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During Fiscal Year 2017, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant directed State Fiscal Officer Laura Jackson to reduce the budgets of various state agencies. In response, State Representative Bryant W. Clark and State Senator John Horhn brought a declaratory-judgment action against the Governor seeking preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, a writ of mandamus ordering the Governor to reverse the reductions, and a declaration that Mississippi Code Section 27-104-13 (Rev. 2017) was facially unconstitutional. After an expedited hearing, the chancellor denied the motions for injunctive relief and dismissed the complaint with prejudice. Representative Clark and Senator Horhn appealed. The Mississippi Supreme Court found the budget reductions were an exercise of the executive’s core constitutional power. Therefore, it affirmed the chancellor’s final order because Representative Clark and Senator Horhn failed to overcome the strong presumption that Section 27-104-13 was constitutional. View "Clark v. Bryant" on Justia Law

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Belmont Holding, LLC, filed a complaint in replevin against Davis Monuments, LLC, and Jason Davis, individually. The case proceeded to trial. The county court denied the replevin and entered a final judgment. Aggrieved, Belmont filed a notice of appeal within thirty days of the final judgment. However, Belmont did not pay the cost bond within thirty days of the final judgment as required by Mississippi Code Section 11-51-79 (Rev. 2012). The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed dismissal of the appeal due to lack of jurisdiction because the bond was not paid. View "Belmont Holding, LLC v. Davis Monuments, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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While recovering from surgery at Memorial Hospital at Gulfport, eighty-nine-year-old Lautain Scruggs fell after getting out of her hospital bed. Scruggs suffered a serious head injury that required almost immediate surgery. Several years later, Scruggs died; her death was unrelated to the head injury. Scruggs’s daughters Julia Cavalier and Jannette Scruggs McDonald and her estate (collectively Cavalier) filed a complaint against Memorial Hospital for medical negligence. Pursuant to the Mississippi Tort Claims Act, the trial court conducted a bench trial, with the evidence essentially being a battle-of -the-experts on the appropriate standard of care as it related to Memorial Hospital’s fall-risk assessment tool. Ultimately, the trial court found in favor of Memorial Hospital, and Cavalier filed a motion for a new trial. The trial court denied Cavalier’s motion for a new trial, so Cavalier filed this appeal. Finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Cavalier v. Memorial Hospital at Gulfport" on Justia Law

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Patsy Wood, administratix of Patricia Peoples’s estate and a wrongful death beneficiary, as well as Sandra Kay Madison and Samuel Peoples, Peoples’s other children and wrongful death beneficiaries, sued Lakeland Nursing and its employees, primarily the nurses involved in caring for Peoples, for negligence. Lakeland Nursing and Nurses Brittany Spann, Mary McGowan, Patricia Rhodes, and Barbara Scott (collectively “the Nurses”) filed motions to dismiss, arguing that Wood did not comply with the presuit notice requirements provided in Mississippi Code Section 15-1-36(15) (Rev. 2012). Peoples, a resident at Lakeland Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, LLC, fell on September 12, 2011, and died from her injuries. Her children sued Lakeland Nursing and the Nurses for negligence. The issue this interlocutory appeal presented for the Mississippi Supreme Court's review centered on whether Patsy Wood gave proper presuit notice to the Nurses pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 15-1-36(15), such that the circuit court correctly denied the Nurses’ motions to dismiss. Finding that Wood failed to do so, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s denial of the Nurses’ motion to dismiss, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Spann v. Wood" on Justia Law

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Consolidated appeals involved two separate circuit-court actions (one an appeal from justice court) emanating from a foreclosure action that were consolidated after one of the circuit-court actions was transferred to the chancery court. Sadie Tillman contested the transfer by filing a motion to reconsider in the circuit court. But the circuit court took several months to rule on the motion. When it finally did, the circuit court denied Tillman’s motion to reconsider, and Tillman filed an interlocutory appeal contesting the order denying reconsideration. Tillman also filed an appeal of the denial of reconsideration under Rule 4 of the Mississippi Rules of Appellate Procedure. Upon review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found that by operation of Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 60(c), Tillman’s appeals of the motion to reconsider were untimely. As a result, the Court dismissed the appeals. View "Tillman v. Ditech Financial, LLC" on Justia Law

