Articles Posted in Mississippi Supreme Court

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Plaintiffs Frank Schmidt Sr. and other former parishioners of the St. Paul Catholic Church in Pass Christian appealed the second dismissal with prejudice of their claims against the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi, Inc., Most Reverend Thomas J. Rodi, and Rev. Dennis Carver. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The storm caused extensive damage to the St. Paul Catholic Church and its ancillary properties. The actual church building was also damaged, although the extent of the damage is disputed by the parties. Plaintiffs insisted that the church remains structurally sound, that many of its sacred articles were unharmed, and that repair costs should be less than $2.5 million. Church Defendants maintain that the church and its most sacred places were “destroyed in large part.” Bishop Rodi issued a decree merging the St. Paul and Our Lady of Lourdes Parishes to form a new parish called the Holy Family Parish. The decree stated that the Holy Family Parish would maintain two church edifices, St. Paul Church and Our Lady of Lourdes Church. A number of St. Paul’s former parishioners, including some of the Plaintiffs in this case, filed a canonical appeal through the Roman Catholic Church’s ecclesiastical tribunals. In 2007, the Vatican issued a decree which stated that Bishop Rodi had acted in accordance with the requirements and procedures set forth under canon law. While the canonical appeal was pending, 157 former parishioners filed suit asserting, in part, that Bishop Rodi held the St. Paul Church property in trust for the members, that any financial contributions designated for reconstruction of the church were held in trust for that particular purpose, that Church Defendants had violated said trusts, and that Father Carver had made misrepresentations in soliciting donations for the rebuilding efforts. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed in part, finding that Plaintiffs lacked standing to assert the St. Paul property was held in trust for their benefit. However, the Court reversed and remanded the chancellor’s dismissal of the diversion-of-designated funds claim, as well as the claim against Father Carver for intentional misrepresentation, finding subject-matter jurisdiction existed over these claims. On remand, the chancellor denied Plaintiffs’ motions for additional discovery and granted Church Defendants’ motion for summary judgment, dismissing Plaintiffs’ claims with prejudice. Plaintiffs argued on appeal that the chancellor erred in dismissing their claims for diversion of designated funds and intentional misrepresentation. Because none of the Plaintiffs established the requisite elements for a diversion of designated funds, the Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment on this issue. In addition, because no Plaintiffs could establish a claim for intentional misrepresentation, the Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment on this issue. Therefore, the Court affirmed the Chancery Court's judgment. View "Kinney v. Catholic Diocese of Biloxi, Inc." on Justia Law

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Roy and Mitzi Conn sued their neighbor Joel Misita, who had placed a structure on his land. The Conns sought to enforce a warranty deed restriction placed by their predecessors in title that prohibited Misita from erecting any “structures” on three acres of his land. The chancery court ruled in favor of the Conns and ordered the removal of the structure. The Court of Appeals affirmed the Conns’ authority to enforce the restrictive covenant but reversed the chancery court’s determination that it was a structure. After review of the facts of this case, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court found the structure was indeed a structure. View "Misita v. Conn" on Justia Law

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Tom and Consandra Christmas own property neighboring an alligator-infested, waste disposal site owned by Exxon. They sued Exxon, claiming the alligator infestation was a nuisance. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Exxon, based on the statute of limitations and the prior-trespass doctrine. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded based on a factual dispute as to when the Christmases had learned of the alligator infestation. The Supreme Court found Exxon was entitled to summary judgment because it cannot be held liable for the presence of wild alligators on its property. Accordingly, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ judgment and reinstated and affirmed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Exxon. View "Christmas v. Exxon Mobil Corporation" on Justia Law

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The residence of Brent and Amy Hubbard secured a note and deed of trust held by Trustmark National Bank. Additionally, the Hubbards obtained a second loan, which was secured by a note and second deed of trust held by BancorpSouth on the same residence. Trustmark foreclosed on the first deed of trust and sold the property. More than a year later, BancorpSouth sued the Hubbards for money due under the second note. The Hubbards admitted they were in default, but asserted as an affirmative defense that BancorpSouth’s claim was time barred under the one-year statute of limitations prescribed in Mississippi Code Section 15-1-23. After a hearing on the motion, the circuit court found Section 15-1-23 inapplicable and ruled instead that Mississippi Code Section 15-1-49 provides the proper limitations period (three years). The circuit court entered judgment in favor of BancorpSouth. On appeal, the Hubbards argued that the circuit court erred in granting BancorpSouth’s judgment on the pleadings because the action was barred by the one-year statute of limitations prescribed by Section 15-1-23. The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s grant of judgment on the pleadings. However, the three-year statute of limitations provided under Section 15-1-49 was inapplicable in this case; the proper limitations period for suits on promissory notes for nonforeclosing lenders is Mississippi Code Section 75-3-118, which provided a six-year statute of limitations, rather than the three-year statute of limitations set forth in Section 15-1-49. View "Hubbard v. BancorpSouth Bank " on Justia Law

