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The chancery court examined the principles underlying quantum meruit and found that Vincent Castigliola and David Kiyhet, attorneys for the estate of Dane Eubanks, should have been awarded attorneys’ fees from two minors out of a settlement they, and only they, obtained. After remand from the Mississippi Supreme Court, the chancery court again heard arguments as to whether Castigliola and Kiyhet should be awarded attorneys’ fees from the two minors based on quantum meruit out of the settlement they obtained. The remand required that the chancery court make specific findings of fact. This time, without making any findings of fact and without any contradictory evidence being introduced, the chancery court reversed course and found that the factors for quantum meruit were not met. Because the chancery court failed to follow remand instructions by failing to make findings of fact, and, because no contradictory evidence was adduced suggesting the factors for quantum meruit were suddenly not met, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for a further determination of attorneys’ fees. View "In the Matter of the Estate of Dane Richard Eubanks, Deceased" on Justia Law

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Brian Cole was killed in a motor vehicle accident in 2001. Brian Cole’s Estate had a court-approved contingency fee contract with Eugene Tullos, and only Eugene Tullos, to represent the Estate in wrongful death litigation. The Ferrell Group claimed this contract rendered it an interested party entitled to notice of the Estate’s final accounting under Mississippi Code Section 91-7-295. The trial court found that the Ferrell Group was not an interested party pursuant to the notice statute. Because the Ferrell Group did not probate a claim or have a contract with the Estate, or otherwise show a direct pecuniary interest in the Estate, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment. View "In the Matter of the Estate of Brian K. Cole, Deceased" on Justia Law

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The City of Clarksdale solicited sealed bids for a public construction project. The City received sealed bids from Landmark Construction Company, GCI (“Landmark”), and Hemphill Construction Company, Inc. (“Hemphill”). When unsealed, both bids exceeded the project’s allocated funds by more than ten percent. Rather than rebidding the contract, the City conditionally awarded a contract to Landmark, dependent upon the City’s obtaining additional public funds to match Landmark’s bid. The Mississippi Supreme Court found the City’s actions were not provided for in the public bidding laws, reversed the circuit court which held to the contrary, and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Hemphill Construction Company, Inc. v. City of Clarksdale" on Justia Law

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In 2017, R.M. and C.W., were committed to the South Mississippi State Hospital (SMSH) to be treated for mental illness. As required under the commitment statute, both R.M. and C.W. were evaluated by court-appointed physicians, one a medical doctor, the other a psychologist. In the cases of both individuals, the evaluating physicians were the same two physicians. And in both cases, the physicians’ recommendations were the same: the medical doctor found that both individuals were, to some degree, mentally ill and thus needed treatment; the psychologist found that both individuals were not mentally ill and did not need treatment. The issue this case presented for the Mississippi Supreme Court’s review centered on whether Mississippi Code Section 41-21-77 allows a director of a state hospital independently to override a commitment order of a chancery court for treatment of mental illness. The Court held it does not. Because this statutory question came to the Court by way of a citation of contempt, this case also required the Court to review the citation of contempt to determine whether the chancery court’s classification of the contempt was correct and whether correct procedures were followed in the finding of contempt. To this, the Court found the chancery court erred in its contempt determination. Accordingly, the Court reversed the chancery court’s contempt finding, remanded the case for an entry of an order of recusal, and otherwise ordered further proceedings. View "In the Matter of C. W." on Justia Law

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A log truck driven by Royce Sullivan collided with the rear of an automobile being driven by Harry Schroeder, who had just pulled his car onto a highway in Lowndes County, Mississippi. Harry died as a result of the accident, and his wife, Helen (a passenger in her husband’s car) suffered severe injuries, permanent disability, and diminished capacity. Helen, individually, and as one of Harry’s wrongful-death beneficiaries, sued Sullivan in federal court, alleging that Sullivan’s negligence had caused Harry’s death and her permanent disability. Sullivan moved for summary judgment at the close of discovery, arguing that the uncontradicted evidence established Harry’s negligence as the sole cause of the accident. In denying summary judgment, the federal judge stated that the evidence created a jury question as to Sullivan’s fault, and that “plaintiffs do not appear to dispute Harry Schroeder’s potential contributory negligence.” The parties settled and agreed to a release of claims, and the district court dismissed the case. Following the settlement agreement, release, and subsequent dismissal of the action against Sullivan, Helen filed suit against Harry in the Circuit Court of Lowndes County, alleging Harry negligently had failed to yield the right of way and pulled in front of Sullivan’s log truck at an extremely slow rate of speed, causing the accident which resulted in Helen’s permanent disability. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Harry and found that Helen was judicially estopped from bringing a claim against Harry. Helen appealed that order. The Mississippi Supreme Court found the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on the basis of the release agreement between Helen and Sullivan because Harry was not a signatory to it. View "Clark v. Neese" on Justia Law

