Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi

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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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E.K. was adjudicated as a neglected child. Elizabeth A. King and Timothy King were E.K.'s parents; he was born 2001. With a history of ADHD, epilepsy, autism, mental disability and obsessive, compulsive disorder (OCD), E.K. functioned on the level of a two-year-old. Elizabeth and Timothy had been separated for two weeks at the time of the initial investigation in this case. They had been divorced for four years in the past before having remarried. In December 2015, the Mississippi Department of Human Services Division of Family and Children’s Services (“DHS”) was contacted by law enforcement officials about Elizabeth and E.K. Law enforcement officers on the scene were concerned that Elizabeth was high on drugs, due to her repetitive 911 calls. According to an investigative report prepared by DHS, Elizabeth secured a protective order against Timothy and changed the locks to her residence. Last, the report noted that DHS was ordered by the Marion County Youth Court “to open prevention case to monitor to [sic] safety in the home.” DHS ultimately directed a formal petition to adjudicate E.K. as a neglected child be entered. First, E.K. was adjudicated neglected even though her mother was not properly before the youth court and her father received no notice of the adjudication hearing. Second, after review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found that the neglect petition was legally insufficient to provide notice to E.K. or her parents of the neglect charges. Third, the evidence offered to support a finding of neglect at the adjudication hearing was legally insufficient. As such, the Supreme Court vacated the youth court’s adjudication order and rendered judgment in favor of E.K. and her parents. View "In the Interest of E.K." on Justia Law

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Memorial Hospital at Gulfport and Singing River Health System (“Hospitals”) sought judicial review of a June 24, 2016 administrative decision which found the Division of Medicaid’s (“DOM’s”) 2014 Fiscal Year Methodology “correctly interprets statutes and regulations and is neither arbitrary or capricious.” The chancellor affirmed the decision of DOM. Finding no evidence in the record before it that DOM failed to comply with Sections 43-13-117 and 43-13-145 in allocating and distributing supplemental payments to Mississippi hospitals, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Memorial Hospital at Gulfport v. Dzielak" on Justia Law

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This case arose from the tragic 2014 death of nine-year-old Patrauna Hudson, who drowned in flash-flood waters that swept through a drainage ditch that ran alongside her family’s residence. Patrauna’s estate (the “Estate”) filed suit against Yazoo City for wrongful death under the Mississippi Tort Claims Act (MTCA). The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Yazoo City (the “City”) on all claims filed against it by the Estate, having found Yazoo City immune from liability under both the discretionary-function exception and the open-and-obvious exception contained in Mississippi Code Section 11-46-9. The Estate appealed, maintaining that Yazoo City violated numerous city ordinances, along with certain federal regulations, when the City converted a portion of the drainage ditch downstream from the Hudson residence into a covered tunnel with two side-by-side culverts in 2007. The Estate argued that these laws imposed a ministerial duty upon Yazoo City, and the City breached that duty by failing to comply with all the mandatory requirements prescribed by these laws when the city implemented and carried out the 2007 project. Therefore, the Estate contended, the City was not immune from liability. The Mississippi Supreme Court found the Estate’s claim that Yazoo City is liable for the wrongful death of Patrauna failed as a matter of law for failure to state a cause of action. The Court also found the Estate abandoned its claim for negligently failing to maintain its drainage ditches. The Estate, however, abandoned this claim under the auspices of the test adopted by this Court in However, the Court found “slight evidence,” which if developed further, could create a genuine issue of fact with regard to this claim, and that the Estate should have been given the opportunity to do so. The Supreme Court found the trial court’s ruling as to the open-and-obvious exception provided by Section 11-46-9(1)(v) was premature in this case because factual questions remained. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hudson v. Yazoo City, Mississippi" on Justia Law