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BancorpSouth Bank filed a complaint for declaratory judgment, judicial foreclosure, and other relief against Van Buren Group, LLC, a corporation that organized the construction of thirty condominiums in Oxford. Four purchasers and two members moved for summary judgment, which the chancellor granted. The Court of Appeals affirmed the grant of summary judgment as to the four purchasers; however, it reversed and remanded as to the two members. The Supreme Court granted BancorpSouth’s subsequent petition for writ of certiorari. After review of the matter, the Supreme Court held that that an issue of material fact existed with respect to the purchasers. Therefore, the Court reversed the chancery court’s grant of summary judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "BancorpSouth Bank v. Brantley, Jr." on Justia Law

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In an interlocutory appeal from Chancery Court, the issue before the Supreme Court was whether plaintiff Ralph Saulters alleged sufficient ownership interest in a disputed piece of land to sustain his complaint to clear title to his alleged remainder interest; whether the various allegations in his complaint fell under the ten-year statute of limitations to recover land or the general three-year statute of limitations governing fraud; and whether the relevant statute of limitations had expired. The chancellor denied the defendants' motion to dismiss, holding that plaintiff's valid claims were not time-barred. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed the chancellor’s holding that the claim to quiet title was not barred by the statute of limitations. However, because any claims for actual and punitive damages were barred as untimely, the Court reversed the chancellor’s holding as applied to plaintiff's claims for damages. View "Lott v. Saulters" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Stephen Johnson was arrested and convicted for driving on a suspended license (in the third degree). His license had been suspended for failing to pay a traffic fine. Johnson appealed his DWLS 3rd conviction, arguing: (1) the former RCW 46.20.342(1)(c)(iv) (2008) did not proscribe his continuing to drive after the suspension of his license for failing to pay a traffic fine; or alternatively, (2) that because he was indigent, the suspension was invalid under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution's due process and equal protection clauses, which required the State to inquire into his ability to pay the fine before suspending his license. Furthermore, Johnson argued the trial court erred by denying him counsel to fight these charges, and wanted reimbursement for attorney fees spent in his defense. The Supreme Court rejected Johnson's arguments on appeal, but remanded the case for further proceedings to determine Johnson's right to reimbursement for attorney fees. The plain meaning of former RCW 46.20.342(1 )( c )(iv) allows the State to convict a driver for DWLS 3rd where the underlying license suspension occurred for failure to pay a fine. Johnson was not constitutionally indigent, but statutorily so; on remand, the Supreme Court instructed the district court to enter an order designating Johnson either as (1) indigent or (2) indigent and able to contribute. If Johnson is able to contribute, the district court would have to enter an order determining the costs he should bear for his appeal. View "Cade v. Beard" on Justia Law

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Elise and Frank Noone were married, and jointly owned approximately sixty-seven acres of land as joint tenants with right of survivorship. Frank and Elise claimed a homestead exemption on the property. Elise filed for divorce, but the chancellor denied the divorce. The issue before the Supreme Court in this case centered on the interpretation of Mississippi Code Section 11-21-1(2) (Rev. 2004); specifically whether the statute prohibited one spouse from obtaining a partition of jointly owned property by chancery decree against the other. The chancellor held that Section 11-21-1 wholly prohibits the partitioning of spousal property by chancery decree, even to the extent that the property has a value greater than the $75,000 protected from creditors. Finding no error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Noone v. Noone" on Justia Law

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The chancery court found that certain property once owned by Gocher and Reba Morrow vested in their estates at the time of their deaths and passed by intestate succession in equal shares to their three sons, Phillip, Ronald, and Joel. Phillip appealed, arguing that he held a remainder interest and the property vested in him at his parents’ death. The Court of Appeals affirmed. After its review, the Supreme Court found that the chancery court erred by not quieting and confirming title to the property in Phillip, and reversed the Court of Appeals and the chancery court. View "Morrow v. Morrow" on Justia Law

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A large sinkhole developed behind the property of T.L. Carraway. A culvert system failed, causing the hole. The culvert system drained Eastover Lake, which was maintained by the owners whose properties surrounded the Lake. Carraway filed suit against the Owners; the Owners filed third-party complaints for indemnity against the City of Jackson, alleging that the City's sewer line repairs caused the system failure and in turn, the sinkhole. The chancellor found the Owners and the City jointly and severally liable for the repair of the culvert system. All defendants appealed that decision. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed in part, finding no merit to the arguments made by the Owners and City. However the Court found the chancellor erred by ordering joint and several liability. The case was reversed and remanded for redetermination of defendants' respective allocations of fault as to be determined by the chancery court. View "Borne v. Estate of T. L. Carraway, Jr." on Justia Law