Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

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Plaintiffs John Davis and Shad Denson filed a complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the City of Jackson, Mississippi (“City”). The plaintiffs, both taxicab drivers, sought: (1) a declaratory judgment that the City’s taxicab ordinances violate the Mississippi Constitution; and (2) an injunction to prevent the City from denying the plaintiffs a Certificate of Public Necessity for their failure to comply with the City’s ordinances. The City filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, citing Mississippi Code Section 11-51-75 (Rev. 2012), which required a bill of exceptions to be filed and transferred to circuit court when the complaining party was aggrieved by a discretionary action of a municipal governing authority. The chancery court granted the City’s motion to dismiss, finding it lacked jurisdiction to consider the case. The plaintiffs appealed. The Mississippi Supreme Court found the dismissal for lack of jurisdiction was proper, but for a different reason: plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the constitutionality of the City’s taxi ordinances because they failed to file or complete the required application to start a taxicab company in Jackson. View "Davis v. City of Jackson" on Justia Law

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Bettye Logan sustained a compensable leg injury while employed at Klaussner Furniture Corporation d/b/a Bruce Furniture Industries (“Klaussner”). An Administrative Judge (“AJ”), and the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission (“Commission”), found that Logan had suffered a sixty-percent loss of industrial use to her left lower extremity, which entitled her to 105 weeks of compensation set at $331.06 for her “scheduled-member” injury under Mississippi Code Section 71-3-17(c)(2). Logan appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the Commission and the AJ had applied the incorrect part of Section 71-3-17 and that either subsection (a) or subsection (c)(25) of the statute, and not subsection (c)(2), applied. Klaussner and the American Casualty Company, the carrier, petitioned the Mississippi Supreme Court for review. The Court determined the Commission and the AJ properly awarded Logan permanent-partial disability benefits under Section 71-3-17(c)(2). Accordingly, it reversed the Court of Appeals and reinstated and affirmed the holding of the AJ and Commission. View "Logan v. Klaussner Furniture Corp." on Justia Law

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Bettye Logan sustained a compensable leg injury while employed at Klaussner Furniture Corporation d/b/a Bruce Furniture Industries (“Klaussner”). An Administrative Judge (“AJ”), and the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission (“Commission”), found that Logan had suffered a sixty-percent loss of industrial use to her left lower extremity, which entitled her to 105 weeks of compensation set at $331.06 for her “scheduled-member” injury under Mississippi Code Section 71-3-17(c)(2). Logan appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the Commission and the AJ had applied the incorrect part of Section 71-3-17 and that either subsection (a) or subsection (c)(25) of the statute, and not subsection (c)(2), applied. Klaussner and the American Casualty Company, the carrier, petitioned the Mississippi Supreme Court for review. The Court determined the Commission and the AJ properly awarded Logan permanent-partial disability benefits under Section 71-3-17(c)(2). Accordingly, it reversed the Court of Appeals and reinstated and affirmed the holding of the AJ and Commission. View "Logan v. Klaussner Furniture Corp." on Justia Law

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Stacy Triplett filed three lawsuits against her former employer, Southern Hens, all stemming from an incident in which Triplett, while working, witnessed the gruesome death of a coworker. This incident caused Triplett mental anguish leading to an award of workers’ compensation benefits. After Triplett allegedly incurred some trouble in collecting her award of workers’ compensation benefits, she sued Southern Hens and Southern Hens’s carrier, Liberty Mutual. Triplett’s first lawsuit against Southern Hens, for failure to pay, ultimately was dismissed. Triplett then filed a second lawsuit against Southern Hens for failure to report; Triplett failed to serve Southern Hens within 120 days, as required under Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 4(h). With no official court action on her second suit, and admittedly knowing that she could not show good cause for failure to serve in the second suit, Triplett filed a third suit against Southern Hens , like the second, was for failure to report. Aware of the second suit, the circuit court dismissed Triplett’s third suit as an impermissible duplicative suit. Triplett appealed. Finding no error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Triplett v. Southern Hens, Inc." on Justia Law

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Several members of the Collins family sued the City of Newton and several of its officials alleging wrongful termination, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, slander, and reckless disregard of property. The plaintiffs are members of a firefighting family. William Donald Collins Sr. is the patriarch of the family; Mary Collins, Donald’s wife, the matriarch. Donald was a volunteer firefighter with the City of Newton Fire Department for more than thirty years. Mary never worked for Fire Department. Donald and Mary have three adult sons, William Donald “Donnie” Collins II, Jay Collins, and Colt Collins. Donnie and Colt were full-time, paid firefighters with the Fire Department in 2012, when the events at issue occurred. Jay also was a full-time, paid, firefighter with the Fire Department. Colt was married to Lisa Collins, who was a volunteer firefighter with the Fire Department in 2012. The Collinses claim that problems began in 2009, when the firefighters voted that Donnie be their chief over the then-current Chief Bounds. The Board of Aldermen ratified the vote, and Mayor David Carr vetoed the ratification. The Board overturned Mayor Carr’s veto. Mayor Carr obtained an ethics opinion regarding Donnie being his brothers’ boss, and the Board then declined to accept Donnie as fire chief. Donnie was made assistant chief and Walter Gordon was hired as chief. After Chief Gordon left, sometime in early 2012, Clarence Parks was hired as chief. On June 20, 2012, Chief Parks distributed a letter to all Fire Department personnel, Mayor Carr, and the Board, declaring every rank, position, and title in the Fire Department vacant, effectively stripping all firefighters of their ranks. Shortly thereafter, Joel Skinner was made interim chief. Skinner was Mary’s brother’s son; thus he was Donald’s and Mary’s nephew and first cousin to Donnie and Colt. Around July 5, 2012, after an argument with Skinner in a meeting, Donald was terminated from the Newton Fire Department. On about July 18, 2012, Donnie and Colt were terminated from the Newton Fire Department, and Lisa was terminated about July 23, 2012. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court denied. After a new judge was assigned to the case, the defendants filed a motion for relief or reconsideration of the denial of summary judgment under Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 60; the trial court granted the Rule 60 relief. The Collinses appealed the trial court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants. Finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Collins v. City of Newton" on Justia Law

