Justia Mississippi Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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Penn-Star Insurance Company (Penn-Star) appealed a trial court’s denial of its motion for summary judgment. The Mississippi Supreme Court found after review of the trial court record that because the commercial general liability policy at issue did not cover the sustained losses, the trial court’s order was reversed, judgment was rendered in favor of Penn-Star, and this case was remanded to the trial court for consideration of the remaining issues. View "Penn-Star Insurance Company v. Thompson, et al." on Justia Law

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Richard Biddle and Brian Biddle questioned whether the Chancery Court of Tishomingo County, Mississippi had jurisdiction over their father’s estate. Brian and Richard also appealed the chancery court’s finding that there was no evidence of undue influence by their stepmother. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found venue and jurisdiction were proper and that no evidence of undue influence was presented. View "In The Matter of The Estate of Frederick Adams Biddle" on Justia Law

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In this slip-and-fall case, the trial court denied the defendant business Dolgencorp’s summary judgment motion. The judge found there “may be a question of fact.” After de novo review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found clear that plaintiff Patsy Payton failed to present sufficient evidence to establish a material fact issue as to whether the alleged dangerous condition, Carpet Fresh powder on the floor of the main aisle of a Dollar General store, had existed long enough on the ground for the store to have constructive knowledge of the spill. The only evidence Payton produced was her deposition testimony that no other customer was in the store when she arrived. And soon after arriving, she slipped and fell, implying that the substance must have been spilled sometime before she entered the store. Payton admitted she had only been in the store less than a minute when she fell. On these facts, the Supreme Court found Payton's claims failed, and reversed the trial court's denial of Dolgencorp's motion. View "Dolgencorp, LLC v. Payton" on Justia Law

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Gulf South Pipeline Company, LLC owned an underground natural gas storage facility in Rankin County, Mississippi. It owned additional properties that ran through thirty-two Mississippi counties. As a public service corporation with property situated in more than one Mississippi county, property belonging to Gulf South was assessed centrally by the Mississippi Department of Revenue rather than by individual county tax assessors. After conducting the central assessment, MDOR apportions the tax revenues among the several counties in which the property is located. A significant amount of the natural gas stored in Gulf South’s Rankin County facility is owned by Gulf South’s customers and, therefore, it is excluded from MDOR’s central assessment. The Rankin County tax assessor requested that Gulf South disclose the volume of natural gas owned by each of its customers. Following Gulf South’s refusal to provide these data, in September 2021 the Rankin County tax assessor gave notice of its intention to assess Gulf South more than sixteen million dollars for approximately four billion cubic feet of natural gas stored by Gulf South but owned by its customers. Gulf South filed suit at the Chancery Court in Hinds County, seeking to enjoin the assessment and seeking a declaratory judgment that MDOR was the exclusive entity with the authority to assess a public service corporation with property located in more than one Mississippi county. On interlocutory appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court was asked to determine whether venue was proper in Hinds County when Rankin County was named as a defendant and MDOR was joined as a necessary party. The Court held that, under the venue provisions of Mississippi Code Section 11-45-17 and the Court’s consistent construction of these statutory provisions as mandatory and controlling, venue was proper only in Rankin County. Therefore, the chancellor erred by denying Rankin County’s motion to transfer venue. View "Rankin County v. Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, L.P., et al." on Justia Law

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The plaintiffs were the wrongful-death beneficiaries of a man killed in an apartment fire and two other people injured in the same fire. The fire occurred at an apartment complex in Pike County, Mississippi. The plaintiffs sued the apartment complex’s management company, Alpha Management Corporation, which had its principal place of business in Madison County. And they also named as a defendant the purported property owner, Community Park Apartments, Inc. (CPA). At the time the complaint was filed, the Mississippi Secretary of State’s website listed CPA as having its principal office in Hinds County. So the plaintiffs filed suit in Hinds County. The controlling issue in this interlocutory appeal is fraudulent joinder—did the plaintiffs join a defendant for the sole purpose of establishing venue in Hinds County? Alpha Management asserted that CPA did not own the apartments. And because CPA was not a proper defendant, Alpha Management moved that venue be transferred from Hinds County to Pike County or Madison County. CPA similarly filed a motion to dismiss, attaching a copy of the same warranty deed showing it had sold the apartments in 1975 and then ceased to operate as a nonprofit corporation. Hinds County Circuit Court denied both motions. The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s ruling and remanded with instructions to dismiss CPA as a defendant and transfer the case to either Madison County or Pike County. View "Alpha Management Corporation, et al. v. Harris, et al." on Justia Law

