Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi
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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

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In the early morning hours of February 7, 2013, Vicksburg Police Officers Russell Dorsey and Diawardrick Grover were dispatched to Herbert Williams’s residence as a result of a 911. Williams called 911 because he discharged his firearm at his neighbor’s dog. After Officer Dorsey arrived at Williams’s house, Williams explained his reasons for discharging his firearm. Williams stated that he shot at the ground near the dog in an attempt to prevent an attack by the dog. Officer Grover arrived a few minutes after Officer Dorsey, and he interviewed Jacqueline Knight Holt, the owner of the dog. Officer Grover observed the dog, and he described the dog as "small and scared." After Officers Dorsey and Grover conducted an investigation, Officer Dorsey arrested Williams for unnecessarily discharging a firearm in the city in violation of Vicksburg’s city ordinance. In July 2014, Williams filed a complaint against the City under the MTCA in the Circuit Court of Warren County. Williams alleged that “said Police Officers grossly and negligently arrested Plaintiff for no good cause, causing Plaintiff damages physically and psychologically.” Williams sued the City of Vicksburg (City) for injuries he allegedly sustained after his arrest. The Circuit Court, sitting without a jury under the Mississippi Tort Claims Act (MTCA), entered a judgment in favor of Williams. However, because the City was entitled to immunity, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed. View "City of Vicksburg v. Williams" on Justia Law

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An unsuccessful bidder on managed-care contracts for MississippiCAN, the state’s managed-care program, argued that the Division of Medicaid and its executive director violated multiple statutes and regulations in procuring the contracts. Mississippi True appealed the decision of the chancery court affirming the Division of Medicaid’s award of the contracts to three other companies and the chancery court’s order denying its motion to sever and transfer its damages claims to circuit court. The Mississippi Supreme Court "thoroughly reviewed the voluminous record" and concluded that Mississippi True has failed to prove any basis for reversal. "The decision of the DOM was supported by substantial evidence, was not arbitrary or capricious, was not beyond the DOM’s power to make, and did not violate Mississippi True’s statutory or constitutional rights." View "Mississippi True v. Dzielak et al." on Justia Law

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Rhonda Smith appeals the Smith County Circuit Court’s grant of summary judgment to the Mississippi Transportation Commission (MTC). In 2010, Smith collided with a loaded logging truck. The truck was driven by Shelby Colson on Highway 28 in Smith County, Mississippi. Colson testified that he began slowing his vehicle because Joe Blackwell, an MTC employee, approached the truck from the side of the highway. He said Blackwell approached from under a tree canopy carrying a stop sign. Colson further said he had not seen any warning signs indicating that road work was occurring ahead or that he needed to slow his vehicle down before spotting Blackwell. Colson said Blackwell made no effort to wave the sign or to get his attention. He stopped because he was unsure what Blackwell was doing. Regardless of what prompted Colson to stop, Smith’s car rear ended Colson’s truck. Smith had no recollection of most of the events that occurred that morning. In June 2011, she brought suit against the MTC. The suit alleged that both Blackwell and the MTC were negligent in Blackwell’s posting, the sign placement, as well as Blackwell’s signaling. The MTC argued that Smith’s claims were preempted by the MTC’s discretionary-function immunity under Mississippi Code Section 11–46–9(1)(d) (Rev. 2015). As the Court of Appeals noted, “the precedent governing that question has evolved even during the pendency of this case . . . .” In Bailey v. City of Pearl, 282 So. 3d 669, 671(Miss. Ct. App. 2019), the Mississippi Court of Appeals correctly applied the public-policy function test articulated in the recent decision Wilcher v. Lincoln County Board of Supervisors, 243 So. 3d 177 (Miss. 2018). Similar to Bailey, not all of Smith’s theories of recovery were disposed of by summary judgment. As in Wilcher and Bailey, issues of material fact remainrf regarding the MTC’s liability. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the Smith County Circuit Court’s grant of summary judgment to the extent Smith’s claims were grounded in the MTC’s decision-making processes, but it was reversed concerning Smith’s claims unrelated to the MTC’s decision-making processes. View "Smith v. Mississippi Transportation Commission" on Justia Law

