Justia Mississippi Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law
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The City of Biloxi (City), the Secretary of State on behalf of the State of Mississippi (State), and the Board of Trustees of the State Institutes of Higher Learning (IHL) settled an ownership dispute over coastal property leased to a casino, and agreed how to divide the annual casino rent. Seventeen years later, the City asked the chancery court to declare that it could adjust for inflation its base amount of rent received before divvying up its rent with the State and the IHL. But the City’s only support of its new inflation-adjustment claim was the three public entities’ lease with the casino. While the casino lease required the minimum amount of rent owed be adjusted for inflation every five years, the casino lease did not govern how the City, the State, and the IHL were to divide the rent. Instead, the manner in which rent was divided is governed solely by the settlement agreement. And the settlement agreement was silent with respect to an inflation adjustment. The Mississippi Supreme Court found, however, the agreement was clear: the City received a specific sum, and any rent in excess of that exact amount had to be shared with the State and the IHL. View "In the Matter of The Stewardship of the Public Trust Tidelands" on Justia Law

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A tax sale was found void due to the Jackson County, Mississippi Chancery Clerk's failure to comply with the notice requirements of Mississippi Code Section 27-43-3 (Rev. 2017). After Deborah Hallford came home to find that her locks had been changed, she went to the tax collector’s office and learned that the issue was delinquent property tax. Hallford had never received notice in person or through certified mail that the redemption period on her property was soon expiring. Hallford filed a complaint seeking to set aside the tax sale of her property to Pierre Thoden, d/b/a ETC FBO Pierre H. Thoden IRA 47473. The chancery court set aside the tax sale and awarded Thoden the amount he paid for the property at the tax sale, plus interest. Thoden, believing he was owed for the taxes he paid on the property in the years following his purchase at the tax sale and for the value of the improvements he made on the land, appealed. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the chancellor’s decision to void the tax sale for lack of notice. This matter was remanded for a hearing on any damages, statutory and otherwise, to which Thoden was entitled. View "Thoden d/b/a ETC FBO Pierre H. Thoden IRA 47473 v. Hallford" on Justia Law

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The Speaker of the Mississippi House or Representatives and the Speaker Pro Tempore alleged the Governor "ignored the dictates of [the Mississippi] Constitution, and exceeded his authority to strike parts of House Bill 1782 to partially veto appropriation bills. The Governor denies his acts were unconstitutional. Having reviewed the record of the chancery court proceeding, pertinent sections of the Mississippi Constitution, and case law addressing partial vetoes, the Mississippi Supreme Court concluded the Governor did not exceed the power of his office. "His partial veto comports with section 73 of our Constitution and therefore carried with it the authority endowed that office by the people of Mississippi." Accordingly, the judgment of the chancery court holding otherwise was reversed. View "Reeves v. Gunn" on Justia Law

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Robert Sharp shot and killed John Gorman during a firearm-training exercise ("a multitude of lapses in safety protocols"). Sharp and Gorman were employees of the Mississippi Gaming Commission and were acting in the course and scope of their employment. The Commission Shooting Review Board concluded that the incident “was an accidental discharge of an agency weapon,” it also concluded that the “failure to follow the prescribed policies, procedures and lesson plans” was the most significant contributing factor. After the incident, Gorman’s heirs began receiving automatic workers’ compensation payments. Each heir brought independent actions against the Commission that were later consolidated. Once consolidated, the Commission filed a joint motion for summary judgment in August 2017, stating the exclusivity of Mississippi Workers’ Compensation law barred further remedy. Gorman’s heirs opposed the motion by way of a pleading, memorandum, and a supplement with affidavits and admissions purportedly deemed admitted. The circuit court later granted summary judgment for the Commission. On appeal, the heirs argued: (1) the circuit court erred in determining the Workers' Compensation Act was the exclusive remedy to recover for the wrongful death of John Gorman; and (2) the circuit court erred in determining complete immunity applied regarding the Mississippi Tort Claims Act. Finding no triable issues of material fact in the record, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court. View "Estate of Gorman v. Mississippi Gaming Commission" on Justia Law

