgment and denied Defendants’ motion. Defendants appealed. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court determined that issues concerning disaffiliation, i.e., actions taken at the congregational meeting on March 19, 2017, and whether GCWC was under the District’s supervision, were church-governing matters. Thus, the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine deprived the chancellor of jurisdiction to address those claims. But the Supreme Court found genuine issues of material fact remained regarding ownership of property. Therefore, the Court reversed the chancellor’s grant of summary judgment to the District and remanded all issues concerning ownership of property for further proceedings. View "Beachy, et al. v. Mississippi District Council for Assemblies of God" on Justia Law

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The Mississippi Department of Transportation hired Joe McGee Construction Company, Inc., for a road construction and bridge replacement project. The Department designed the temporary traffic control plan for the project, which provided for the placement of temporary traffic signs. McGee Construction then subcontracted with Riverside Traffic Systems, Inc. for the placement of the signs leading up to and around the site. Hattie Brown drove down the closed portion of Highway 245 and collided with a stationary crane, resulting in her death. Responding Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper Jonathan Ragan’s report stated Brown’s vehicle “collided with the barricade on the southbound lane and traveled approximately 200 yards colliding head on with a crane parked on a bridge.” His report also noted that “[t]here was adequate warning signage of the road being closed with barricades across both lanes” and that “[t]he southbound side barricade was destroyed.” Dianne Brown-Bowens, Hattie Brown’s daughter, filed a wrongful death suit against McGee Construction, and later amended the complaint to include the Department and Riverside as defendants, asserting claims of negligence and strict liability, and sought to recover punitive damages. McGee Construction moved for summary judgment, asserting it “provided legally sufficient notice to motorists, including [Hattie] Brown, that the section of Highway 245 South where the accident occurred was closed and that McGee Construction therefore, breached no duty owed to [Hattie] Brown” and that it was not negligent because none of its actions proximately caused the accident. The trial court entered an order granting Riverside’s motion for summary judgment and granting in part and denying in part the Department’s and McGee Construction’s motions for summary judgment, ruling that the Department’s and McGee Construction’s summary judgment motions were denied as to Brown-Bowens’s negligence claim but granted as to her claims for strict liability and for punitive damages. On appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court, defendants argued the trial court erred by denying their motions for summary judgment because Brown-Bowens failed to present evidence that either party, by act or omission, contributed to the death of Hattie Brown. The Court agreed with this and reversed the trial court. View "Joe McGee Construction Company, Inc. v. Brown-Bowens" on Justia Law

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Le Papillon Homeowner’s Association Inc. sought to collect homeowners’ association fees from Loblolly Properties LLC for the nine lots it owned in the Le Papillon development. Loblolly argued that it did not have to pay HOA fees because a nonjudicial foreclosure sale extinguished all restrictive covenants on the subject lots. The trial court disagreed, finding that the covenants were on record when Loblolly purchased the subject lots in the Le Papillon property. The trial court also held that Loblolly’s Special Warranty Deed’s language clearly stated that the “conveyance and the warranty hereof is subject to any and all Covenants and Restrictions of record.” The trial court later granted summary judgment for Le Papillon. Loblolly appealed, raising two issues: (1) whether the foreclosure sale made the covenants and restrictions not binding, despite the language of the Special Warranty Deed; and (2) whether the foreclosure extinguished the covenants and restrictions. The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court, holding that Loblolly was bound to the covenants through the language in the Special Warranty Deed and that the foreclosure did not extinguish the covenants and restrictions. Upon a review of the record and law in this state, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the trial and appellate courts. View "Loblolly Properties LLC v. Le Papillon Homeowner's Association Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Jackie and Debra Aycock sued the University of Mississippi Medical Center for medical negligence, alleging injuries Jackie suffered occurred as a result of the hospital’s negligence. The medical center sought summary judgment seeking dismissal of the negligence action based on the Aycocks’ failure to serve its chief executive officer with their notice of claim as required by Mississippi Code Section 11-46-11(2)(a)(ii) (Rev. 2019). The hospital argued that the Aycocks’ failure to serve proper notice resulted in the running of the one-year statute of limitations under Mississippi Code Section 11-46-11(3)(a) (Rev. 2019). The circuit court denied summary judgment, finding that genuine issues of material fact existed. The hospital appealed. but the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's denial of UMMC's motion for summary judgment. View "University of Mississippi Medical Center v. Aycock" on Justia Law