Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi
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The Mississippi Department of Revenue (Department) conducted an audit of the Mississippi corporate tax returns of The Williams Companies, Inc. (Williams), for the years 2008 through 2010. During the course of the audit, Williams filed amended returns removing the capital of its single-member limited-liability companies (SMLLCs) from its calculation of capital employed in the state, seeking a refund of franchise tax in the amount of $981,419. After the Department’s review of Williams’ records and returns, the Department issued an assessment. The calculation included the capital of Williams’ SMLLCs in Williams’ Mississippi franchise-tax base. This resulted in a refund of $231,641. Williams objected, arguing it should not have been assessed a franchise-tax on capital employed by its Mississippi subsidiaries because of ambiguous language in the Mississippi franchise tax statutes. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the holding of the chancery court that Williams could not exclude the capital of its SMLLCs from its franchise-tax base. View "The Williams Companies, Inc. v. Mississippi Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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HWCC-Tunica, LLC, and BSLO, LLC, had casino members’ rewards programs that allowed members to earn entries into random computerized drawings to win prizes. In 2014, after recalculating their gross revenue and deducting the costs of prizes from their rewards programs’ drawings, HWCC and BSLO filed individual refund claims for the tax period of October 1, 2011, through August 31, 2014. The Mississippi Department of Revenue (MDOR) denied the refund claims in 2015. HWCC and BSLO appealed, and MDOR and the Mississippi Gaming Commission (MGC) filed a joint motion for summary judgment, arguing the plain language of Mississippi Code Section 75-76-193 (Rev. 2016) does not allow a casino to deduct the cost of prizes purchased for a rewards program’s drawings because “these promotional giveaways are not the result of ‘a legitimate wager’ as used in [Mississippi Code Section] 75-76-193.” After a hearing on the motion, the chancellor determined that Section 75-76-193 does not allow HWCC and BSLO to deduct the cost of the prizes and that there were no genuine issues of material fact. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found the chancellor erred by giving deference to the MDOR’s and the MGC’s interpretations of Code Section 75-76-193. That error notwithstanding, the Supreme Court found the chancellor reached the right conclusion: that no genuine issues of material fact existed. Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed the chancellor’s grant of summary judgment. View "HWCC-Tunica, Inc. v. Mississippi Dept. of Revenue" on Justia Law

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Methodist Specialty Care Center was the only nursing facility for the severely disabled (NFSD) in Mississippi. NFSDs generally incur higher costs than other nursing facilities, and because of this, Methodist received a percentage adjustment to its new-bed-value (NBV) calculation when the Mississippi Division of Medicaid (DOM) determined how much it should reimburse Methodist for its property costs through the DOM’s fair-rental system. A NBV was intended to reflect what it would cost to put a new bed into service in a nursing facility today. Methodist had received a NBV adjustment of 328.178 percent added to the standard NBV every year since it opened in 2004 until State Plan Amendment (SPA) 15-004 was enacted. During the 2014 Regular Session, the Mississippi Legislature passed House Bill 1275, which authorized the DOM to update and revise several provisions within the State Plan; one such amendment changed Methodist's adjustment rate, and made the facility experience a substantial decrease in its NBV, while all other nursing facilities in the state received increases. Methodist appealed the DOM’s changes to its NBV that were enacted in SPA 15-004. After a hearing, an Administrative Hearing Officer (AHO) upheld the decreased percentage adjustment to Methodist’s NBV, but also determined the DOM had miscalculated Methodist’s NBV adjustment. The DOM had planned to calculate Methodist’s adjustment as 175 percent of the base NBV, but the AHO found that Methodist’s adjusted NBV should be calculated in the same manner as it was calculated preamendment - by taking 175 percent of the standard NBV and adding that value to the standard NBV. Methodist still felt aggrieved because its NBV adjustment rate had not been restored to the preamendment rate. Methodist appealed the DOM’s final decision to the Chancery Court. When the chancellor affirmed the DOM’s final decision, Methodist appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court. After review, the Supreme Court found the DOM’s final decision was supported by substantial evidence, was not arbitrary or capricious, did not violate Methodist’s constitutional or statutory rights and that the DOM was acting within its power in reaching and adopting its final decision. View "Methodist Specialty Care Center v. Mississippi Division of Medicaid" on Justia Law