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The Mississippi State Department of Health entered a final order approving a Certificate of Need for Wound Care Management, LLC, d/b/a MedCentris for the “[p]rovision of [d]igital [s]ubtraction [a]ngiography (DSA) services (Limb Salvage Program).” Vicksburg Healthcare, LLC, d/b/a Merit Health River Region, a hospital in Vicksburg that opposed the certificate of need, appealed the Department’s statutorily affirmed decision pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 41-7-201(2) (Rev. 2018). After considering the record and issues presented, the Mississippi Supreme Court entered an order on its own motion requiring supplemental briefing regarding whether Section 41-7-201(2), as amended, governed the appeal process pertaining to facilities established for the private practice, either independently or by incorporated medical groups of physicians. The Supreme Court held that River Region lacked the right to petition the chancery court for review of the certificate of need under Section 41-7-201(2). Accordingly, the Supreme Court dismissed the case and remanded it to the Hinds County Chancery Court for further proceedings. View "Vicksburg Healthcare, LLC v. Mississippi Dept. of Health & Wound Care Management, LLC" on Justia Law

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At stake in this appeal before the Mississippi Supreme Court was the ability of Hobbs Construction, LLC, to continue doing business in the state as a commercial general contractor. The Mississippi State Board of Contractors revoked the certificate of responsibility (COR) held by Hobbs. The chancery court granted Hobbs’s motion for a preliminary injunction and enjoined the Board’s revocation decision during the pendency of the appeal. Later the chancery court entered an order reversing the Board’s decision and reinstating Hobbs’s COR. The Board appealed, arguing that the chancery court erred because the Board’s revocation decision was supported by substantial evidence, was not arbitrary and capricious, was within the Board’s power to make, and did not violate Hobbs’s statutory or constitutional rights. The Board argued also that the chancery court erred by granting a preliminary injunction. The Supreme Court determined the Board violated Hobbs’s constitutional right to due process of law by not providing sufficient notice of the charges that were considered at the revocation hearing and were a basis for the revocation decision, therefore it affirmed the chancery court's. Furthermore, the Supreme Court found the chancery court did not err by granting a preliminary injunction. View "Mississippi State Board of Contractors v. Hobbs Construction, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Mississippi Department of Revenue (MDOR) and the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Mississippi filed suit against Wine Express, Inc., Gold Medal Wine Club, and Bottle Deals, Inc., in Mississippi Chancery Court. In early 2017, the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Division of the Mississippi Department of Revenue and the Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement Division of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office investigated the shipment of wine and other alcoholic beverages into the state. The investigation revealed that most Internet retailers made it “impossible” to place an order for alcoholic beverages once it was disclosed that the shipment would be to a location in Mississippi. This, however, was not so for the Defendants’ websites. In December 2017, the State sued the Defendants for injunctive relief to enforce the provisions of the “Local Option Alcoholic Beverage Control Law.” The State sought injunctive relief, disgorgement, monetary relief, attorneys’ fees, and punitive damages. Defendants moved for dismissal claiming that Mississippi courts lack personal jurisdiction over Defendants. After a hearing on the matter, the trial court granted Defendants’ motion. The State appealed. The Mississippi Supreme Court found that the trial court erred by finding that it lacked personal jurisdiction over the Defendants. View "Fitch v. Wine Express Inc." on Justia Law

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In May 2015, the Chickasaw County School District entered into a contract with Sullivan Enterprises, Inc., for window restoration work on the Houlka Attendance Center. In July 2015, during construction, a fire began that completely consumed the attendance center. Liberty Mutual, the school district’s insurer, paid the school district $4.3 million for the damage to the building. Liberty Mutual then filed a subrogation suit against Sullivan Enterprises, Fowlkes Plumbing, LLC, and Quality Heat & Air, Inc. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi found that the waiver of subrogation did not apply to damages to the “non-Work” property, thus Liberty Mutual could proceed in litigation as to “non-Work” property damages. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit allowed an interlocutory appeal and certified a question to the Mississippi Supreme Court regarding whether the subrogation waiver applied to “non-Work” property. The Supreme Court determined that based on the plain meaning of the contract language, the waiver of subrogation applied to both work and non-work property. View "Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co. v. Fowlkes Plumbing, L.L.C." on Justia Law

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Justin Herrington, a law-enforcement officer with the Columbia Police Department, was convicted of violating Mississippi Code Section 97-3-104, which prohibited sexual activity between a law-enforcement employee and an offender on correctional supervision. The trial court ordered Herrington to register as a sex offender under Mississippi Code Sections 45-33-21 through 45-33-51. The trial court then amended its order and removed Herrington’s registration requirement. The Mississippi Department of Public Safety (MDPS) appealed and argued that the trial court erred by removing Herrington’s requirement to register as a sex offender. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed and reversed the trial court’s order dispensing with Herrington’s registration requirement. View "Mississippi Department of Public Safety v. Herrington" on Justia Law