Justia Mississippi Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Landlord - Tenant
4-Way Electric Services, LLC v. Huntcole, LLC, et al.
Through an Asset Purchase Agreement, seller Huntcole, LLC (Huntcole), transferred to buyer 4-Way Electric Services, LLC (4-Way), all property necessary to conduct the refurbishment business. The Asset Purchase Agreement did not include the building where the refurbishment business was located. Instead, Huntcole leased that building to 4-Way through a separate Lease. Three years after buying the business, 4-Way announced it was moving to a new building in a different city. It began removing large pieces of commercial equipment it believed it had purchased from Huntcole to conduct the refurbishment business. Huntcole protested and argued that because the equipment was affixed to the building, it was not transferred to 4-Way through the Asset Purchase Agreement. The trial court ruled in favor of Huntcole, finding the affixed equipment had been excluded from the Asset Purchase Agreement. After its review, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the trial court's judgment. The Supreme Court found that based on the plain language of the Asset Purchase Agreement, 4-Way, by purchasing all assets necessary to conduct the refurbishment business, did in fact purchase the very equipment needed to conduct the business. The Asset Purchase Agreement also clearly designated the equipment as personal property and not as building improvements or fixtures. The Supreme Court concurred with the trial court that 4-Way did not have the right to cause damage to the building in a way that breached the Lease. The case was remanded to the trial court to determine the appropriate amount of damages to repair the building in accordance with the Lease, and to recalculate Huntcole's attorney fees' awards. View "4-Way Electric Services, LLC v. Huntcole, LLC, et al." on Justia Law
Gordon v. Dickerson
In 2016 in the Lee County Justice Court, Julio Gordon obtained an eviction order and a money judgment for back rent against his tenant Christy Dickerson. Dickerson appealed to the County Court in September 2016, providing notice to Gordon under Uniform Civil Rule of Circuit and County Court Practice 5.04. In May 2018, the county clerk sent Dickerson a notice of intent to dismiss the case as stale. In response, Dickerson filed an “Appellant’s Counterclaims” in June 2018, with a certificate of service indicating that a copy of the counterclaims had been sent to Gordon’s mailing address. Gordon filed no response, and Dickerson applied for and received an entry of default in January 2019. Dickerson then moved for default judgment and a determination of compensatory and punitive damages. The county court held a hearing on the motion. Both parties appeared at the hearing; Dickerson was represented by counsel, and Gordon appeared pro se. The county court found that Gordon had been served properly with the counterclaims in accordance with Rule 5 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure, that Rule 4 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure was inapplicable, and that Gordon had forfeited his right to challenge liability by failing to answer the counterclaims. The county court held a trial to determine if punitive damages should be awarded, after which the county court awarded Dickerson $10,800 in compensatory damages and $39,200 in punitive damages. Gordon, through counsel, timely moved to set aside the default judgment under Rule 60(b) of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure, or, alternatively, for a new trial, along with a requested stay of judgment pending the post-trial motions. Pertinent here, Gordon argued Dickerson did not comply with Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 13(k)’s requirement that counterclaims be filed within thirty days after the perfection of her appeal from justice court. And she had not been granted leave of the court to file her counterclaims as required by Rule 15. The Mississippi Supreme Court found that the rule was misinterpreted and misapplied to the exclusion of Civil Procedure Rule 15(a), and that the county court erred by not setting aside the default judgment against Gordon. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ decision, reversed the circuit court, vacated the judgment of default, and remanded this case to the county court for further proceedings on the merits. View "Gordon v. Dickerson" on Justia Law
Holcomb, Dunbar, Watts, Best, Masters & Golmon, P.A. v. 400 South Lamar Oxford Mad Hatter Partners, LLC, et al.
Holcomb, Dunbar, Watts, Best, Masters & Golmon, P.A. (“Holcomb Dunbar”), was the tenant and 400 South Lamar Mad Hatter Partners, LLC (“Mad Hatter”), was the successor landlord to the property at issue in this case. Mad Hatter sued Holcomb Dunbar for breach of the lease due to its failure to pay rent for the remaining eighteen months of a three-year lease. After discovery, Mad Hatter moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. Mad Hatter was awarded $133,900 in unpaid rent. The trial court also denied Holcomb Dunbar’s motion for partial summary judgment and motion to amend its counterclaim, while granting Mad Hatter’s motion to quash certain subpoenas. Holcomb Dunbar’s remaining counterclaims went to trial, and the jury found against it. Holcomb Dunbar appealed the trial court’s rulings on these four motions. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment and the Mississippi Supreme Court granted certiorari. Finding no reversible error in the trial court's grant of summary judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed its judgment. View "Holcomb, Dunbar, Watts, Best, Masters & Golmon, P.A. v. 400 South Lamar Oxford Mad Hatter Partners, LLC, et al." on Justia Law
G4, LLC v. Pearl River County Board of Supervisors
G4, LLC, entered into a lease in 2009 with the City of Picayune, Mississippi, for land on the grounds of the Picayune Municipal Airport. After the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors assessed ad valorem taxes on the leased land, G4 paid the taxes under protest and petitioned the Board for a refund and for a refund of taxes it had paid on lots in the Tin Hill subdivision. The Board denied G4’s petition, and G4 appealed to the Circuit Court of Pearl River County, which affirmed. G4 appealed, asserting that, according to the Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision in Rankin County Board of Supervisors v. Lakeland Income Properties, LLC, 241 So. 3d 1279 (Miss. 2018), it was automatically exempt from paying ad valorem taxes on the airport property. The Supreme Court agreed, reversed and remanded the circuit court’s decision that affirmed the Board’s refusal to refund the airport property taxes. The Court affirmed the circuit court’s decision that G4 was not entitled to a refund of taxes paid on the Tin Hill subdivision lots. View "G4, LLC v. Pearl River County Board of Supervisors" on Justia Law
Oak Grove Marketplace, LLC v. Lamar County School District
The lessee of commercially used Sixteenth Section Land sought to prevent the leasing school board from adjusting the annual rent outside the time constraints of the lease. While the terms of the lease appeared to contain a clear time restriction within which the Board did not act, the Mississippi Supreme Court determined the restriction could not be enforced. The restriction ran contrary to the statutory requirement that rent “shall be adjusted not less than once every ten (10) years . . . .” Miss. Code Ann. sec. 29-3-69 (Rev. 2010). Further, a school board’s duty as trustee to assure adequate consideration is received based on current fair market value of the Sixteenth Section Land cannot be waived, even by mutual agreement in a contract. For those reasons, the Supreme Court concluded the chancellor did not err by denying the lessee’s motion for a declaratory judgment that the school board was precluded from adjusting the rent based on the time restrictions in the lease. View "Oak Grove Marketplace, LLC v. Lamar County School District" on Justia Law
LAGB, LLC v. Total Merchant Services, Inc.