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Quality Choice Correctional Healthcare entered a contract with Hinds County, Mississippi to provide comprehensive medical care to inmates. Delorise Rollins was hired by Quality Choice as a nurse at the Hinds County Detention Center in Raymond and was injured in the course of her duties. At that time, Quality Choice did not carry workers’ compensation coverage. As a result, Rollins filed a petition to controvert with the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission. The Commission found that the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department (HCSD) was not Rollins’s statutory employer and denied workers’ compensation benefits. Rollins then appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the Commission’s decision. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted Rollins’s petition for writ of certiorari, and found that because the HCSD was not Rollins' statutory employer, workers’ compensation benefits were not available. The Court therefore affirmed decisions of the Court of Appeals and the Commission. View "Rollins v. Hinds County Sheriff's Department et al." on Justia Law

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Brian Carver was employed by the Jackson Police Department as a patrolman for twenty years. In 2004, Carver was involved in an officer-involved shooting in which he shot and killed a suspect. In 2011, Brian Carver applied for non-duty-related and duty-related disability benefits due to his suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder relating ot that 2004 shooting. The Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi “granted [Carver] non-duty related disability benefits but denied his request for duty-related disability benefits.” The denial by PERS was affirmed by the Disability Appeals Committee, the PERS Board of Trustees, the Hinds County Circuit Court, and the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals determined that “[a] plain-language reading of [Mississippi Code S]ection 25-11-114(7)(b) clearly distinguishes mental and physical disabilities.” The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed, finding that the plain language of Section 25-11-114(6) required, at the time Carver applied for benefits, a physical injury arising from an accident or traumatic event occurring in the line of duty. "Post-traumatic stress disorder may cause physiological changes to the brain and manifest in physiological symptoms; however, no physical injury occurred in the line of duty in the case sub judice. The PERS Board’s decision was not arbitrary or capricious, and it was based on substantial evidence." View "Carver v. Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi" on Justia Law

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In appeals consolidated for the Mississippi Supreme Court's review, the circuit court affirmed the decision of the Mississippi Gaming Commission (MGC) to deny the gaming site application of RW Development, LLC (RW). The MGC and the circuit court found that RW’s proposed gaming site failed to meet the governing statutory and regulatory requirements under Mississippi Code Section 97-33-1 (Rev. 2014) in the first instance, and 13 Mississippi Administrative Code Part 2, Rule 1.4(d) (adopted May 1, 2013), Westlaw, in the second. The Supreme Court concurred with the Commission and circuit court that: (1) in case No. 2019-SA-01813-SCT, RW failed to provide evidence that its proposed gaming site was within eight hundred feet of the MHWL; and (2) in case No. 2019-SA-01815-SCT, RW failed to establish that the mean high water line point of reference was located on RW’s premises, that RW owned or leased the land contiguous to the point of reference and its proposed gaming site, and that the land would play an integral part in RW's project. View "RW Development, LLC v. Mississippi Gaming Commission" on Justia Law

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The Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services (MDCPS) sought to terminate involuntarily the parental rights of Jack Bynum, the putative father of a child in MDCPS' custody. The chancery court determined Bynum was both indigent and entitled to counsel. The chancellor appointed Bynum counsel and ordered MDCPS to pay his attorney's fees. MDCPS appealed. The agency argued Covington County should have paid for Bynum’s representation, just as it would if Bynum were an indigent criminal defendant. But the Mississippi Supreme Court found this was not a criminal case. "And the statutory scheme that directs the initiating county in criminal prosecutions to pay for indigent representation is expressly limited. It only applies to those 'charged with a felony, misdemeanor punishable by confinement for ninety (90) days or more, or commission of an act of delinquency.'” Thus, absent a legislative directive to assess an indigent parent’s attorney’s fees to Covington County, the chancery court did not abuse its legislatively conferred discretion by ordering MDCPS to pay Bynum’s attorney’s fees. View "Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services v. Bynum" on Justia Law

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The case originated from an action brought by Bay Point Properties, Inc. against the Mississippi Transportation Commission in which Bay Point sought damages resulting from inverse condemnation. After the verdict, Bay Point filed a motion requesting attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses. The trial court awarded $500 in nominal damages and denied Bay Point’s request for attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses. Finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "Bay Point Properties, Inc. v. Mississippi Transportation Commission" on Justia Law

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Murphy Burnett was arrested and detained for several years. The State eventually moved to nolle prosequi its criminal case against Burnett, and he was released from detention. Burnett filed suit against several governmental entities based on torts connected to his arrest, prosecution, and detention. All the entities moved to dismiss based on a failure to file proper notices of claims and based on the statutes of limitation. The trial court granted these motions. Because proper notices of claims were not sent, because most of the claims were barred by one-year statutes of limitation, and because Burnett did not specifically raise the remaining claims on appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "Burnett v. Hinds County, Mississippi" on Justia Law