Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

by
Rodney Fulgham argued that the trial judge erred by denying his motion to dismiss as suit brought by plaintiff, Clara Jackson. Fulgham contended Jackson failed to show good cause justifying a second enlargement of time to serve process. Finding no error with the trial judge determined as “good cause” for the enlargements of time, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed denial of Fulgham’s motion to dismiss. View "Fulgham v. Jackson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

by
The Mississippi Public Service Commission (MPSC) adopted a rule requiring utilities to waive utility deposits for certified domestic violence victims for a period of sixty days. The rule also required the utilities to keep the information regarding the domestic violence victims confidential and established penalties for violating that confidentiality. The Mississippi Rural Water Association, Inc. (“Water Association”) appealed, objecting to the promulgation of the new rule, but the chancery court affirmed the MPSC’s decision. The Mississippi Supreme Court found the MPSC lacked statutory authority to adopt any rule regulating the rates of nonprofit water utility associations and corporations. Accordingly, the Court reversed the order adopting the new rule and remanded this case to the MPSC for further proceedings. View "Mississippi Rural Water Association, Inc. v. Mississippi Public Service Comm'n" on Justia Law

by
Under Mississippi civil discovery rules, a party who fails to attend his own properly noticed deposition may be sanctioned. Here, the plaintiff in a will contest intentionally skipped out on his deposition. This prompted the chancellor to grant the defendant’s motion for sanctions, dismissing the will contest. While this sanction was harsh, the Mississippi Supreme Court concluded it was within the chancellor’s discretion to impose. The Court thus affirmed. View "In the Matter of the Estate of Robert Ernie Johnson" on Justia Law

by
An order of divorce was entered in 2008. This case made its third trip to the Mississippi Supreme Court. Drake Lewis appealed two issues: (1) the order of divorce should have been voided due to a lack of jurisdiction and that the chancellor erred in finding that he resided in Harrison County (he claimed improper venue for the suit); and (2) the chancellor erred in entering an order of contempt against him. Finding no error, the Court affirmed the judgment of the chancellor on both issues. View "Lewis v. (Lewis) Pagel" on Justia Law

by
This election contest arose out of the November 4, 2014, general election for the circuit judge seat in Mississippi’s eleventh circuit district, subdistrict 3. Charles Webster received 3,255 votes, whereas Chaka Smith received 2,369 votes. Of the total votes cast, 390 were cast by absentee ballot. Webster received 296 of the absentee ballots and Smith received the remaining 94. After the election had been certified, Smith conducted statutory examinations of the ballot boxes. During the examinations, Smith requested to photocopy or scan the contents of the ballot boxes. The Coahoma, Quitman, and Tunica County circuit clerks denied these requests. Smith filed a petition in the Quitman County Circuit Court seeking both declaratory relief and to contest the election, seeking a declaration on whether he had the right to make copies of election documents before contesting the election. In addition, Smith argued most of the absentee ballots violated Mississippi law and were comingled to the extent that illegal absentee ballots could not be separated from legal ones. Webster successfully moved for summary judgment; the trial court found no genuine issue of material fact existed regarding which candidate received the most votes in the election. Smith appealed. Finding no error in the grant of summary judgment in favor of Webster, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Smith v. Webster" on Justia Law

by
The parties ultimately agreed to an irreconcilable differences divorce, with the chancery court to decide certain issues: child custody, visitation, equitable division of property and attorney fees. The bulk of Candice Ballard’s appeal centered on the court’s order denying her custody of the parties’ three minor children based upon the chancery court’s determination that both Candice and Marshall Ballard were “unfit” and that neither should be awarded custody pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 93-5-24-(9)(a)(ii) (the “family-violence presumption”). The chancery court awarded custody to the Mississippi Department of Human Services but placed the children with Marshall’s parents. Candice challenged the custody decision, arguing the chancellor relied strictly on hearsay to establish her “unfitness” and history of family violence. She also argued the chancery court erred in dividing the marital estate and awarding attorney’s fees. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and remanded with respect to the issues of custody and division of the marital estate; with respect to fees, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Ballard v. Ballard" on Justia Law