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The Mississippi Division of Medicaid (DOM) appealed a chancery court judgment ordering the DOM to reverse the adjustments for “Legend Drug” costs reported by Windsor Place Nursing Center, Inc., d/b/a Windsor Place Nursing & Rehab Center (Windsor) and Billdora Senior Care, Lexington Manor Senior Care, and Magnolia Senior Care (collectively Senior Care). The chancery court found that legend drug expenses incurred by these providers were properly reported on each of their Long Term Care (LTC) cost reports as an allowable cost and should have been taken into account the by DOM in determining the per diem rates for each provider. The DOM contends that its decision to disallow the legend drug expenses claimed by the providers in their required cost report for reporting years 2005, 2007, and 2008 was supported by substantial evidence, was not arbitrary or capricious, and was within its authority to decide. Therefore, the chancery court’s order must be reversed and the DOM’s decision must be reinstated. The Mississippi Supreme Court agreed with the DOM. "No where in the controlling statutes, the state plan, or Medicaid’s policy do we see language that lends itself to a construction taken by the providers that all prescription drug costs “not covered” by the Medicaid drug program means drug costs 'not paid for' by Medicaid. ... While the DOM may have failed to catch this in the past, legend drugs covered by Medicaid’s Drug Program are subject to direct reimbursement from Medicaid to the dispensing pharmacist, and constitute a non-allowable cost for the provider’s pier diem reimbursement report. And any action taken to the contrary by Medicaid is a violation of its rules and regulations." View "Mississippi Division of Medicaid v. Windsor Place Nursing Center, Inc. et al." on Justia Law

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Angela Jones alleged she sustained a compensable back injury while working as a registered nurse at Baptist Hospital. A Workers’ Compensation Commission administrative judge determined that Jones sustained a compensable work-related injury. Baptist appealed the administrative judge’s decision to the full Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission, and the Commission reversed, determining Jones did not sustain a compensable work-related injury. Jones appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed the Commission's decision. Baptist then petitioned for the Mississippi Supreme Court's review. Finding the Commission's decision was supported by substantial evidence, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and reinstated the Commission's decision. View "Jones v. Mississippi Baptist Health Systems Inc." on Justia Law

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Matthew Wiggins appealed a decision of a special court of eminent domain to the County Court of Hinds County, Mississippi, approving the City of Clinton’s exercise of eminent domain. Wiggins bought property in March of 2016. At the time, the structures located there were dilapidated and were in need of extensive structural repairs. Soon after Wiggins took possession of the properties, Clinton found that the properties should be demolished due to neglect. Clinton assessed 1,434 separate code violations to property Wiggins owned. Wiggins pleaded guilty to the violations on January 26, 2017. Clinton then found additional violations against Wiggins at those properties and at other properties he owned in Clinton. Wiggins was found guilty of two violations by the County Court of Hinds County in 2018. The remaining violations were dismissed. In June 2018, Clinton adopted an urban-renewal plan. Wiggins' parcel was within the renewal area, and sought to take it. The special court found Clinton’s exercise of eminent domain proper. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found sufficient evidence in the special court record to support the taking my eminent domain. Similarly, the Court determined the record offered no evidence to demonstrate the determination of the special court was manifestly wrong. Therefore, judgment was affirmed. View "Wiggins. v. City of Clinton" on Justia Law

