Articles Posted in Civil Litigation

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Plaintiffs Frank Schmidt Sr. and other former parishioners of the St. Paul Catholic Church in Pass Christian appealed the second dismissal with prejudice of their claims against the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi, Inc., Most Reverend Thomas J. Rodi, and Rev. Dennis Carver. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The storm caused extensive damage to the St. Paul Catholic Church and its ancillary properties. The actual church building was also damaged, although the extent of the damage is disputed by the parties. Plaintiffs insisted that the church remains structurally sound, that many of its sacred articles were unharmed, and that repair costs should be less than $2.5 million. Church Defendants maintain that the church and its most sacred places were “destroyed in large part.” Bishop Rodi issued a decree merging the St. Paul and Our Lady of Lourdes Parishes to form a new parish called the Holy Family Parish. The decree stated that the Holy Family Parish would maintain two church edifices, St. Paul Church and Our Lady of Lourdes Church. A number of St. Paul’s former parishioners, including some of the Plaintiffs in this case, filed a canonical appeal through the Roman Catholic Church’s ecclesiastical tribunals. In 2007, the Vatican issued a decree which stated that Bishop Rodi had acted in accordance with the requirements and procedures set forth under canon law. While the canonical appeal was pending, 157 former parishioners filed suit asserting, in part, that Bishop Rodi held the St. Paul Church property in trust for the members, that any financial contributions designated for reconstruction of the church were held in trust for that particular purpose, that Church Defendants had violated said trusts, and that Father Carver had made misrepresentations in soliciting donations for the rebuilding efforts. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed in part, finding that Plaintiffs lacked standing to assert the St. Paul property was held in trust for their benefit. However, the Court reversed and remanded the chancellor’s dismissal of the diversion-of-designated funds claim, as well as the claim against Father Carver for intentional misrepresentation, finding subject-matter jurisdiction existed over these claims. On remand, the chancellor denied Plaintiffs’ motions for additional discovery and granted Church Defendants’ motion for summary judgment, dismissing Plaintiffs’ claims with prejudice. Plaintiffs argued on appeal that the chancellor erred in dismissing their claims for diversion of designated funds and intentional misrepresentation. Because none of the Plaintiffs established the requisite elements for a diversion of designated funds, the Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment on this issue. In addition, because no Plaintiffs could establish a claim for intentional misrepresentation, the Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment on this issue. Therefore, the Court affirmed the Chancery Court's judgment. View "Kinney v. Catholic Diocese of Biloxi, Inc." on Justia Law

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Carl Brady fell and injured himself while roller skating at Extreme Skate Zone in 2009. Extreme Skate Zone was a nonentity owned by Lewis Entertainment, Inc. at the time of Carl’s fall. As a result of the fall, the Bradys sued Oak Grove Skating Rink, Inc., Extreme Skate Zone, and John Does A through Z on the final day of the statute-of-limitations period. Oak Grove, a prior owner of Extreme, had no affiliation with Lewis. The court clerk issued a summons for both Oak Grove and Extreme. A summons was never issued for Lewis, as it was never named as a defendant. In an interlocutory appeal, Lewis Entertainment, Inc., challenged the trial court’s denial of its motion to dismiss based on Carl and Carrie Brady’s failure to serve it timely with process. The Bradys did not name Lewis Entertainment, Inc., as a defendant or to serve it with process. Their repeated attempts knowingly to serve an unrelated entity did not constitute good cause. The Bradys’ case should have been dismissed, and, because the statute-of-limitations period expired in 2012, the dismissal should have been with prejudice. The trial court's order was reversed, and judgment was rendered in favor of Lewis Entertainment, Inc. View "Lewis Entertainment, Inc. v. Brady" on Justia Law

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Rickesha Larry filed suit against Hospital M.D., LLC, and Hospital M.D. of Yazoo City, Inc. (collectively Hospital M.D.) in a medical-malpractice action. Hospital M.D. moved for summary judgment, arguing Larry had failed to provide it with notice pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 15-1-36(15); thus the sixty-day tolling period was not triggered and the statute of limitations had expired prior to Larry filing her initial complaint. The trial court denied Hospital M.D.’s motion for summary judgment and entered two orders. Hospital M.D. filed an interlocutory appeal to the Supreme Court. Upon review, the Court found that the motion should have been granted because Larry failed to send Hospital M.D. the statutorily required pre-suit notice and subsequently filed her complaint outside the applicable statute of limitations. Furthermore, the Court concluded the medical-malpractice-discovery rule did not serve to toll the two-year statute of limitations. View "Hospital MD, LLC v. Larry" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a wrongful death suit against Illinois Central for the death of their father. The case was dismissed because the three-year statute of limitations had run. Plaintiffs appealed, claiming that the statute of limitations had not expired, because it was tolled while the first suit, filed by the plaintiffs’ mother, was pending. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the case on the grounds that, because the doctrine of equitable tolling did not apply, the statute of limitations had expired by the time plaintiffs filed the second complaint. View "Burch v. Illinois Central Railroad Company" on Justia Law

