Justia Mississippi Supreme Court Opinion Summaries
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
Galloway v. Mississippi
Leslie “Bo” Galloway’s was convicted by jury of the capital murder of Shakeylia Anderson. Galloway’s conviction and sentence were affirmed by the Mississippi Supreme Court on direct appeal. His motion for rehearing was subsequently denied, and he sought relief from the United States Supreme Court by way of a petition for writ of certiorari, which was denied on May 27, 2014. Galloway returned to the Mississippi Supreme Court with a Motion for Leave to Proceed in the Trial Court with a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, and his subsequently filed Motion for Leave to Proceed in the Trial Court with Amended Petition for Post-Conviction Relief. The Supreme Court treated both filings together as one and referred to it as Galloway’s amended petition for post-conviction relief. Finding no error, the Court denied his amended petition. View "Galloway v. Mississippi" on Justia Law
Warrington v. Watkins & Eager, PLLC, et al.
James Warrington, individually and as parent and legal natural guardian of his minor children J.P.W., Kingsley Elise Warrington, and Wesley Ann Warrington, appealed the trial court’s dismissal of his second complaint for impermissible claim splitting. Because the doctrine of claim splitting was inapplicable, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s dismissal of the second complaint, and remanded this case to the trial court with instructions to reinstate the second complaint and to proceed with litigation. View "Warrington v. Watkins & Eager, PLLC, et al." on Justia Law
Priceline.com Incorporated n/k/a Booking Holdings, Inc., et al. v. Mississippi
"This case hinges on whether Online Travel Companies (OTCs) are encompassed by the definition of hotels found in Mississippi Code Section 41-49-3 (Rev. 2023) and are therefore subject to the tax levied against hotels in Mississippi Code Section 27-65-23 (Rev. 2017)." The chancery court found that the tax was a broad transaction tax that encompassed the OTCs. The chancery court granted partial summary judgment in favor of the State on the issue of liability, rendering the OTCs liable for more than $10 million in past due taxes. The trial court further found that the OTCs had acted willfully and knowingly and in intentional disregard and assessed penalties and interest for a total judgment of more than $50 million. The Mississippi Supreme Court found that the OTCs were not hotels as contemplated by Section 41-49-3. Therefore, the Court reversed the trial court’s grant of partial summary judgment in favor of the State on the issue of liability and renders judgment in favor of the OTCs. View "Priceline.com Incorporated n/k/a Booking Holdings, Inc., et al. v. Mississippi" on Justia Law
Rhea v. Career General Agency, Inc., et al.
The facts of this case involved the formation of a promissory note between James Rhea and Career General Agency, Inc, GuideOne America Insurance Co. and Dennis Basden. The promissory note was allegedly signed in 2007 and paid off by 2017. Rhea filed this suit in 2018 claiming unconscionability, unjust enrichment, conversion and negligent infliction of emotional distress against Career General. Career General filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that the general three year statute of limitations expired in 2010. Rhea argued that under the doctrine of equitable estoppel and the continuing tort doctrine, the statute of limitations did not begin to run until he finished paying the note in 2017. In February 2020, the trial court granted Career General’s motion to dismiss finding that equitable estoppel and the continuing tort doctrine did not apply and that the statute of limitations barred Rhea’s claim. Ninety-nine days later, Rhea filed a “Motion for New Trial, Amended Judgment or Reconsideration under Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 59” stating that he had not received notice of the court’s order and asking the court to reconsider whether equitable estoppel and the continuing tort doctrine should apply. In June 2020, Career General responded to the Rule 59 motion and argued that Rhea had failed to present: (1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) new evidence not previously available; or (3) a need to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice. But Career General did not raise the issue of timeliness in their response. After a hearing in April 2021, the trial court denied Rhea's motion. The Mississippi Supreme Court found after review that the Court of Appeals in this case reached the correct decision but for the wrong reason. Regardless of whether the parties or the court raised the issue of timeliness, the Supreme Court held the Court of Appeals correctly found that it did not have appellate jurisdiction to review the February 2020 order. The judgment of the Court of Appeals was thus affirmed. View "Rhea v. Career General Agency, Inc., et al." on Justia Law
Virden v. Campbell Delong, LLP, et al.