Federico Garcia, president of Mama Kio’s, entered into an agreement with Total Merchant Services (TMS) for credit-card financial services for the restaurant. Two months after opening Mama Kio’s, Garcia noticed that the bank deposits through TMS were considerably less than expected. TMS later discovered the cause was an improper code in its software that had failed to collect the tips authorized by the customers. The missing tips totaled approximately $14,000. TMS attempted to remedy the error by running the credit cards again for the uncharged tip amounts. However, the customers were charged not only for the uncollected tips but also for the entire charged amounts. More than three thousand customers’ transactions were double and/or triple billed, resulting in more than $400,000 taken from Mama Kio’s customers’ accounts. Mama Kio’s worked with the credit-card companies for more than a month to repair and mitigate the damages. Mama Kio’s was forced to close its restaurant for lack of customers. LAGB, LLC, a commercial landlord, filed suit against Mama Kio’s for breach of its lease contract and sought damages for rent, insurance, taxes, and capital improvements. LAGB also sued the companies that provided credit-card processing services to Mama Kio’s, alleging that the negligence of the credit-card processing companies caused Mama Kio’s to breach its lease with LAGB. Mama Kio’s filed a cross-claim against the credit-card processing companies, alleging misrepresentations and tortious interference with its business. The credit-card processing companies filed motions compelling LAGB and Mama Kio’s to arbitrate. The trial court granted the motions. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined that while the trial court did not err by compelling Mama Kio’s to arbitrate its cross-claims, it did err by compelling LAGB to arbitrate its claims. View "LAGB, LLC v. Total Merchant Services, Inc." on Justia Law
Jane Doe v. Hallmark Partners, LP
Arbitration is a contractual agreement between parties. And only agreed-upon arbitrable disputes are subject to arbitration. On de novo review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found in this case a valid arbitration agreement, but the subject of the lessee’s premises-liability claim (a dispute that stemmed from a physical and sexual assault on the apartment complex premises) was not within the arbitration agreement’s scope, as it did not arise under or relate to her “occupancy and leasing of the [apartment].” Because the dispute was outside the agreement’s scope, the trial court erred by staying proceedings and ordering arbitration. View "Jane Doe v. Hallmark Partners, LP" on Justia Law
Adams v. Hughes
This was an interlocutory appeal involving a premises-liability case. Cynthia Adams, one of the defendants in the case, filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court denied. Plaintiff Anthony Hughes brought a negligence claim against multiple parties: BKB, LLC d/b/a the Electric Cowboy; Jonathan Self, manager of the Electric Cowboy; and Adams, the owner of the property on which Electric Cowboy operates. Hughes alleged that he was “attacked and assaulted by a third party assailant” at the Electric Cowboy in 2011. Hughes claimed that all the defendants “had either actual or constructive knowledge of the third party’s violent nature or actual or constructive knowledge that an atmosphere of violence existed on the premises of the Electric Cowboy.” Adams was an absentee landlord, who did not physically occupy, possess, or exercise control over the Electric Cowboy and/or the leased premises prior to or at the time of the incident in question; Adams did not frequent or visit the Electric Cowboy; Adams had no control or involvement in the operations or management of the Electric Cowboy; she was never employed by the Electric Cowboy; she did not supervise the Electric Cowboy, and she did not have the right to supervise the Electric Cowboy. Adams petitioned the Supreme Court for interlocutory appeal when her motion for summary judgment was denied. A panel of the Supreme Court issued an order granting the petition and staying the trial court proceedings. Finding that Adams was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law, the Court reversed the trial court’s denial of summary judgment and rendered judgment in favor of Adams. View "Adams v. Hughes" on Justia Law
Intrepid, Inc. v. Bennett
A lease agreement included a five-year renewal provision but failed to specify the rent to be paid during the renewal period. The circuit judge granted a judgment on the pleadings, finding the renewal provision unenforceable. Finding no reversible error in that decision, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Intrepid, Inc. v. Bennett" on Justia Law