Justia Mississippi Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Government & Administrative Law
City of Ocean Springs v. Illanne, et al.
A group of residents (“the Neighbors”) appealed three separate zoning decisions of the City of Ocean Springs Board of Alderman to the Jackson County Circuit Court. The circuit court, sitting as an appellate court pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 11-51-75 (Rev. 2019), consolidated the appeals and reversed the City’s zoning decisions in two of the appeals and remanded the first appeal to the City board. The City then appealed whether the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to review the decisions when W. Lee Brumfield, who was an applicant before the City, was not included as a party to the Neighbors’ appeal. Due to the Mississippi Supreme Court’s intervening decision in Longo v. City of Waveland, 353 So. 3d 437 (Miss. 2022), and the fact that the circuit court did not address the issue in its ruling, the Supreme Court found that Brumfield’s status as a petitioner could not be determined at this point. The case was remanded to the circuit court for a factual determination as to whether Brumfield is a petitioner under Section 11-51-75. View "City of Ocean Springs v. Illanne, et al." on Justia Law
Moton v. City of Clarksdale
Former City of Clarksdale Commissioner Charles Moton alleged that his December 2013 and May 2015 arrests at Clarksdale city commissioners meetings were in violation of "a litany" of his state constitutional rights. The trial court dismissed Moton’s claims because he failed to file suit within the statute of limitations. Finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "Moton v. City of Clarksdale" on Justia Law
North Bolivar Consolidated School District v. Jones
In 2019, after Roosevelt Jones paid his annual rent more than thirty days late, the North Bolivar Consolidated School District, pursuant to a late penalty provision contained in the lease between the parties, assessed Jones a late fee for $11,028.60. Jones filed suit arguing, amongst other things, that the district should be estopped from enforcing the late payment penalty provision because it had a custom of accepting late rent payments without penalty. Jones argued he relied on the custom to his detriment when making his rent payment late. In August 2021, the school district moved for summary judgment, arguing that it could not be estopped by the unauthorized acts of its officials. The chancellor found that the district had failed to show the acts of its officials in accepting the late payments were not authorized. The school district sought interlocutory appeal of the denial of summary judgment, and was granted. The Mississippi Supreme Court concluded the school district was a trustee of sixteenth section school lands and, consequently, bore a statutory duty to collect all funds due from the sixteenth section properties that it leased. Any past failure by it to collect such funds was unauthorized as a matter of law and could not form the basis for estoppel. Therefore, the Supreme Court reversed the chancery court’s judgment and rendered judgment in favor of the school district. View "North Bolivar Consolidated School District v. Jones" on Justia Law
City of Jackson v. Cities of Pearl & Flowood, & Rankin County, Mississippi
Pursuant to Mississippi Code Sections 61-9-1 to -9 (Rev. 2022) the City of Jackson passed an ordinance on August 6, 2019, to incorporate land in Rankin County that surrounded what was known as the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport. Rankin County, the City of Pearl and the City of Flowood appealed the ordinance; the trial court declared the ordinance void because Jackson had failed to obtain the consent and approval of the Rankin County Board of Supervisors before passing the ordinance. Jackson appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court claiming that the trial court erred by finding that approval of the Rankin County Board of Supervisors was required. The Supreme Court found the ordinance void and affirmed the circuit court's judgment. View "City of Jackson v. Cities of Pearl & Flowood, & Rankin County, Mississippi" on Justia Law
City of Canton Board of Aldermen v. Slaughter, et al.
This case concerned the removal of two commissioners of the Canton Municipal Utilities Commission (CMU Commission) by the City of Canton Board of Aldermen (the Board). The Mayor of Canton vetoed a resolution of the Board issuing notice and an opportunity to be heard to the commissioners. The Board claimed to override the veto by a vote of two-thirds of the majority of members, although in actuality it failed for lack of the requisite majority. It then proceeded with a hearing and ultimately removed the commissioners from their appointed positions. The decision of the Board was appealed. The circuit court reversed the decision to remove the commissioners, finding that the Board failed to override the Mayor’s veto and that the actions taken to remove the commissioners following the failure to override the veto were void as a matter of law. The Board appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court, claiming the commissioners’ notice of appeal contained fatal jurisdictional errors, notice and an opportunity to be heard were not required for the removal to be effective and the Board properly overrode the Mayor’s veto. After a careful review of the law, the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's judgment. View "City of Canton Board of Aldermen v. Slaughter, et al." on Justia Law
Lumumba v. City Council of Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson, Mississippi Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba attempted to veto the Jackson City Council’s refusal to approve the Mayor’s preferred garbage collection contract. The issue this case presented for the Mississippi Supreme Court's review was whether a mayor, in his restricted executive power, could override by veto a negative action of a city council. The Supreme Court found he could not, and upheld the trial court's judgment. View "Lumumba v. City Council of Jackson, Mississippi" on Justia Law
Mississippi v. RW Development, LLC, et al.