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The trial court granted the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors’ and the City of Brookhaven, Mississippi’s motions to dismiss Samuel Wilcher, Jr.’s personal injury suit, finding both governmental entities enjoyed discretionary-function immunity. In doing so, the judge employed the Mississsippi Supreme Court’s recently created test announced in Brantley v. City of Horn Lake, 152 So.3d 1106 (Miss. 2014). On appeal, the Court faced "head on one of the unintended but predicted consequences of Brantley—that the test forces parties and judges to wade through an ever-deepening quagmire of regulations and ordinances to locate 'ministerial' or 'discretionary' duties, overcomplicating the process of litigating and deciding claims involving governmental entities." Unfortunately, this methodology had proved unworkable. "Instead of trying to retool the Brantley test to somehow make it workable, we concede this short-lived idea, which was meant to be a course correction, has ultimately led this Court even farther adrift." The Court found it best to return to its original course of applying the widely recognized public-policy function test—the original Mississippi Tort Claims Act (MTCA) test first adopted by the Court in 1999. Applying the latter test to this case, the Supreme Court held that Wilcher’s claim that County and City employees negligently left an unfinished culvert installation overnight, without warning drivers they had removed but not yet replaced a bridge, was not barred by discretionary-function immunity. "Wilcher is not trying to second-guess a policy decision through tort. He is seeking to recover for injuries caused by run-of-the-mill negligence." Because, from the face of the complaint, the County and City were not immune, the Court reversed the grant of their motions to dismiss. View "Wilcher, Jr. v. Lincoln County Board of Supervisors" on Justia Law

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SW 98/99, LLC (“SW”), appealed a Pike County Chancery Court order dismissing its complaint with prejudice under Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b). SW filed objections to the tax assessments for the years 2005 and 2006 for several low-income housing properties, but those objections were denied. SW then filed a complaint at Chancery Court alleging that Pike County, the Pike County Board of Supervisors, and the Pike County Tax Assessor (collectively “the defendants”) had wrongfully and excessively assessed taxes on SW’s properties using an appraisal method not authorized by Section 27-35-50(4)(d). Along with SW’s chancery-court lawsuit, SW also appealed the property-tax assessments to the Pike County Circuit Court. This case and SW’s tax appeals proceeded separately along their own paths until March 2011, when the chancellor entered an order granting the defendants’ motion to stay the proceedings in this case pending final resolution of SW’s circuit-court tax appeals. By 2015, the Pike County Circuit Court granted summary judgment to SW on each of its tax appeals, ordering the defendants to refund SW’s overpayments for the years 2005 through 2012. The defendants moved for reconsideration. While this matter was still pending, SW’s attorney was concurrently involved in an unrelated case in federal district court. The district court contacted SW’s attorney to inquire as to his availability for a trial beginning September 14, 2015, one day before the trial setting in this tax assessment case. Because the circuit court had not yet ruled on the defendants’ motion for reconsideration in SW’s tax appeals, SW’s attorney believed that the chancellor’s stay of proceedings in this case remained in effect, as the circuit-court proceedings were not “finally resolved.” Because of this, SW’s attorney contacted the chancery court to request that the trial date be continued and removed from the trial docket. Although later disputed by the court administrator, SW’s attorney believed at this time that the case had been continued and that the trial setting had been removed from the docket. SW’s attorney then informed counsel for the defendants of the continuance. The defendants did not object to the continuance. The chancellor entered a show-cause order noting that SW had not appeared at its scheduled motions hearing and that neither of the parties had appeared on the scheduled trial date. The order acknowledged that “some telephonic communication was made by a staff member of Counsel to the Court Administrator regarding the prior Order staying this litigation.” The chancellor’s show-cause order concluded that SW’s lawsuit was “stale and in a posture to be dismissed for lack of prosecution inasmuch as Counsel set aside two full trial days on a heavily congested trial docket and failed to appear for trial.” Finding that the chancery court abused its discretion in ruling that SW had failed to prosecute its complaint, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the chancery court’s judgment and remanded this case to the chancery court for further proceedings. View "SW 98/99, LLC v. Pike County, Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Shortly after the adoption of its comprehensive zoning ordinance and map in 2014, in June 2015, the City of Ridgeland (“the City”) adopted an amendment creating as a permitted use in general commercial (“C-2”) districts a Large Master Planned Commercial Development (“LMPCD”). The amendment allowed uses previously prohibited in C-2 districts and created an opportunity for the potential location of a Costco Wholesale (“Costco”). Appellants were residents of the City who lived in nearby neighborhoods; they appealed the City’s decision, arguing that the amendments constituted illegal rezoning and/or spot zoning. The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and remanded, finding that because the City amended its zoning ordinance shortly after adopting a new comprehensive zoning ordinance and map in order to accommodate Costco, substantially changing the uses previously allowed in a C-2 district without showing a substantial change in neighborhood character, the amendments constituted an illegal rezoning. In addition, because the amendments were entirely designed to suit Costco, the amendments constituted illegal spot-zoning as well. Accordingly, the circuit court erred in finding that the Costco amendments were not arbitrary and capricious. View "Beard v. City of Ridgeland" on Justia Law

