Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
Pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 27-35-119 (Rev. 2017), Natchez Hospital Company, LLC, (“Hospital”) filed a Complaint and Petition For Reduction of Assessment on Software. This ad valorem assessment was made by the Adams County Board of Supervisors (“Board”). Prior to appealing to the circuit court, the Hospital paid the ad valorem taxes as assessed. The Board filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, arguing that the Hospital had failed to post the necessary appeal bond required by Mississippi Code Section 11-51-77 (Rev. 2012), thus depriving the circuit court of jurisdiction. Following a hearing on the motion, the circuit court determined that the Hospital’s failure to post the bond under Section 11-51-77 deprived the court of jurisdiction to hear the appeal and granted the Board’s motion to dismiss. The Hospital appealed the circuit court’s decision to dismiss the case, asking only whether the bond requirement of Mississippi Code Section 11-51-77 was mandatory to confer jurisdiction on a circuit court to hear an appeal from a decision of a board of supervisors regarding an assessment of taxes. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined the Hospital paid the tax, but that was no excuse for not posting the bond to give the trial court jurisdiction to hear its complaint. Therefore, the Supreme Court affirmed dismissal of the Hospital’s case. View "Natchez Hospital Company, LLC v. Adams County Board of Supervisors" on Justia Law

by
Bettye Logan sustained a compensable leg injury while employed at Klaussner Furniture Corporation d/b/a Bruce Furniture Industries (“Klaussner”). An Administrative Judge (“AJ”), and the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission (“Commission”), found that Logan had suffered a sixty-percent loss of industrial use to her left lower extremity, which entitled her to 105 weeks of compensation set at $331.06 for her “scheduled-member” injury under Mississippi Code Section 71-3-17(c)(2). Logan appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the Commission and the AJ had applied the incorrect part of Section 71-3-17 and that either subsection (a) or subsection (c)(25) of the statute, and not subsection (c)(2), applied. Klaussner and the American Casualty Company, the carrier, petitioned the Mississippi Supreme Court for review. The Court determined the Commission and the AJ properly awarded Logan permanent-partial disability benefits under Section 71-3-17(c)(2). Accordingly, it reversed the Court of Appeals and reinstated and affirmed the holding of the AJ and Commission. View "Logan v. Klaussner Furniture Corp." on Justia Law

by
Bettye Logan sustained a compensable leg injury while employed at Klaussner Furniture Corporation d/b/a Bruce Furniture Industries (“Klaussner”). An Administrative Judge (“AJ”), and the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission (“Commission”), found that Logan had suffered a sixty-percent loss of industrial use to her left lower extremity, which entitled her to 105 weeks of compensation set at $331.06 for her “scheduled-member” injury under Mississippi Code Section 71-3-17(c)(2). Logan appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the Commission and the AJ had applied the incorrect part of Section 71-3-17 and that either subsection (a) or subsection (c)(25) of the statute, and not subsection (c)(2), applied. Klaussner and the American Casualty Company, the carrier, petitioned the Mississippi Supreme Court for review. The Court determined the Commission and the AJ properly awarded Logan permanent-partial disability benefits under Section 71-3-17(c)(2). Accordingly, it reversed the Court of Appeals and reinstated and affirmed the holding of the AJ and Commission. View "Logan v. Klaussner Furniture Corp." on Justia Law

by
Several members of the Collins family sued the City of Newton and several of its officials alleging wrongful termination, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, slander, and reckless disregard of property. The plaintiffs are members of a firefighting family. William Donald Collins Sr. is the patriarch of the family; Mary Collins, Donald’s wife, the matriarch. Donald was a volunteer firefighter with the City of Newton Fire Department for more than thirty years. Mary never worked for Fire Department. Donald and Mary have three adult sons, William Donald “Donnie” Collins II, Jay Collins, and Colt Collins. Donnie and Colt were full-time, paid firefighters with the Fire Department in 2012, when the events at issue occurred. Jay also was a full-time, paid, firefighter with the Fire Department. Colt was married to Lisa Collins, who was a volunteer firefighter with the Fire Department in 2012. The Collinses claim that problems began in 2009, when the firefighters voted that Donnie be their chief over the then-current Chief Bounds. The Board of Aldermen ratified the vote, and Mayor David Carr vetoed the ratification. The Board overturned Mayor Carr’s veto. Mayor Carr obtained an ethics opinion regarding Donnie being his brothers’ boss, and the Board then declined to accept Donnie as fire chief. Donnie was made assistant chief and Walter Gordon was hired as chief. After Chief Gordon left, sometime in early 2012, Clarence Parks was hired as chief. On June 20, 2012, Chief Parks distributed a letter to all Fire Department personnel, Mayor Carr, and the Board, declaring every rank, position, and title in the Fire Department vacant, effectively stripping all firefighters of their ranks. Shortly thereafter, Joel Skinner was made interim chief. Skinner was Mary’s brother’s son; thus he was Donald’s and Mary’s nephew and first cousin to Donnie and Colt. Around July 5, 2012, after an argument with Skinner in a meeting, Donald was terminated from the Newton Fire Department. On about July 18, 2012, Donnie and Colt were terminated from the Newton Fire Department, and Lisa was terminated about July 23, 2012. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court denied. After a new judge was assigned to the case, the defendants filed a motion for relief or reconsideration of the denial of summary judgment under Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 60; the trial court granted the Rule 60 relief. The Collinses appealed the trial court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants. Finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Collins v. City of Newton" on Justia Law

by
Ralph Smith sued the Attorney General of Mississippi, Jim Hood, raising various causes of action, each of which was premised on Smith’s purely legal argument that the Office of the Attorney General was in the judicial branch of the state government. The circuit court disagreed with Smith and found that, as a matter of law, the Office of Attorney General was in the executive branch, and so, the circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Hood. Smith appealed. The Mississippi Supreme Court found that the Office of Attorney General was a member of the executive branch of government, as delineated in the Mississippi Constitution, Article 6. View "Smith v. Hood" on Justia Law