Justia Mississippi Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
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Joe Tubwell had been living in a house in DeSoto County, Mississippi, since 2005. In 2016, the mortgage loan on the house went into default, and foreclosure proceedings were initiated. Tubwell filed a complaint against the mortgage companies in an attempt to stop the foreclosure. The case was moved to a federal court where the mortgage companies were granted summary judgment. Tubwell, Morgan Stanley, and Specialized Loan Servicing LLC (SLS) entered settlement negotiations and reached an agreement. Tubwell agreed to vacate the property by April 30, 2020, in exchange for a confidential sum of money. The property was sold to FV-1, Inc., in trust for Morgan Stanley Mortgage Capital Holdings LLC. However, Tubwell refused to vacate the property by the agreed deadline and did not return the settlement funds.The mortgage companies filed a complaint against Tubwell in the DeSoto County Circuit Court to enforce the terms of the settlement agreement. The circuit court granted summary judgment ordering Tubwell to relinquish possession to the plaintiffs and dismissed Tubwell’s counterclaims for lack of jurisdiction. Tubwell appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the circuit court's decision.The Supreme Court of Mississippi granted Tubwell’s petition for certiorari to address the issue of whether it was error to dismiss his counterclaims for lack of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court found that the circuit court had jurisdiction to entertain Tubwell’s counterclaims and erred when it declined to do so based on a lack of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed the judgments of the circuit court and the Court of Appeals with regard to the dismissal of Tubwell’s counterclaims for lack of jurisdiction and remanded the case to the circuit court for further proceedings. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the circuit court and the Court of Appeals on the remainder of the issues raised. View "Tubwell v. FV-1, Inc." on Justia Law

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The case involves a dispute between two parties over the right to quiet enjoyment of property versus the right to hunt and harvest wildlife. The Dickersons, who own approximately 220 acres in Booneville, Mississippi, filed a complaint against the Allens and Cain, members of the Sand Hill Hunting Club. The Dickersons alleged that the Allens' and Cain's hunting dogs trespassed on their property, interfered with their preferred method of still hunting, and disturbed the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of their land. They sought injunctions to prevent the Allens' dogs from entering their property and to stop the Allens from parking or walking on any road right-of-way adjoining their land.The Prentiss County Chancery Court found that the repeated intrusion of deer hunting dogs onto the Dickersons' property constituted a private nuisance. The court granted permanent injunctions disallowing the hunting dogs from going onto the property. The court also ruled that if any of the Allens were found to be parked on the public road or public road right-of-way within sight of the Dickersons' property when deer dogs were found to be running on the Dickersons' property, it would be prima facie proof that the Allens violated the court’s injunctions. The court denied the Dickersons' request for monetary damages due to lack of sufficient evidence.The Allens appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Mississippi. They raised several issues, including whether the trial court committed reversible error by failing to specify its path to finding private nuisance, whether deer hunting with dogs can be considered a private nuisance when done within the parameters of the law and in an area long known for dog hunting, and whether the trial court’s injunction adequately addresses the nuisance. The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court's decision, finding that the trial court's finding of private nuisance was supported by the evidence and that its issuance of a permanent injunction was within its judicial authority and adequately addressed the nuisance. View "Allen v. Dickerson" on Justia Law

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The case revolves around the dispute over whether the main roads within the Deerfield Estates subdivision in Newton County, Mississippi, are private or public. In 2001, the Newton County Board of Supervisors voted to accept the two main roads of the subdivision into the county road system. However, the roads were never added to the official county road registry. In 2020, the subdivision filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that the roads are public and an injunction mandating the county to add them to the registry and perform repairs.The Newton County Chancery Court held that the roads had become public roads via express common law dedication and ordered that the roads be added to the county map and road register. The county appealed this decision, arguing that the subdivision's claims were barred by the doctrine of laches or the general three-year statute of limitations.The Supreme Court of Mississippi affirmed the lower court's decision. It held that the county's 2001 acceptance of the roads was effective and that the roads served public interest or convenience. The court also found that the county's failure to add the roads to the registry and the map in a timely manner did not negate the county's explicit acceptance of the dedication. Furthermore, the court ruled that the county could not invoke the doctrine of laches or the general three-year statute of limitations to bar the subdivision's request for a declaratory judgment that the roads are public roads. View "Newton County, Mississippi v. Deerfield Estates Subdivision Property Owners Association, LLC" on Justia Law

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This case involves a dispute over approximately one acre of coastal land in Mississippi. The disagreement is between John Aldrich and the State of Mississippi, with the main point of contention being whether the land in question is privately owned by Aldrich or is State-owned tideland. The dispute originated from a map published by the secretary of state in 1994, which marked the boundaries between private property and Public Trust Tidelands. According to the map, the land in question was designated as State-owned tideland. Aldrich disagreed with this designation and challenged the boundary in Harrison County Chancery Court in 1998. The State responded with a counterclaim, asserting that it held fee simple title to the property.After more than two decades of inactivity and extended litigation, the chancellor ruled in favor of Aldrich in 2022, vesting title in him and adjusting the tideland boundary. The chancellor made five consequential findings, all of which the State labeled as error on appeal. The most significant finding was that a 1784 Spanish land grant, which is the root of Aldrich’s title, negated the State’s claim to fee simple title. This finding called into question which lands passed from the federal government to Mississippi upon statehood.The Supreme Court of Mississippi affirmed the chancery court’s decision. The court found that the 1784 Spanish land grant was valid and vested title in Aldrich. The court also found that the State failed to meet its burden of proof that the artificial filling of the land was not done pursuant to a constitutional legislative enactment and for a higher public purpose. Therefore, the court concluded that the property belongs to Aldrich. View "State v. Aldrich" on Justia Law

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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