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In 2007, the Mississippi Department of Revenue (the Department) notified Caesars Entertainment, Inc. (Caesars), that an examination concerning its past tax returns, including its 2005 tax return, had been initiated and that the statutes of limitation in Mississippi Code Sections 27-7-49 and 27-13-49 were arrested. The Department concluded its examination on in early 2013, finding no overpayment or underpayment by Caesars. In February 2014, the Mississippi Supreme Court issued a decision that concerned a casino’s ability to use gaming license credits to offset its income tax liability. In response, Caesars filed an amended tax return seeking a refund for the period January 1 to June 13, 2005. The Department denied Caesars’ refund claim on the basis that the time to ask for a refund had expired. Both the Board of Review and Board of Tax Appeals affirmed the Department’s denial. Under Mississippi Code Section 27-77-7 (Rev. 2017), Caesars appealed the Department’s denial to the Chancery Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County. Both parties moved for summary judgment. The chancellor granted the Department’s motion for summary judgment, finding that Caesars’ refund claim was untimely. On appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court, Caesars argued Section 27-7-49(2) (Rev. 2017) extended the statute of limitations found in Section 27-7-313 (Rev. 2017), which gave a taxpayer additional time to file a refund claim after an audit and gave the Department additional time to determine a taxpayer’s correct tax liability and to issue a refund regardless of when a refund claim was submitted. The Department argued Section 27-7-49(2) applied only to the Department and its time frame to examine and issue an assessment. After review, the Supreme Court found Caesars' time to file an amended tax refund claim was not tolled or extended, and that the Department had three years to examine a taxpayer's tax liability, absent exceptions under Section 27-7-49. Therefore, the Court affirmed the chancellor's grant of summary judgment to the Department. View "Caesars Entertainment, Inc. v. Mississippi Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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Daniel Tewksbury and Bobbie Young were previously married and were the parents of two minor children, Lane and Emma. They divorced in May 2006, and Daniel was ordered to pay child support. Daniel stopped making child-support payments in 2008. Bobbie later married Gerald Young, Jr. Gerald filed a petition to adopt Lane and Emma. In the adoption, Daniel’s parental rights were terminated. As of the termination of his parental rights, Daniel owed Bobbie $34,759 for child support. On April 5, 2015, Daniel died in an automobile accident. The accident occurred while Daniel was in the course and scope of his employment with Air Masters Mechanical, Inc. Bobbie then filed a petition with the Workers’ Compensation Commission on behalf of Lane and Emma, claiming that the children were entitled to Daniel’s workers’ compensation death-benefit proceeds and sought the payment of the $34,759 in outstanding child support. The Workers’ Compensation Commission Administrative Judge (AJ) determined that the child-support lien of $34,759 was valid and payable under Section 71-3-129. Air Masters and Associated General Contractors filed a petition for review with the Commission. The Commission concluded that Lane and Emma were not entitled to Daniel’s death benefits because they were not his statutory dependents under Mississippi Code Section 71-3-25 (Supp. 2019). The Commission reversed the AJ’s order and dismissed Bobbie’s petition. On appeal, a divided Court of Appeals reversed the Commission’s decision, concluding the child-support lien was valid. The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed, finding Section 71-3-129 did not authorize a lien on death benefits payable directly to the deceased employee’s statutory dependents. Accordingly, the child-support lien did not apply to Daniel’s death benefits. Further, because Daniel had no statutory dependents, there were simply no benefits to which the lien can attach in this case. As a result, the Commission properly dismissed the claim. The judgment of the Court of Appeals was reversed. The judgment of the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission was reinstated and affirmed. View "Young v. Air Masters Mechanical Inc." on Justia Law

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The Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services (ITS) issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for telecommunications services. After vendors responded, ITS selected the proposal submitted by Telepak Networks, Inc., d/b/a C Spire (C Spire) for a statewide voice and data network. AT&T Corp. (AT&T) protested the award, arguing that ITS’s award of the contract to C Spire was erroneous because C Spire’s proposal did not match the specifications set forth in the RFP. ITS denied AT&T’s challenge, and it appealed. The Chancery Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County affirmed, finding that ITS’s award of the contract to C Spire was not arbitrary and capricious or unsupported by substantial evidence. AT&T appealed. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court held that the ITS decision that C Spire’s proposal matched the RFP’s specifications was supported by substantial evidence and was not arbitrary and capricious. Therefore, we affirm. View "AT&T Corp. v. Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services" on Justia Law

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Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency on January 27, 2014, in anticipation of an imminent winter storm. In response to the governor’s declaration, Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) placed limestone material on roadways as a remedial measure. Four days after the state of emergency was declared, Kenneth Musgrove lost control of his car and crashed on Highway 37, where MDOT had placed the limestone material, severely injuring his wife and himself. The Musgroves filed a complaint against MDOT for damages from the car accident. MDOT filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that it was participating in emergency-management services under the Mississippi Emergency Management Law (MEML) and therefore was immune from liability. The trial court denied MDOT’s motion for summary judgment, finding that there was a “genuine issue of material fact as to whether MDOT exercised due care in maintaining the road by placing gravel on the road and failing to warn drivers” of the gravel. MDOT timely filed its petition for interlocutory appeal, arguing that the MEML explicitly grants state agencies complete immunity from liability and that the trial court had erred by applying the standards set forth in the Mississippi Tort Claims Act (MTCA) instead of applying the willful-misconduct standard set forth in the MEML. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found MDOT indeed had immunity under the MEML, and that the trial court erred by applying the MTCA’s immunity standards instead of applying the MEML’s standard. View "Mississippi Department of Transportation v. Musgrove" on Justia Law