Justia Mississippi Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
Evans v. MC & J Investments, LLC
In Mississippi, Samuel and Sandra Evans appealed the trial court's decision not to set aside a foreclosure sale. They executed a deed of trust for real property in 2003, but defaulted on their payments. Foreclosure proceedings were initiated and the property was purchased at the foreclosure sale by MC&J Investments, LLC. The Evans alleged that they had an oral agreement with the managing member of MC&J Investments to buy the property at the foreclosure sale and then sell it back to them. The trial court found that the bid price paid by MC&J Investments was not so inadequate as to shock the conscience of the court and that no written evidence was provided to support the alleged promise to sell back the property. The Supreme Court of Mississippi affirmed the trial court's decision, ruling that the oral agreement was barred under the statute of frauds and did not fall under the doctrine of promissory estoppel because there was no evidence that the Evans relied on the alleged promise. Additionally, the court found that the price paid at the foreclosure sale didn't shock the conscience of the court and therefore didn't err in not setting aside the foreclosure sale. View "Evans v. MC & J Investments, LLC" on Justia Law
PriorityOne Bank v. Folkes
Laura Folkes sued PriorityOne Bank (PriorityOne) in Mississippi chancery court, seeking to set aside a foreclosure on the ground that it had been conducted in bad faith. PriorityOne appealed the chancellor’s denial of its motion to compel arbitration. In 2019, PriorityOne made a loan via a line of credit to Folkes, secured by a deed of trust on a commercial tract of real property. Folkes filed for bankruptcy in February 2020. PriorityOne foreclosed on the property after Folkes defaulted on her payment obligations under the bankruptcy agreement. Prior to the foreclosure, Folkes’s bankruptcy trustee made one payment in the amount of $9,394 to PriorityOne, which was credited to the loan. Following the foreclosure, PriorityOne sold the property to Steven Adams. In 2021, Folkes filed a complaint at chancery court alleging that the foreclosure was made in bad faith because the bank had accepted a “substantial payment” toward the debt prior to foreclosure. The chancellor never ruled on this motion. Later, Folkes amended her complaint against PriorityOne, PriorityOne employee Harvey Lott, Steven Adams, and 5-A Properties, LLP. In May 2022, the circuit court ordered that case to arbitration. In the chancery court proceeding, and with PriorityOne’s motion for summary judgment pending, Folkes was granted permission to amend her complaint to add clarifying facts to certain issues raised in the original complaint. The chancellor denied PriorityOne’s motion to compel arbitration, noting that chancery court was a court of equity and finding that Folkes “has established a prima faci[e] case showing that some impropriety may have occurred at or around the time of the foreclosure on her property that demands that she be given the opportunity to prove her case.” On the specific circumstances before us, the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed with Folkes that PriorityOne waived any right it may have had to compel arbitration by substantially participating in litigation and that Folkes was bound by her representation to the Court that the amended chancery complaint did not and was not intended to add discrete claims to her chancery action. View "PriorityOne Bank v. Folkes" on Justia Law
Beachy, et al. v. Mississippi District Council for Assemblies of God
The General Council of the Assemblies of God (General Council) governed the Assemblies of God denomination. Its affiliate, the Mississippi District Council for Assemblies of God (District), governed the denomination’s local churches in Mississippi, including Gulf Coast Worship Center (GCWC) in Long Beach. In January 2017, Kevin Beachy, the pastor of GCWC, did not renew his credentials as an ordained pastor with the General Council, ultimately informing the District that he and GCWC intended to disaffiliate from the General Council. The District then informed Beachy that GCWC was being placed under District supervision. On March 19, 2017, the GCWC congregation voted to disaffiliate from the General Council. The congregation voted also to remove a reverter clause from its constitution and bylaws; this clause would have caused the GCWC’s property to revert to the District in the event that GCWC ceased operating as a “church body.” In November 2017, the District filed a chancery court petition for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief against Beachy and the GCWC board of trustees, Eddie Kinsey, Andre Mulet, and Kris Williams (collectively, Defendants). Both the District and Defendants moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted the District’s motion for summary judgment and denied Defendants’ motion. Defendants appealed. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court determined that issues concerning disaffiliation, i.e., actions taken at the congregational meeting on March 19, 2017, and whether GCWC was under the District’s supervision, were church-governing matters. Thus, the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine deprived the chancellor of jurisdiction to address those claims. But the Supreme Court found genuine issues of material fact remained regarding ownership of property. Therefore, the Court reversed the chancellor’s grant of summary judgment to the District and remanded all issues concerning ownership of property for further proceedings. View "Beachy, et al. v. Mississippi District Council for Assemblies of God" on Justia Law
Loblolly Properties LLC v. Le Papillon Homeowner’s Association Inc.
Le Papillon Homeowner’s Association Inc. sought to collect homeowners’ association fees from Loblolly Properties LLC for the nine lots it owned in the Le Papillon development. Loblolly argued that it did not have to pay HOA fees because a nonjudicial foreclosure sale extinguished all restrictive covenants on the subject lots. The trial court disagreed, finding that the covenants were on record when Loblolly purchased the subject lots in the Le Papillon property. The trial court also held that Loblolly’s Special Warranty Deed’s language clearly stated that the “conveyance and the warranty hereof is subject to any and all Covenants and Restrictions of record.” The trial court later granted summary judgment for Le Papillon. Loblolly appealed, raising two issues: (1) whether the foreclosure sale made the covenants and restrictions not binding, despite the language of the Special Warranty Deed; and (2) whether the foreclosure extinguished the covenants and restrictions. The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court, holding that Loblolly was bound to the covenants through the language in the Special Warranty Deed and that the foreclosure did not extinguish the covenants and restrictions. Upon a review of the record and law in this state, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the trial and appellate courts. View "Loblolly Properties LLC v. Le Papillon Homeowner's Association Inc." on Justia Law
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
Alpha Management Corporation, et al. v. Harris, et al.