The City of Biloxi and Harrison County, Mississippi adopted a joint resolution that authorized the lease of a piece of property to RW Development, LLC, for the development of a joint public/private pier seaward of Veterans Avenue. As a result, the State initiated this case seeking a declaratory judgment that the State was the sole and exclusive authority to lease Public Trust Tidelands, that the City had no authority to lease the subject property to RW, and that preliminary and permanent injunctive relief should issue against the actions of the City and RW. The Chancery Court of Harrison County denied the State’s requested relief and ultimately determined that the City and County had statutory authority to lease the property to RW for public use. Because the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed that Mississippi statutory law granted the City authority to build the pier, the court granted the chancery court's judgment. View "Mississippi v. RW Development, LLC, et al." on Justia Law
Heritage Hunter Knoll, LLC v. Lamar County, Mississippi
Heritage Hunter Knoll, LLC (Heritage), appeals the circuit court’s dismissal of its appeal for a lack of jurisdiction. The Lamar County Board of Supervisors (Board) amended the Unauthorized Dumping and Litter Ordinance (waste ordinance) to discontinue the county’s garbage collection service to multifamily residences, duplex developments, apartment complexes, and commercial properties. Notably, the amendment advised that “[a]ny citizen who [wa]s affected or aggrieved by this Ordinance may apply to the Lamar County Board of Supervisors (at its regularly scheduled meetings) for a Variance to the terms, provisions and applications of this Ordinance.” Heritage, a limited liability company, owned three properties in Lamar County: Hunter Lane, Heritage Cove, and Knoll Cutoff. Heritage received notice of the Board’s amendment to the waste ordinance by letter dated July 23, 2018. In August 2018, the Board passed a second, clarifying amendment to the waste ordinance. In September 2018, the Board approved Heritage’s variance request for the Knoll Cutoff property, but it denied the variance requests for Hunter Lane and Heritage Cove. Heritage did not appeal the Board’s amendment to the waste ordinance or the Board’s denial of its variance requests. In January 2019, the county implemented the amended waste ordinance. On February 1, 2019, Heritage filed suit in federal court claiming that the Board’s amendment to the waste ordinance was unlawful and that it violated Heritage’s constitutional rights. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined Heritage’s appeal was untimely as to the amendment to the waste ordinance but timely as to the Board’s denial of Heritage’s variance requests. The circuit court’s judgment of dismissal was affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part. View "Heritage Hunter Knoll, LLC v. Lamar County, Mississippi" on Justia Law
Lee v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company
Niyokia Lee and James Cooper sustained damages in separate, independent automobile accidents caused by negligent city emergency responders. Lee’s accident happened in Harrison County, and Cooper’s happened in Rankin County. The Mississippi Tort Claims Act afforded immunity to the negligent police officer, the fireman, and the governmental entities employing them. Because Lee and Cooper could not recover from the responders or municipalities, both sought recovery under their car insurance policies’ uninsured motorist provisions. Lee and Cooper had the same UM coverage carrier—State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. And State Farm denied UM coverage to both, citing Mississippi Code Section 83-11-101(1) of Mississippi’s Uninsured Motorist Act. As State Farm saw it, because the officer and fireman enjoyed police and fire protection immunity under the MTCA, neither policyholder was legally entitled to recover from the immune responders or their city employers. State Farm thus denied UM coverage to Lee and Cooper despite the fact that, in 2009, the state legislature had revised Mississippi Code Section 83-11-103(c) of the UM Act by adding a new subsection expanding the definition of “uninsured motor vehicle” to include “[a] motor vehicle owned or operated by a person protected by immunity under the [MTCA.]” The two trial courts considering the UM coverage issue reached opposite results. The Harrison County Circuit Court granted summary judgment in State Farm’s favor and dismissed Lee’s claims against State Farm, finding because the officer was immune, Lee was not "legally entitled to recover" and consequently, was not eligible for UM coverage. The Rankin County Court granted summary judgment in Cooper’s favor, against State Farm, ruling UM coverage did apply because, otherwise, the 2009 amendment to the UM Act, which expanded the definition of “uninsured motor vehicle” to include vehicles operated by persons who are immune under the MTCA, would be "rendered virtually meaningless." The Mississippi Supreme Court consolidating the two cases found that the plain language of the two provisions made it apparent that Lee and Cooper were entitled to UM coverage. It therefore reversed and remanded the decision of the Harrison County Circuit Court, and affirmed and remanded the decision of the Rankin County Circuit Court. View "Lee v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company" on Justia Law
Carr v. Mississippi Lottery Corporation
In a matter of first impression before the Mississippi Supreme Court, the issue presented for review required an interpretation and application of the federal Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d). Jonathan Carr registered five domain names that included variations of the identifying marks of the Mississippi Lottery Corporation (MLC). After an unfavorable decision from a national arbitration board, Carr brought a reverse domain name hijacking claim against the MLC, which countersued for cybersquatting. The Mississippi Supreme Court dismissed Carr’s first appeal in this case for lack of a final appealable judgment. Carr appealed the trial judge’s Order Granting and Denying Motions for Injunctive Relief, Order on Motion for New Trial, or In the Alternative, Motion for a Trial By Jury, and Order on Motion for New Trial and/or In the Alternative, to Alter or Amend the Judgment. After a careful review of federal and state law, the Supreme Court affirmed the decisions of the trial court on all issues. View "Carr v. Mississippi Lottery Corporation" on Justia Law