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The issue this interlocutory appeal presented for the Supreme Court's review was whether, pursuant to Mississippi’s venue statute, a corporation may have only one national principal place of business or may have a principal place of business in multiple or all states. Cleveland Smith, a resident of Lowndes County, filed suit against his employer, Kansas City Southern Railway Company (“KCS”), at the Lowndes County Circuit Court. The trial court granted KCS’s Motion for a Change of Venue, holding that, although KCS’s national principal place of business was in Kansas City, Missouri, KCS also did business in Mississippi and that its principal place of business in Mississippi was Rankin County. Because holding that a corporation has a single, principal place of business follows the plain language of the statute and promoted simplicity, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the trial court's decision and remanded the case. View "Smith v. Kansas City Southern Railway Company" on Justia Law

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Quindon Thomas, an employee of a contractor at Chevron’s petroleum refinery plant in Pascagoula, was injured on the job. Thomas accepted workers’ compensation benefits provided by Chevron for his injuries. Thomas then sued Chevron and one of its employees for the same injuries. Chevron asserted the exclusive-remedy defense under the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Act and the circuit court granted summary judgment to Chevron. Thomas appealed, arguing the trial court erred in granting summary judgment. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found that Chevron was not a statutory employer of Thomas and therefore was not immune from tort liability. Accordingly, the Court reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Chevron, reversed the trial court’s denial of Thomas’s cross-motion for summary judgment, and remanded for a trial on the merits. View "Thomas v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc." on Justia Law

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After suffering a fall at work, Linda Mitchell returned to the same position she had before her injury, and continued to work for more than seven months until she was terminated for a cause unrelated to the injury. She then sought and was awarded disability benefits from the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission. But because the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and Commission both failed to recognize that Mitchell’s return to work created a rebuttable presumption that she suffered no loss of earning capacity, the Supreme Court reversed the award of disability benefits and remanded this case to the Commission to apply the correct legal standard. View "Hudspeth Regional Center v. Mitchell" on Justia Law

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A jury awarded Elsie Smith more than three million dollars in damages after an asbestos-related wrongful death trial in 2009, but the trial judge granted the defendants’ motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (“JNOV”). Elsie appealed, and the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. Following remand, the trial judge again entered a JNOV, and Elsie appealed that ruling. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded. The trial judge reaffirmed JNOV for the sole reason that Elsie presented insufficient evidence of Larry (her husband’s) exposure to the defendants’ asbestos products. But the Court found that Smith did present sufficient evidence to make the exposure issue a question for the jury. And because the trial judge did not address any of the other arguments that the defendants reasserted after the Court’s prior ruling, it declined to address any of the other issues raised in the briefing and in the defendants’ cross-appeals. View "Smith v. Union Carbide Corporation f/k/a Union Carbide Plastics & Chemicals Company, Inc." on Justia Law

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Mark Roberts filed various claims against multiple defendants, all of which were dismissed on summary judgment. Roberts began working for Warrior Energy Services Corporation in February 2012. He was an at-will, full-time salesman for the company. But in late March 2013, Warrior let him go. According to Roberts, his termination was the result of a conspiracy by Warrior; Bill Jenkins, a Warrior officer; Jason Smith, Jenkins’s close friend; and Boots Smith Oilfield Services, LLC. Roberts believed these four conspired to retaliate against Roberts for doing two things: (1) reporting illegal activity; and (2) buying the assets of a pipeline company to compete with Boots Smith. When the defendants filed their motions for summary judgment, discovery was not yet complete. Roberts had been deposed. But the depositions of the defendants, as well as a key factual witness, were still pending. So Roberts responded to the summary judgment motions with a motion to defer under Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f). Because completing discovery is often preferable and sometimes necessary to rule on a summary-judgment motion, Rule 56(f) permits a trial court to continue its ruling until discovery is complete. Roberts asserted in his Rule 56(f) motion that, to oppose the motions for summary judgment, he needed specific information in the defendants’ possession, namely, the defendants’ sworn deposition testimony about their involvement in terminating Roberts’s employment. And because those depositions had already been scheduled to take place, the Supreme Court found the trial court’s denial of Roberts’ Rule 56(f) motions was an abuse of discretion. Consequently, the Court reversed the judgments in favor of the defendants as prematurely granted. View "Roberts v. Boots Smith Oilfield Services, LLC" on Justia Law