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
WBL SPO I, LLC v. West Town Bank & Trust
The junior creditor, WBL SPO, LLC (WBL), claimed it was entitled to sue the foreclosing creditor, West Town Bank & Trust (West Town), for not bidding a high enough price for an encumbered property. In 2015, West Town loaned $4.4 million to DIA Lodging and DJ Lodging (collectively, DJ Lodging). The loan was secured not only by the Biloxi hotel but also by another hotel in Forrest City, Arkansas. At the time of the loan, the preloan appraisal valued the Biloxi hotel at $5.45 million. WBL had the second mortgage on the Biloxi hotel; both loans were secured by the Biloxi and Arkansas hotels. DJ Lodging quickly fell behind on its weekly payments to WBL. It also defaulted on its payments to West Town. Based on the default, West Town informed WBL of its intention to commence a nonjudicial foreclosure. West Town had obtained an appraisal of the hotel in January 2020 that indicated the fair market value of the property was $2.75 million. The year before, in February 2019, West Town had obtained an appraisal from a different firm valuing the property at just $1.7 million. West Town decided to split the difference between the two appraisals and make a $2.195 credit bid at the foreclosure sale. West Town averred that, at the time of foreclosure, DJ Lodging still owed $4.5 million. WBL was owed half a million dollars. The foreclosure sale proceeded in March 2020, and West Town’s $2.195 million credit bid was the only bid. West Town transferred its interest in the hotel to Patriarch, LLC, a single-purpose entity established to hold properties West Town acquired in foreclosure. Patriarch then sold the property to a third party for $1.9 million. WBL claimed it was entitled to an “equitable credit” in the form of money damages for the difference between the amount West Town purchased the hotel at the foreclosure sale and the allegedly higher commercially reasonable value of the property. The trial court rejected WBL’s equitable-credit claim. Because WBL’s claims against West Town were based on an asserted legal right that did not exist, the Mississippi Supreme Court concurred West Town was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. View "WBL SPO I, LLC v. West Town Bank & Trust" on Justia Law
SEL Business Services, LLC v. Lord, et al.
Wilburn Lord, Jr. agreed to sell SEL Business Services, LLP and Skip Lloyd (collectively, SEL) a building in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, for $60,000. SEL moved into the building and alleged to have begun making improvements and paying the taxes. But Lord never followed through with the sale. Instead, Lord sold the building to Sharkey Issaquena Community Hospital, a community hospital operated by Sharkey and Issaquena Counties (collectively, Hospital Defendants). SEL initially sought to enjoin the sale. In an amended complaint, in addition to seeking the injunction, SEL alleged Lord breached his contract with SEL to sell the building. SEL requested specific performance. Alternatively, SEL alleged detrimental reliance and promissory estoppel. SEL finally requested, “should the Court find that specific performance, promissory estoppel and/or equitable estoppel are somehow inapplicable and/or the Contract should not otherwise be enforced based on the principles of equity and/or other grounds/for other reasons, . . . [that] the Court disgorge all funds paid to Defendants and/or otherwise award all monetary damages available under Mississippi law.” Both Lord and the Hospital Defendants moved for summary judgment, claiming the statute of frauds barred not only SEL’s contract-based claim for specific performance but also any “derivative” equitable claims. Both the chancery and Court of Appeals relied on Barriffe v. Estate of Nelson, 153 So. 3d 613 (Miss. 2014) to conclude that the statute of frauds barred not just claims for equitable liens but all potential equitable remedies. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted SEL’s petition for writ of certiorari to overrule the erroneous Barriffe decision and to reinstate the Supreme Court’s long-standing equitable principles. Consequently, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the Court of Appeals. Specifically, the Court reversed the chancellor’s dismissal of SEL and Lloyd’s equitable claims against Lord. The Court affirmed the chancellor’s judgment of dismissal as to the remaining defendants. The case was remanded to the chancery court for further proceedings. View "SEL Business Services, LLC v. Lord, et al." on Justia Law
Deepak Jasco, LLC, et al. v. Palmer
In 2017, Charles Green was stabbed and killed. His body was found in a parking lot in front of an abandoned building. Deepak Jasco, LLC, owned and operated a convenience store in the adjacent lot. Luretha Green Palmer, Green’s sister and the executrix of his estate, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit and asserted a claim for premises liability based on negligent security. The circuit judge denied the motion for summary judgment, and the Mississippi Supreme Court granted an interlocutory appeal. Palmer did not allege that defendants had actual knowledge of the violent nature of Green’s attacker and offered no affidavit or evidence to establish this element. Instead, Palmer argued that Defendants were aware of an atmosphere of violence on their premises. Further, Palmer insisted that summary judgment was properly denied because there was a genuine issue of a material fact in dispute about whether Green was killed on Defendant’s premises at 1034 West Woodrow Wilson Drive and whether Deepak Jasco, LLC, exercised possession and control over the portion of the common parking lot where Green died from his injuries. The Mississippi Supreme Court did not agree with Palmer's contentions, finding she failed to establish an atmosphere of violence through police records of other instances of crime at or near the property in question, and that defendants owned or operated the property. With no genuine issue of material fact in dispute, the Court found defendants were entitled to summary judgment. View "Deepak Jasco, LLC, et al. v. Palmer" 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