Justia Mississippi Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
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Phillip and Anna Kennedy contracted with DIMA Homes, Inc., to build a house on property they owned in Marion County, Mississippi. The Kennedys failed to pay DIMA, and DIMA obtained a judgment, which it properly enrolled, creating a judgment lien on the property. The Kennedys then failed to pay property taxes, and in 2016, the land was sold at a tax sale to ACC Tax Sales Property, LLC. HL&C Marion, LCC, obtained the property from ACC. DIMA did not receive notice of the tax sale. In 2019, HL&C filed suit to quiet title. The chancery court ruled that the failure to give written notice of the sale to DIMA resulted in an extension of the two-year redemption period and set aside the tax sale. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted certiorari and reversed the judgments of the Court of Appeals and the chancellor, and holding that no legal authority required notice of the tax sale to have been given to DIMA. Accordingly, judgment is rendered in favor of HL&C Marion. View "HL&C Marion, LLC v. DIMA Homes, Inc." on Justia Law

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The issue this appeal presented stemmed from a circuit court's grant of summary judgment to First American Title Company (First American) and its grant of a declaratory udgment to Pinehaven Group, LLC (Pinehaven), against Singing River Health System Ambulatory Services (AS). Singing River Health System (SRHS) informed AS that its real estate purchase from Pinehaven ten years before was void for lack of ratification by the Jackson County Board of Supervisors (the board). AS sought to void the purchase and to recover from Pinehaven and First American. The circuit court held that AS’s purchase from Pinehaven was valid and enforceable. Finding that no factual dispute that the contract was valid and enforceable existed, the Mississippi Supreme Court declined to address the other issues presented on appeal that were based on the alleged ratification requirement. "AS properly considered, approved, and executed the contract for its purchase of the Pinehaven property. As such, we affirm the circuit court’s decision that lack of ratification did not render the Pinehaven purchase void." View "SRHS Ambulatory Services, Inc. v. Pinehaven Group, LLC, et al." on Justia Law

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In 2008, the City of Gulfport undertook a project to replace the infrastructure associated with its water and sewer systems relating to damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The repair project involved federal, state, and local agencies and ultimately cost approximately $85 million to complete. The original design of the Area 3B project, the sewer infrastructure that crossed the Cowan Road property located north of U.S. Highway 90 and east of Highway 605 were to be replaced, and the new infrastructure was to be installed within the City’s existing easements across the properties. The Cowan Road property at issue was located in the Area 3B geographic zone. Robert “Kris” Riemann, P.E., then-director of the City’s department of public works, was notified that John Felsher had inquired about relocating the sewer infrastructure in Area 3B. Based on an agreement with Felsher to relocate the utilities, the City had the Area 3B design drawings redrafted to move the utilities. The City's project manager was notified that the discovery of underground telephone lines and other utilities required that the sewer line being relocated had to cut the northwest corner of the property. Cowan Road filed a complaint in the Chancery Court of Harrison County, Mississippi, advancing a claim for inverse condemnation against the City. The chancery court transferred the case to the Special Court of Eminent Domain in Harrison County. Due to the jurisdictional limits of county court, the case ended up in Harrison County Circuit Court. The circuit court entered an order granting the motion for partial summary judgment filed by the City on the issue of the date of the taking. The parties eventually settled the reverse condemnation claim, and the City agreed to pay $100,000 to Cowan Road & Hwy 90, LLC, for the improper and unlawful taking of its property. The issue before the Mississippi Supreme Court centered on the circuit court's grant of attorneys' fees and expenses: Gulfport argued that Cowan Road should not have been allowed to recover attorneys’ fees under Section 43-37-9. Finding that the statute applied and fees were appropriate, the Supreme Court affirmed. However, the Court found the trial judge abused his discretion by disallowing requests for postjudgment interest. View "City of Gulfport v. Cowan Road & Hwy 90, LLC, et al." on Justia Law