A Mississippi circuit court granted law firm Campbell DeLong, LLP, a declaratory judgment against a former partner of the firm, Britt Virden, who had alleged breach of contract, among other claims. Virden appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. On certiorari review, the Supreme Court found that Virden’s prewithdrawal claims were not precluded by a signed agreement, which only came into operation in the event of death, termination, withdrawal, or retirement of a partner. The Supreme Court therefore reversed the appellate and circuit court judgments and remanded the case for the circuit court to allow Virden an opportunity to maintain an action against his former firm for breach of an implied contract regarding partner compensation. View "Virden v. Campbell Delong, LLP, et al." on Justia Law
S.F. v. Lamar County Department of Child Protection Services, et al.
Child Protection Services (CPS) petitioned to terminate the parental rights of both parents of three minor children who were sexually abused by their father. The mother, S.F., objected and argued that she should not lose her parental rights. The trial court granted CPS’s petition and terminated the rights of both parents. S.F. appealed. The Mississippi Supreme Court found that through the totality of the circumstances and the evidence presented to the youth court satisfied the grounds for termination. Because S.F. lacked protective capacity toward her children, the youth court did not err by finding clear and convincing evidence that termination was appropriate. As such, the Court affirmed. View "S.F. v. Lamar County Department of Child Protection Services, et al." on Justia Law
Powers v. Mississippi
A jury sentenced Stephen Powers to death for the attempted rape and murder of Elizabeth Lafferty. After the Mississippi Supreme Court denied post-conviction relief, Powers sought federal habeas relief at the federal district court. The district court stayed federal habeas proceedings to give the Mississippi courts an opportunity to rule on unexhausted claims. In general, Powers argued: (1) he was mentally incompetent; (2) he was denied his right to a fair, impartial jury; (3) trial counsel was ineffective during jury selection for not challenging the prosecution’s peremptory strikes based on Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986); (4) as a matter of federal due process, the attempted-rape evidence was insufficient; (5) trial and post-conviction counsel were ineffective concerning the guilt phase; (6) trial counsel’s “total dereliction” at sentencing requires application of United States v. Cronic, 466 U.S. 648 (1984), not Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984); (7) even if Cronic was inapplicable, trial counsel was ineffective under Strickland; and (8) cumulative error. Taking each issue raised under careful consideration, the Mississippi Supreme Court denied Powers' request for postconviction relief. View "Powers v. Mississippi" on Justia Law
Saunders, et al. v. Mississippi
This appeal stemmed from the Mississippi Legislature’s passing and the Governor’s signing of House Bill 1020. The catalyst for the Legislature’s passing of House Bill 1020 was described as the “sweltering, undisputed and suffocating” crime problem in Jackson, Mississippi—a problem that has “crippled the criminal justice system.” While political and social controversy surrounded this bill, the bulk of the bill’s provisions, which are aimed at improving public safety and bolstering judicial resources in Jackson, were not at issue. Section 1 of House Bill 1020, directed the Mississippi Supreme Court’s Chief Justice to appoint four additional (and unelected) circuit judges to the existing Seventh Circuit Court District—the district comprised of the City of Jackson and all of Hinds County—for a term ending December 31, 2026. The second challenged provision, Section 4 of House Bill 1020, was a more ambitious endeavor that created a new statutory inferior court, much like a municipal court, to serve the CCID. Petitioners, and Jackson residents, Ann Saunders, Sabreen Sharrief, and Dorothy Triplett (collectively, Saunders) claimed both provisions violated Mississippi’s Constitution. The Hinds County Chancellor J. Dewayne Thomas, who held hearings on Saunders’s challenges, disagreed and dismissed her complaint. Saunders appealed. After review, the Supreme Court agreed with the chancellor that the creation of the CCID inferior court in Section 4 of House Bill 1020 was constitutional. But the Court agreed with Saunders that Section 1’s creation of four new appointed “temporary special circuit judges” in the Seventh Circuit Court District for a specified, almost-four-year term violated the State Constitution’s requirement that circuit judges be elected for a four-year term. View "Saunders, et al. v. Mississippi" on Justia Law
Jenkins v. Mississippi
Rita Ann Jenkins appealed her conviction for driving under the influence (DUI), third offense. She argued the trial judge erred by granting a jury instruction that eliminated the prosecution’s burden to prove she was “driving in a state of intoxication that lessen[ed] [her] normal ability for clarity and control.” She also argued the trial judge erred by denying a jury instruction that presented her theory of defense. Finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed Jenkins’ conviction and sentence. View "Jenkins v. Mississippi" on Justia Law