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Adrian Montgomery and Terome O’Neal were drinking beer and liquor and smoking marijuana in a park. An eyewitness saw O’Neal knock Montgomery’s joint to the ground, which prompted Montgomery to angrily attack O’Neal. Paramedics later found O’Neal on the ground unconscious. He died days later in the hospital of multiple blunt-force trauma. Montgomery was indicted for deliberate-design murder but convicted on the lesser-included crime of depraved-heart murder. The judge granted a mistrial when the State learned (after the jury had been empaneled) the medical examiner who had conducted O’Neal’s autopsy had a sudden family emergency, rendering him unavailable. Montgomery argued his second trial placed him in double jeopardy because there had been no manifest necessity for the mistrial. In affirming Montgomery's convictions, the Mississippi Supreme Court determined the medical examiner was a key witness whose unavailability was unanticipated by the State. And due to the unknown and open-ended nature of the emergency, a continuance did not appear to be a reasonable option. So there was manifest necessity to declare a mistrial. View "Montgomery v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Frankie Jones was indicted for one count of first degree murder of Billy Ray Covington and one count of felon in possession of a firearm. A jury found Jones guilty on both counts, and the trial court sentenced him as a habitual offender under Mississippi Code Section 99-19-81 to life for the murder conviction and ten years for the felon in possession of a firearm conviction, with the sentences to be served concurrently. Jones appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Jones v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Curtis Brown petitioned the Mississippi Supreme Court for certiorari review of a Court of Appeals decision affirming a circuit court judgment in favor of Professional Building Services (PBS). Brown was the former clubhouse manager at Colonial Country Club in Jackson, Mississippi, which closed its doors in 2014. On September 28, 2012, Brown arrived at the clubhouse around 5 p.m. to do a monthly inventory of the “19th Hole Lounge” and “the grill”—a restaurant inside the clubhouse. That night, PBS employees also were at the clubhouse, cleaning and vacuuming the grill area. Around 8:00 p.m., the PBS staff left, leaving Brown alone in the clubhouse. Walking the grounds in relative darkness, he stumbled over a chair positioned in a doorway. He was taken to the hospital. Accounts differed as to how Brown said he was injured: he told a doctor he hit the chair; a bartender from the clubhouse says Brown told her he was chasing a mouse. Brown claimed the trial court had abused its discretion by admitting certain evidence and by instructing the jury with instructions to which Brown had objected at trial. Finding that the jury was instructed properly on this evidence and that the testimony was provided by an expert qualified under Mississippi Rule of Evidence 702, the Supreme Court affirmed the lower courts' judgments. View "Brown v. Professional Building Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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Officer Michael Kelly was responding to a call that an intoxicated person was lying unconscious on the sidewalk outside the Days Inn in Clinton, Mississippi. While en route, his police vehicle collided with Patrice Tornes’s car. Tornes sued Officer Kelly and his employer, the City of Clinton, claiming Officer Kelly’s “reckless and negligent actions directly caused the subject accident.” Specifically, she alleged Officer Kelly “caused his vehicle to be driven in a careless, negligent, and reckless manner and without due regard for the safety and convenience of Patrice Tornes, and without giving any warning sign or proper signal of the approach of said vehicle.” And she asserted the City of Clinton was “vicariously liable for its employee’s careless, negligent, and reckless operation of his vehicle while acting in the course and scope of his employment as an officer for the City of Clinton Police Department.” She also claimed the City was liable for its own actions—specifically, “its negligent training of its employee in how to properly operate his motor vehicle in accordance for the safety of others” and its negligent entrustment of the subject vehicle to Officer Kelly on the day the wreck occurred. Both Officer Kelly and the City moved for summary judgment, claiming immunity from suit. This case came before the Mississippi Supreme Court on interlocutory appeal, because the trial court ruled in Tornes' favor. The Supreme Court held the municipality and the officer could not be liable for plaintiff's claims under the Mississippi Tort Claims Act, reversed the denial of summary judgment and rendered judgment in defendants' favor. View "City of Clinton v. Tornes" on Justia Law

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Terry Hill was convicted on one count of robbery, two counts of kidnapping, and one count of sexual battery. Hill raised one issue on appeal: whether the trial court erred in denying his attorney’s motion to withdraw and Hill’s motions for new counsel. Because of the defendant’s actions prior to and at trial, and because of the substantial evidence against Hill, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the trial court. View "Hill v. Mississippi" on Justia Law