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This appeal presented a question of first impression in Mississippi as to whether short-term rentals of private homes through online services such as Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway were residential uses of property for the purposes of a restrictive covenant. The trial court’s finding that Clyde Esplin’s use of his property was residential and that short-term rentals were allowed under the covenants was affirmed as was the trial court's finding that the amended bylaws restricting property rentals were invalid. View "Lake Serene Property Owners Association, Inc. v. Esplin" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from damages that Pine Belt Oil Co. (Pine Belt) incurred for the remediation of a September 2008 gasoline leak that originated on property Walter and Tammy Cooley (the Cooleys) had sold to Pine Belt four months prior to discovery of the leak. In 2009, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) issued an administrative order demanding that Pine Belt, the owners of Pine Belt, Robert and Melissa Morgan, and the Cooleys pay remediation costs, including future costs, for the properties afflicted by the gasoline leak. Since October 2008, Pine Belt maintained that the Cooleys were responsible for the gasoline leak, not Pine Belt. After initially refusing to pay the remediation costs, Pine Belt did begin paying them in July 2009. In April 2016, six years and nine months after its first remediation payment, Pine Belt filed a complaint seeking indemnification from the Cooleys for Pine Belt’s past and future expenses incurred due to its remediation damage caused by the gasoline leak. The Cooleys moved for summary judgment, arguing that the claim was barred by the statute of limitations. The trial judge denied the summary judgment motion. The Cooleys then filed a petition for interlocutory appeal, arguing that the statute of limitations barred Pine Belt’s implied indemnity claim. The Cooleys argued alternatively that Pine Belt could not prove that it did not actively participate in the underlying wrong, i.e., the gasoline leak. The Mississippi Supreme Court held that the applicable three-year statute of limitations ran on Pine Belt’s claim on March 5, 2012. Pine Belt’s claim was thus time barred, and all other arguments were moot. View "Cooley v. Pine Belt Oil Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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The City of Gautier granted David Vindich a permit to build a 1,410 square foot garage/workshop on his .76 acre lot. When the building was almost completed, Vindich’s neighbor, Martin Wheelan, filed a lawsuit arguing the City’s decision was unlawful because Vindich actually sought a variance, which required a public hearing rather than a building permit. Thus, Wheelan said he was denied due process. Wheelan also claimed the City’s decision was arbitrary and capricious and that the workshop “completely overwhelm[ed]” the neighborhood and created a nuisance. After a trial, the chancellor dismissed Wheelan’s claims, finding that the City’s interpretation of the applicable ordinance was not manifestly unreasonable. The chancellor also found that the building was not a nuisance. Wheelan appealed, but the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Mississippi Supreme Court agreed with the appellate court's dissenting opinion, finding the City erred in its interpretation of the ordinance at issue here. The Court therefore reversed the Court of appeals and the chancery court, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Wheelan v. City of Gautier, et al." on Justia Law

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The dispute underlying this appeal began with the failure of Camille Village, LLC, the owner of an apartment complex, to deposit additional money in escrow for repairs after it was demanded by Lenders Federal National Mortgage Association and Barings Multifamily Capital, LLC. The Lenders held Camille Village to be in default, lengthy settlement negotiations failed, and the amount demanded for repairs increased dramatically after additional inspections. After a trial, the chancery court concluded that Camille Village was in default and had failed to prove the Lenders had acted in bad faith. Finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the trial court. View "Camille Village, LLC v. Federal National Mortgage Ass'n, et al." on Justia Law

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After a sinkhole formed on the leasehold of Jad Khalaf, the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District (District) filed a complaint against Khalaf to recoup the costs of repairing the sinkhole and for other relief. Khalaf moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim, which the chancery court granted. The District appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed dismissal. View "Pearl River Valley Water Supply District v. Khalaf" on Justia Law

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Summary judgment was granted to Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC (Ocwen), as were motions to dismiss filed by Jennifer Shackelford (Shackelford), Liberty Home Equity Solutions, Inc. (Liberty), and Professional Services of Potts Camp, Inc. (Potts Camp). As to the summary-judgment motion, the chancery court granted it on grounds that the deed under which Julia Kelly claimed her property interest was a void conveyance under long-standing homestead law, codified in Mississippi Code Section 89-1-29 (Rev. 2011). As to the motions to dismiss, the chancery court granted those motions after determining Kelly’s claims were time-barred by the relevant statutes of limitation. In 1993, Harvey Lamb and his wife Idele, conveyed the Subject Property to their son, Harvey Lamb (Lamb), via warranty deed. Lamb lived on this property with his wife, Sydney. Years later, in March 2010, Lamb executed a “Warranty Deed With Restriction” that conveyed the Subject Property to him and his wife, “for their lifetime, with the remainder at their death or revocation of life estate, to their daughter, Julia L. Kelly[.]” Sydney never joined in the execution of the 2010 Warranty Deed. At some point after the 2010 Warranty Deed, Lamb and Sydney divorced. In connection with their divorce, Sydney executed a “Quit Claim Deed & Relinquishment of Life Estate” in May 2012. In 2015, Lamb received a reverse mortgage from Liberty; a deed of trust relating to this mortgage encumbered the property. Lamb died in 2017. Kelly was Lamb’s sole heir, and she was appointed administratrix of his estate. In January 2018, Liberty assigned the 2015 Deed of Trust to Ocwen. Ocwen alleged that Lamb was in default under the 2015 Deed of Trust and that the loan had been accelerated. Ocwen sought a declaration that the conveyance to Kelly under the 2010 Warranty deed was void because Sydney did nto join in it, and that the conveyance should have been set aside as a cloud on title. Kelly counterclaimed against Ocwen and cross-claimed against Shackleford, Liberty and Potts Camp. Finding no reversible in the chancery court's order granting summary judgment and dismissing the other claims, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Kelly v. Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC, et al." on Justia Law

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Two cases were consolidated for the Mississippi Supreme Court's review. In the first appeal, Singing River MOB, LLC (MOB), argued that the leases between itself and Singing River Health System (SRHS) and the lease between Jackson County, Mississippi (County), and SRHS were valid and that the chancery court erred by finding the leases invalid under Mississippi’s “minutes rule.” In the second appeal, Jackson County and SRHS contended the chancery court erred by fashioning its own equitable relief as a result of the first ruling. MOB also raised its own objection as to the manner in which the equitable relief was fashioned. After careful review, the Supreme Court affirmed and remanded the partial summary-judgment order as to the first appeal (No. 2019-IA-01630-SCT); however, the Court reversed and remanded that order as to the second appeal (No. 2019-IA-01653-SCT). View "Singing River MOB, LLC v. Jackson County" on Justia Law