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Michael Crawford sued defendants Alex Jordan, Morris Transportation, and Custom Sign Company (Custom) based on a motor vehicle accident. Initially, Crawford filed a petition to perpetuate testimony to depose Jordan and Morris Transportation in an attempt to identify any additional defendants. The case was removed to federal court. After removal, Crawford filed a complaint in federal court. Crawford subsequently was granted leave from the federal court to file a complaint in the Circuit Court of Coahoma County against Jordan, Morris, and Custom. The case was later dismissed by the federal court based on premature removal since removal occurred before Crawford had filed a complaint. Thereafter, Crawford filed an amended complaint in circuit court, styled as a separate cause of action. Defendants then moved to have both the original complaint and first amended complaint dismissed based on the argument that the federal-court action was dismissed rather than remanded, which would bar Crawford from proceeding on either complaint in circuit court. Alternatively, Defendants asserted that the suit was barred by the general three-year statute of limitations. Defendants also alleged that the one-year savings statue did not apply because the federal court granted Crawford's voluntary motion to dismiss, which was not a dismissal for a matter of form in accordance with Mississippi Code Section 15-1-69. The trial court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss with prejudice, and Crawford appealed. The Supreme Court reversed the dismissal, finding that the federal court's dismissal was for a matter of form (lack of subject-matter jurisdiction). The Mississippi Supreme Court also found that the original complaint filed during Crawford's leave from federal court was a nullity, since the case ultimately was dismissed rather than remanded by the federal court. Nevertheless, the first amended complaint was filed after the federal court's dismissal; therefore, it was deemed valid and timely filed within one year after the dismissal; thus the savings statute applied. Accordingly, the case was remanded. On remand, Crawford settled with Jordan and Morris Transportation. Custom filed its answer and motion for summary judgment, submitting that Crawford's claims were barred by the statute of repose. The trial court granted Custom's motion based on the statute of repose being applicable. Crawford unsuccessfully moved for reconsideration, and thereafter appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing: (1) the statute of repose does not apply in this case; or alternatively, (2) Custom waived the right to such defense. Finding this cause of action should be reversed and remanded for further factual determinations regarding the applicability of the statute of repose, the Supreme Court concluded the trial court erred in granting summary judgment when genuine issues of material fact existed and needed resolution before ruling out the statute of repose argument.View "Crawford v. Custom Sign Company" on Justia Law

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This case arose from Quizzie Manning's 2008 visit to the King's Daughters Medical Center's emergency room. Manning alleged she sustained injuries as a result of the Center's negligence during that visit. The issue this case presented to the Supreme Court was whether the circuit court abused its discretion by dismissing Manning's case with prejudice. Upon review of the facts of this case and the circuit court record, the Supreme Court concluded the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing Manning's case. Therefore, the Court affirmed the circuit court's decision. View "Manning v. King's Daughters Medical Center" on Justia Law

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The trial court granted plaintiff Karen Richardson’s motion to reinstate a negligence action arising out of a 2001 automobile accident involving a truck owned by defendant Entergy Mississippi, Inc. Richardson’s action had been dismissed for failure to prosecute. Upon review of the appeal, the Supreme Court found that the trial court erred in granting the motion to reinstate. While the statute of limitations did not operate to preclude an evaluation of the merits for equitable relief under Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), no valid Rule 60(b) grounds existed for granting relief from the dismissal of the action. The case was appropriately dismissed for failure to prosecute and no extraordinary circumstances were present to justify reinstatement. The judgment of the Circuit Court granting reinstatement was therefore reversed and the case dismissed without prejudice. View "Entergy Mississippi, Inc. v. Richardson" on Justia Law

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David "Junior" Kimbrough died in 1998, leaving his entire estate to his long-time girlfriend, Mildred Washington. Matthew Johnson was named executor of the estate. Johnson petitioned the court to probate Kimbrough's will. Contestants filed to contest the will, and no other entries were filed during the next ten years. In September 2008, an entry of appearance was entered on behalf of four remaining contestants, which was followed by an entry of appearance on behalf of Johnson. In 2009, the chancery court denied Executor's Rule 41(b) motion to dismiss, granted Contestants’ motion to compel discovery, granted Contestants’ motion to remove executor, and appointed the chancery clerk of Marshall County as executor. Johnson then filed his motion to dismiss alleging a violation of Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 4(h), because Washington was served process almost eleven years after the commencement of the action. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss, but it granted a stay of the proceedings pending petition for interlocutory appeal to the Supreme Court, which was subsequently denied. A trial on the matter was held in 2012. After Contestants rested their case, Proponents moved the trial court for dismissal, and the chancellor ultimately granted their motion and dismissed the case. Contestants appealed to the Supreme Court, raising nine issues all pertaining to the validity of the will, and whether the trial court erred in granting Proponents' Rule 41(b) motion to dismiss. After review of the matter, the Supreme Court concluded the chancellor did not abuse his discretion in granting Proponents' Mississippi Rules Civil Procedure 41(b) motion to dismiss. Therefore, the Court affirmed the decision of the chancery court.View "Kimbrough v. Estate of David Kimbrough" on Justia Law