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Shortly after the adoption of its comprehensive zoning ordinance and map in 2014, in June 2015, the City of Ridgeland (“the City”) adopted an amendment creating as a permitted use in general commercial (“C-2”) districts a Large Master Planned Commercial Development (“LMPCD”). The amendment allowed uses previously prohibited in C-2 districts and created an opportunity for the potential location of a Costco Wholesale (“Costco”). Appellants were residents of the City who lived in nearby neighborhoods; they appealed the City’s decision, arguing that the amendments constituted illegal rezoning and/or spot zoning. The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and remanded, finding that because the City amended its zoning ordinance shortly after adopting a new comprehensive zoning ordinance and map in order to accommodate Costco, substantially changing the uses previously allowed in a C-2 district without showing a substantial change in neighborhood character, the amendments constituted an illegal rezoning. In addition, because the amendments were entirely designed to suit Costco, the amendments constituted illegal spot-zoning as well. Accordingly, the circuit court erred in finding that the Costco amendments were not arbitrary and capricious. View "Beard v. City of Ridgeland" on Justia Law

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Twelve Medicaid-participating hospitals (“Hospitals”) challenged the Department of Medicaid’s (“DOM’s”) recalculation of their Medicaid outpatient rates for fiscal year 2001. The chancery court affirmed the opinion of the DOM, finding that “DOM interpreted its own regulation – the State Plan, which is its contract with the federal government and which it is required to follow to receive federal funds to require Medicaid to calculate the cost to charge ratio by using Medicare Methodology, which at that time was using a blended rate.” The Mississippi Supreme Court found the plain language of Attachment 4.19-B of the State Plan provided a cost-to-charge-ratio formula for calculating outpatient rates. Laboratory and radiology charges were to be excluded from this formula, because they were reimbursed on a fee-for-service basis. DOM’s inclusion of radiology and laboratory services in the charges and substitution of costs with Medicare blended payment amounts was a clear violation of the State Plan. Therefore, the Court reversed the judgments of DOM and the chancery court. Consistent with its opinion, the Court remanded and ordered the Executive Director of DOM to recalculate the Hospitals’ cost-to-charge ratio using the Hospital’s submitted costs in their cost reports, excluding laboratory and radiology services, and reimbursing the Hospitals the appropriate amounts determined by using the State Plan. View "Crossgates River Oaks Hospital v. Mississippi Division of Medicaid" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs John Davis and Shad Denson filed a complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the City of Jackson, Mississippi (“City”). The plaintiffs, both taxicab drivers, sought: (1) a declaratory judgment that the City’s taxicab ordinances violate the Mississippi Constitution; and (2) an injunction to prevent the City from denying the plaintiffs a Certificate of Public Necessity for their failure to comply with the City’s ordinances. The City filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, citing Mississippi Code Section 11-51-75 (Rev. 2012), which required a bill of exceptions to be filed and transferred to circuit court when the complaining party was aggrieved by a discretionary action of a municipal governing authority. The chancery court granted the City’s motion to dismiss, finding it lacked jurisdiction to consider the case. The plaintiffs appealed. The Mississippi Supreme Court found the dismissal for lack of jurisdiction was proper, but for a different reason: plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the constitutionality of the City’s taxi ordinances because they failed to file or complete the required application to start a taxicab company in Jackson. View "Davis v. City of Jackson" on Justia Law