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The Board of Supervisors for Lowndes County appealed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the Lowndes County School District. The Board argued that the trial court erred in its interpretation of Mississippi Code Section 37-57-107(1) (Rev. 2014) and that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to review the Board’s September 15, 2020 decision to exclude $3,352,0751 from the District’s requested ad valorem tax effort. The Mississippi Supreme Court found that the District appealed the decision of a county board of supervisors. As such, the District’s exclusive remedy was Section 11-51-75. Because the District failed to meet these requirements and because Section 11-51-75 was the District’s exclusive remedy, the chancery court was without jurisdiction to hear this matter and issue a declaratory judgment. Therefore, the trial court’s grant of summary judgment was reversed, and the matter remanded to the chancery court for it to enter an order dismissing the case for lack of jurisdiction. View "Board of Supervisors for Lowndes County v. Lowndes County School District" on Justia Law

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The taxpayer, Saltwater Sportsman Outfitters, LLC (SSO), was a one-man operation that sold clothing online and at trade shows, conventions, and other events. SSO kept few records of what it had sold or where, though its sole member testified that most of its sales occurred out of state. After an audit, the Mississippi Department of Revenue (MDOR) assessed additional sales tax liability, ultimately settling on about $80,000 based on the disparity between SSO’s wholesale purchases and the sales taxes it had paid in Mississippi and other states. MDOR’s assessment was appealed to the circuit court, which granted summary judgment in favor of MDOR. SSO appealed. The Mississippi Supreme Court concluded that SSO’s failure to keep adequate records rendered MDOR’s assessment presumptively correct. The Court found no merit to SSO’s various arguments on appeal, including that the promoters of the events at which SSO sold were the true parties liable for the taxable sales. The Court therefore affirmed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment. View "Saltwater Sportsman Outfitters, LLC v. Mississippi Dept. of Revenue" on Justia Law

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Amanda Bryant filed suit against State Farm Automobile Insurance Company (State Farm) and its attorneys, Henley, Lotterhos & Henley, PLLC (HLH), claiming negligence, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, and intentional infliction of emotional distress based on HLH’s actions in a prior subrogation claim. HLH argued in a Motion to Dismiss or, In the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment that it was not a proper party to this lawsuit because it was the legal representative of the adverse party in the prior subrogation matter. For this reason, HLH argued it did not owe a duty to Bryant that could give rise to tort liability. The trial court disagreed with HLH and denied its motion. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted HLH’s petition for interlocutory appeal. Based on caselaw, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s order and rendered judgment in favor of HLH. Because State Farm was still party to the action, the case was remanded to the trial court for continuation of the proceedings. View "Henley, Lotterhos & Henley, PLLC v. Bryant" on Justia Law

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Kia Jones filed a letter of intent with the Mississippi Democratic Party to seek that party’s nomination for a seat in the Mississippi House of Representatives for District 64 on February 1, 2023. Shanda Yates filed a residency challenge to determine whether Jones qualified to seek office. Because Jones did not reside in the district for two years, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s decision disqualifying her. View "Jones v. Yates" on Justia Law

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Amanda Gunasekara sought to run in the Republican primary election for Public Service Commissioner, District 3 (Northern District). Matthew Barton, a candidate for district attorney in Desoto County, challenged her qualifications to run for commissioner and, specifically, whether she had been a citizen of Mississippi for five years prior to the election date. The trial court found that Gunasekara had not met the citizenship requirement and disqualified her as a candidate. The Mississippi Supreme Court found that the trial court did not manifestly err by holding that Gunasekara failed to meet the residency requirements for the office of Public Service Commission. Therefore, it affirmed the circuit court's decision. View "Gunasekara v. Barton, et al." on Justia Law