Justia Mississippi Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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Lula McLeod and her husband, John McLeod, appeal the circuit court’s dismissal of their medical-negligence case on grounds that it was filed outside of the limit in the applicable statute of limitations. The Mississippi Supreme Court found that because the record reflected the case was timely filed, the circuit court’s judgment should be reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "McLeod v. Millette" on Justia Law

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Darrell Walter was convicted by jury of capital murder and aggravated assault, both enhanced by the use of a firearm. He was sentenced to life without parole for capital murder, ten years for aggravated assault, and an additional five years for the aggravated-assault firearm enhancement to run concurrent to the ten-year sentence. Walter’s counsel filed a “Lindsey” brief; Walter himself did not file a pro se brief. The Mississippi Supreme Court accepted defense counsel’s attestation there were no arguable issues for appeal. Finding the evidence sufficiently supported Walter’s convictions for capital murder with firearms enhancements, the Supreme Court affirmed conviction. View "Walter v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Alan Walker was convicted of the capital murder of Konya Edwards during the commission of sexual battery, for which he received the death sentence. He was also convicted of forcible rape and kidnapping, for which he was sentenced to thirty and thirty-five years, to run consecutively. On direct appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed his convictions and sentences, and denied Walker’s application for leave to file for post-conviction relief. Walker filed a successive post-conviction motion, arguing his counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel. On remand to the trial court, Walker failed to meet his burden of proof that trial counsel had rendered deficient performance that prejudiced him. Finding no grounds to reverse the trial judge’s determination, the Court affirmed conviction and sentences. View "Walker v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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After an automobile accident in 2015, Reericka Belk and Tracey Crayton filed suit against Victoria Morton in the Lee County Court. The case was tried by jury in September 2017, and the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of Morton. Belk and Crayton filed a motion for a new trial, claiming that the jury disregarded the instructions of the court and rendered a verdict contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence. The court granted the motion for a new trial. Morton petitioned the Mississippi Supreme Court for an interlocutory appeal. After review, the Supreme Court determined the jury was properly instructed on the law and was informed of all the relevant facts. The verdict returned by the jury was not against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. The Court found the trial judge abused his discretion by granting the motion for a new trial. Therefore, the Cout reversed the trial court’s order granting a new trial, and reinstated the trial court’s judgment entered on the jury’s verdict. View "Morton v. Belk" on Justia Law

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Vernon Walters was injured in a work-related incident in October 2006; the vehicle he was driving was struck by an oncoming train. After receiving workers’ compensation benefits, he and his wife, Donyell Walters, filed a third-party claim against the company operating the train involved in the collision, Kansas City Southern Railway Company (KCSR). The Walterses hired the Parsons Law Firm to represent them in their suit, and Tadd Parsons took the case. The Walterses’ lawsuit against KCSR was ultimately dismissed with prejudice in September 2010 for, among other reasons, failure to prosecute, failure to comply with discovery obligations and fraud upon the court. Tadd never told the Walterses that their case had been dismissed and led them to believe their case was ongoing. Three years after the case had been dismissed, Tadd admitted he fabricated a settlement offer from KCSR in the amount of $104,000 and advised the Walterses to accept the offer, which they did. When eight months passed after Tadd informed the Walterses about the fabricated settlement, the Walterses demanded to meet with Jack Parsons, the other general partner at the Parsons Law Firm. Jack offered the Walterses $50,000 to settle any claims they may have had against Tadd based on his conduct in representing them in the KCSR lawsuit. The Walterses refused Jack’s offer and then filed a claim against Tadd, Jack and the Parsons Law Firm, alleging claims of fraud, defamation, negligent representation, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress and punitive damages. The trial court granted partial summary judgment for the Walterses on the matter of liability, finding that Tadd and the Parsons Law Firm were liable for fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The court then held a jury trial on damages. The jury verdict awarded the Walterses $2,850,002 in compensatory damages, which exceeded what the Walterses had demanded in compensatory damages in their complaint and in their motion to set damages. Finding the jury’s verdict shocked the conscience, the court remitted the damages to $1,034,666.67 in a second amended final judgment. Parsons appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court, and the Walterses cross-appealed. The Supreme Court determined the trial court did not abuse its discretion by excluding irrelevant evidence about the underlying KCSR lawsuit because the value of the lawsuit had no bearing on the damages the Walterses sustained due to Tadd Parsons’s and the Parsons Law Firm’s fraud and IIED. Further, the Court determined the remitted verdict’s award of damages was excessive and not supported by substantial evidence. The trial court was therefore affirmed in part, reversed in part, and the matter remanded for a new trial on damages. View "Parsons v. Walters" on Justia Law