by
Leslie Shumake appealed a Chancery Court judgment that found him in contempt for failure to pay his alimony obligations, denied his motion to modify alimony, and placed an equitable lien on his law practice to secure the payment of future alimony. Shumake argued that the chancellor erred by imposing the equitable lien, abused his discretion by failing to grant the motion to modify alimony, erred by rejecting his inability-to-pay defense to the contempt action, erred in the award of attorney fees, and erred by awarding Ms. Shumake the unpaid balance of the arrearage on the parties’ former first mortgage. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed on all issues except the chancellor’s award of attorney fees for Ms. Shumake’s successful contempt action. The Court reversed the attorney fee award and remanded for the chancellor to subtract the fees attributable to Ms. Shumake’s defense of Mr. Shumake’s modification action. View "Shumake v. Shumake" on Justia Law

by
Dr. Andy Barlow was disciplined by the Mississippi State Board of Chiropractic Examiners for advertising in violation of the statutes governing chiropractors. The complaint alleged that Dr. Barlow advertised using professional designations other than “chiropractor,” “doctor of chiropractic,” “D.C.,” or “chiropractic physician”; Dr. Barlow advertised as D.C., and also as DACNB, FACFN, and as a “Chiropractic Neurologist.” The Board levied a monetary penalty plus the costs of his prosecution. The circuit court affirmed the Board, and Dr. Barlow appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court, alleging that the statute governing chiropractic advertising had been implicitly amended or repealed, that the statute governing chiropractic advertising violated his First Amendment rights, and that the Board was without authority to assess the costs of the investigation to him. Furthermore, he argued the circuit court erred by failing to afford him a “de novo appeal.” Because Dr. Barlow’s arguments on whether he should be disciplined lack merit, the Court affirmed the judgments of the Board and circuit court on those issues. However, because the Board lacked authority to directly assess Dr. Barlow the costs of its investigation, the Court reversed on the issue of costs. View "Barlow v. Miss.State Bd. of Chiropractic Examiners" on Justia Law

by
Former construction worker, Robert Lee Rankin Sr., sued American Optical Corporation (AO) alleging an injury of “lung disease and silica related conditions caused by exposure to respirable crystalline silica” while using defective respirators manufactured by AO. A jury returned a total verdict of $14 million in favor of Rankin. AO filed a motion to amend the judgment and a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or, alternatively, for a new trial. The trial court granted AO’s motion to amend the judgment in part and amended the noneconomic damages award from $1.8 million to $1 million to comply with the statutory cap on noneconomic damages. However, the trial court denied AO’s motion for a JNOV or, alternatively, for a new trial. AO argued the trial court erred by failing to grant its motion for a directed verdict because Rankin’s claims were barred by the three-year statute of limitations. AO contended Rankin’s claims accrued when he was diagnosed with COPD in November 2007 or, at the latest, in January 2010 when his x-ray revealed “pulmonary fibrotic pathology.” The special verdict form posed the question, “Do you find by a preponderance of the evidence that [Rankin] knew or should have known before May 13, 2010, that he had the lung injury alleged in this lawsuit?” To this, the jury answered “No.” Rankin argued that “under the unique facts of this case, [he] invoked his right to file suit even though he had not yet received a full diagnosis - only a strong suspicion he was exhibiting signs of silicosis.” The Mississippi Supreme Court found that reasonable minds could not have differed in answering the question on the special verdict form: it was undisputed that Rankin was aware of and sought treatment for lung disease, COPD, in 2007. Rankin’s experts opined that Rankin’s myriad of remaining medical conditions, of which he was aware and for which he sought treatment before May 13, 2010, were related “in part” or “exacerbated” by silica exposure. Accordingly, the Court held the trial court erred by failing to grant AO’s motion for a directed verdict because Rankin’s claims were time barred. View "American Optical Corp. v. Estate of Robert Rankin, Sr." on Justia Law

by
The issue this medical-malpractice suit presented for the Supreme Court's review of Dr. Fawaz Abdraddo’s and Hinds Behavioral Health Services’ interlocutory appeal was whether the trial court erred in denying defendants' motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff Audray Johnson, acting pro se, filed suit against the defendants claiming he suffered permanent damage to his kidneys due to lithium treatment he received while under the psychiatric care of Dr. Abdraddo, who was working under contract for Hinds Behavioral Health Services. Finding that Plaintiff failed to support his medical-malpractice claims with expert testimony on whether the defendants breached any applicable standard of care owed to Johnson, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s denial of summary judgment and rendered judgment in favor of defendants. View "Abdrabbo v. Johnson" on Justia Law