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This matter stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the State of Mississippi against the defendant pharmacies. The State alleged deceptive trade practices and fraudulent reporting of inflated “usual and customary” prices in the defendant’s reimbursement requests to the Mississippi Department of Medicaid. The State argued that Walgreens, CVS, and Fred’s pharmacies purposefully misrepresented these prices to obtain higher prescription drug reimbursements from the State. Finding that the circuit court was better equipped to preside over this action, the DeSoto County Chancery Court transferred the matter to the DeSoto County Circuit Court in response to the defendants’ request. Aggrieved, the State timely filed an interlocutory appeal disputing the chancellor’s decision to transfer the case. After a thorough review of the parties’ positions, the Mississippi Supreme Court found that though the chancery court properly could have retained the action, the chancellor correctly used his discretion to transfer the case, allowing the issues to proceed in front of a circuit-court jury. As a result, the Supreme Court affirmed the chancellor’s decision. View "Mississippi v. Walgreen Co." on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from the Hinds County, Mississippi Circuit Court’s order granting in part Richard Chapman’s motion for post-conviction relief (PCR), following the Mississippi Supreme Court’s mandate in Chapman v. Mississippi, 167 So. 3d 1170 (Miss. 2015) (Chapman IV). In a five-to-four decision, a majority of the Court found that no direct appeal was taken from Chapman’s 1982 conviction for rape and life sentence, and ordered the trial court to conduct an evidentiary hearing to determine if the record and transcript from the jury trial still existed, and if not, whether something equivalent could be reconstructed. The parties reconstructed much of the record on remand, and the trial court granted Chapman leave to file an out-of-time appeal from his 1982 rape conviction and life sentence. Chapman appealed that ruling, claiming: (1) the record was less than adequate to allow an acceptable appeal to be prepared. Chapman maintains his trial counsel was constitutionally deficient for failing to file an appeal, or even a notice of appeal, even though Chapman claimed he paid counsel to do so; and (2) a life sentence imposed on a sixteen-year-old for a crime that was not a homicide constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Chapman argued his 1982 rape conviction should be reversed and the case dismissed or, in the alternative, remanded for a new trial. Having reviewed the reconstructed record, the Supreme Court found Chapman was not entitled to an out-of-time appeal. The Court confirmed: (1) Chapman’s trial record was not destroyed, as Chapman claimed throughout his multiple PCR petitions; and (2) Chapman had three years from April 17, 1984, when Mississippi’s Uniform Post-Conviction Collateral Relief Act (UPCCRA) went into effect, to petition for an out-of-time appeal but failed to do so. View "Richard Chapman v. State of Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Rickie Omar Smith was indicted on one count of armed robbery and one count of burglary of a dwelling. The jury found Smith guilty on both counts, and the circuit court sentenced Smith to thirty years for armed robbery and twenty-five years for burglary of a dwelling, with the sentences to run concurrently. Following the denial of Smith’s post trial motions, he appealed, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the jury’s verdict for armed robbery. Because the evidence was sufficient to sustain the jury’s verdict for armed robbery, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Smith v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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In 2013, Tarinika Smith and twelve minor children (collectively Plaintiffs) were involved in an automobile accident with a vehicle driven by Adlai Johnson. Smith was operating a passenger van owned by Mount Vernon Missionary Baptist Church (Mt. Vernon), located in Rossville, Tennessee, which was transporting the children. The accident occurred in Marshall County, Mississippi. At the time of the collision, Smith was pregnant. Plaintiffs and Johnson were all Tennessee residents. The Marshall County Circuit Court entered an order dismissing Johnson from the suit for Plaintiffs’ failure to timely serve him. Church Mutual Insurance Company (“Church Mutual”), Mt. Vernon's insurer, moved to have the trial court declare that Tennessee substantive law controlled the case. After the trial court so declared, Church Mutual moved for summary judgment based on Tennessee law prohibiting direct actions against insurers for uninsured motorist (“UM”) claims. The trial court then entered summary judgment in favor of Church Mutual. Plaintiffs sought interlocutory review of all three rulings. The Mississippi Supreme Court found no error in the dismissal of Johnson for Plaintiffs’ failure to serve. Furthermore, the Supreme Court found no error with the trial court applying Tennessee law to determine whether the contract provided UM coverage to Plaintiffs. However, the Court determined the trial court erred in applying Tennessee substantive law. Therefore, the Court reversed those judgments of the Marshall County Circuit Court and remand for further proceedings. View "Smith v. Church Mutual Insurance Company" on Justia Law

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On June 19, 2013, George “Leith” Hawkins (Hawkins), suffered a stroke while working at Heck Yea Quarter Horses, LLC (Heck Yea). Hawkins was hired to wash a wooden fence. After lunch he complained of feeling ill, but declined having an ambulance called. Hawkins slowly drove himself home. Connie Hawkins found her husband in bed with the covers pulled over his head. When she went to his truck to retrieve some Tylenol, Hawkins had moved from the bed to the living room couch. He fell off the couch "shaking and jerking." Connie called emergency dispatch, but her husband died at the hospital having suffered a stroke. Connie sued Heck Yea and other defendants for wrongful death, alleging Hawkins had been left alone “to tend to the fence, at which time he, due to the extreme heat, passed out in the field.” The trial court granted summary judgment to Heck Yea, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted Connie's petition for certiorari review to address whether the trial court and the Mississippi Court of Appeals erred in failing to take into account affidavits which created genuine issues of material fact with regard to the care Hawkins received at Heck Yea. Because the Supreme Court found summary judgment to have been proper, and the Mississippi Court of Appeals’ analysis on the matter to have been correct, it affirmed the lower courts' judgments in this case. View "Hawkins v. Heck Yea Quarter Horses, LLC" on Justia Law

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