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In 2016, Linda Alford filed for divorce from Cincinnatus (“Nat”) Alford III. The parties agreed to a divorce based on irreconcilable differences, allowing the chancery court to divide the marital assets and expenses and to make a determination regarding alimony. The chancellor awarded Linda $5,000 per month in periodic alimony, $5,000 in attorney fees, and $6,000 in expert witness fees. Nat appealed the chancellor’s judgment. The Mississippi Supreme Court assigned the case to the Court of Appeals, which reversed and remanded the chancellor’s alimony award and reversed and rendered the amount of attorney fees. The Supreme Court granted Linda's petition for certiorari because it had not answered whether a chancellor should have considered Social Security benefits when considering initial alimony awards. The Supreme Court found that consideration of derivative Social Security benefits should have been reserved for alimony modification proceedings. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and reinstated the chancellor’s award of alimony. The Court of Appeals' decision to reverse and render the award of attorney fees was affirmed. View "Alford v. Alford" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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On remand from the Mississippi Supreme Court, the chancellor granted Michael Gerty a divorce from Joesie Gerty on the ground of adultery. The chancellor revisited her prior holdings regarding visitation, division of martial assets, and alimony. Finding error only regarding the number of months the parties were married, the Supreme Court affirmed as to all other issues and remanded for entry of final judgment. View "Gerty v. Gerty" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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In June 2014, Chester Abbott, as majority shareholder and director of A&H Technologies, Inc., formally noticed a special shareholder meeting. The meeting was to be held on July 23, 2014, in Mississippi. William Boatright, the only other shareholder, could not attend because he was working on an A&H project out of state. Despite William’s conflict, Chester proceeded with the meeting as the sole shareholder in attendance. Chester re-elected himself the lone director of A&H. He further determined he had been the only elected director of the company since 2001. Finally, he addressed the six-figure bonus he gave himself in December 2013, recording on the minutes that it was based on “his extraordinary work and effort to continue to build business and upon his forgoing any bonus for 2009 to 2012.” Chester held a board-of-directors meeting that same day. Chester elected himself president of A&H. Chester replaced William as vice president with his daughter-in-law Cynthia Abbott. And he replaced William’s wife, Kelley Boatright, as secretary/treasurer with his own wife, Carol Abbott. William sued Chester and A&H the next day, alleging that Chester’s oppressive conduct toward William was detrimental to A&H. In his complaint, William sought both to replace Chester as president of A&H and to become majority shareholder. Alternatively, he requested dissolution. Before the lawsuit, Chester owned 51% of A&H’s shares, and William owned 49%. After four years of litigation, the chancellor met William halfway, ordering a stock transfer that would have made William a 50% owner, equal with Chester, and directed William have equal say. The Mississippi Supreme Court gave deference to the equitable remedy the chancellor chose, because it was properly within his authority and discretion. Thus, the Supreme Court affirmed the chancellor's judgment. View "Boatright v. A & H Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Mississippi Department of Revenue (Department) conducted an audit of the Mississippi corporate tax returns of The Williams Companies, Inc. (Williams), for the years 2008 through 2010. During the course of the audit, Williams filed amended returns removing the capital of its single-member limited-liability companies (SMLLCs) from its calculation of capital employed in the state, seeking a refund of franchise tax in the amount of $981,419. After the Department’s review of Williams’ records and returns, the Department issued an assessment. The calculation included the capital of Williams’ SMLLCs in Williams’ Mississippi franchise-tax base. This resulted in a refund of $231,641. Williams objected, arguing it should not have been assessed a franchise-tax on capital employed by its Mississippi subsidiaries because of ambiguous language in the Mississippi franchise tax statutes. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the holding of the chancery court that Williams could not exclude the capital of its SMLLCs from its franchise-tax base. View "The Williams Companies, Inc. v. Mississippi Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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HWCC-Tunica, LLC, and BSLO, LLC, had casino members’ rewards programs that allowed members to earn entries into random computerized drawings to win prizes. In 2014, after recalculating their gross revenue and deducting the costs of prizes from their rewards programs’ drawings, HWCC and BSLO filed individual refund claims for the tax period of October 1, 2011, through August 31, 2014. The Mississippi Department of Revenue (MDOR) denied the refund claims in 2015. HWCC and BSLO appealed, and MDOR and the Mississippi Gaming Commission (MGC) filed a joint motion for summary judgment, arguing the plain language of Mississippi Code Section 75-76-193 (Rev. 2016) does not allow a casino to deduct the cost of prizes purchased for a rewards program’s drawings because “these promotional giveaways are not the result of ‘a legitimate wager’ as used in [Mississippi Code Section] 75-76-193.” After a hearing on the motion, the chancellor determined that Section 75-76-193 does not allow HWCC and BSLO to deduct the cost of the prizes and that there were no genuine issues of material fact. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found the chancellor erred by giving deference to the MDOR’s and the MGC’s interpretations of Code Section 75-76-193. That error notwithstanding, the Supreme Court found the chancellor reached the right conclusion: that no genuine issues of material fact existed. Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed the chancellor’s grant of summary judgment. View "HWCC-Tunica, Inc. v. Mississippi Dept. of Revenue" on Justia Law