Articles Posted in Mississippi Supreme Court

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The Chancery Court appointed conservators over the person and estate of Stuart Irby. Approximately one year later, Karen Collins Irby, Stuart's ex-wife, filed pleadings to invalidate the conservatorship and set aside the transactions of the conservators. The chancery court denied Karen's petition, and she appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Collins v. Pinnacle Trust" on Justia Law

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Halley Smith appealed a Chancery Court order which held Smith was not a wrongful-death beneficiary of Justin Smith. On appeal to the Supreme Court, Smith asked the Court to judicially declare that an in loco parentis child qualified as a wrongful-death beneficiary under Mississippi Code Section 11-7-13. Finding that an in loco parentis child does not qualify as a wrongful-death beneficiary, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "In the Matter of the Estate of Justin Michael Smith" on Justia Law

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Helen Schroeder was a passenger in an automobile driven by her husband Harry, when a log truck collided with the rear of the automobile. Harry was killed, and Helen was severely injured. A consequence of the accident was that Helen suffered diminished mental capacity. In a federal lawsuit, Helen claimed the truck driver was at fault and denied that Harry was negligent. After the federal judge denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, Helen settled the federal suit. Helen then sued Harry’s estate in state court, claiming Harry was partially at fault. The circuit court granted summary judgment to the estate on judicial estoppel grounds. But, because the federal judge stated his denial of summary judgment was based on his finding of genuine issues of material fact as to the truck driver’s negligence, not “Harry Schroeder’s potential contributory negligence,” the Supreme Court reversed. View "Clark v. Neese" on Justia Law

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Jessica Norton Jordan appealed a declaratory ruling that she was not entitled to a share of her adoptive father’s estate under Mississippi’s pretermitted heir statute. A certified copy of the trial court’s docket indicated that Jordan was still involved in the probate matter. Further, the declaratory judgment did not contain a Rule 54(b) certification or equivalent language. Because the order denying pretermitted heir status was not a final, appealable judgment, the appeal was dismissed. View "Jordan v. Booth" on Justia Law

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This appeal stems from a civil suit brought by the estates and wrongful-death beneficiaries of Christopher Allan Bloodworth, Steven Earl Tallant Jr., Marcus Richardson, and A.W. Hilson, four men killed at a railroad crossing when a freight train collided with the truck in which they were traveling. The beneficiaries of Bloodworth, Tallant, Richardson, and Hilson filed their complaint(s) against Illinois Central Railroad Company and several of its employees, including the track crew, as well as other employees of Illinois Central’s track department. Defendants filed two motions for summary judgment; the circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants with respect to Plaintiffs’ claims alleging negligent operation of the train. The circuit court also granted partial summary judgment in favor of Defendants on three of four contested issues regarding the engineering and maintenance of the railroad crossing, leaving one surviving claim. The circuit court then granted five of Defendants’ motions in limine to exclude Plaintiffs’ evidence. Finding that, without the excluded evidence, Plaintiffs could not support the remaining claim, the circuit court granted Defendants’ motions for summary judgment in their entirety and issued a judgment and certificate pursuant to Rule 54(b) of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiffs appealed the trial court's decisions to the Supreme Court, and Defendants cross-appealed as to certain trial court rulings. Because the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants on each claim by Plaintiffs, the Court dismissed Defendants’ cross-appeal as moot. View "Estate of Bloodworth v. Illinois Central Railroad Company" 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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Thirteen years after the divorce was finalized, the Lamar County Chancery Court found that the former husband, Appellee John David Gatwood, was in arrears on certain financial obligations imposed by the divorce decree. Because of various extenuating circumstances, the chancellor ordered Gatwood to pay off his debt in monthly installments. More than a year after the chancery court judgment, the former wife's attorney, Jack Parsons, successfully filed a suggestion for writ of garnishment, significantly accelerating payment of Gatwood's financial obligations. Circumstances related to the manner in which the writ of garnishment was obtained resulted in sanctions against Parsons; the garnishment proceedings also gave rise to other rulings which were appealed to this Court. After review, the Supreme Court declined to find the trial court erred: evidence at trial supported that court's finding that attorney's fees and sanctions against Parsons and his client were appropriate. Accordingly, the circuit court's decision was affirmed. View "Cooper v. The Estate of William David Gatwood" on Justia Law

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Martin Vance filed a medical-malpractice/wrongful-death action on behalf of Mamie Vance Hemphill, alleging that Dr. Charles H. Laney was negligent in his treatment of the decedent, Hemphill. Vance initially sued other medical providers, but all but Dr. Laney were dismissed. Trial was held; Dr. Laney was the sole defendant. The jury returned a verdict of $1,000,000 to Vance. In response, Dr. Laney filed this appeal, presenting three issues to the Supreme Court: (1) whether the trial court erred in remitting plaintiff's economic damage award to $103,688 when the substantial weight of the evidence proved that the award should have been zero; (2) whether the trial court erred in its jury instructions; and, (3) whether plaintiff's counsel made inappropriate comments, and, when taken with the erroneous jury instructions, should have warranted Dr. Laney a new trial. Because the trial judge committed reversible error in instructing the jury that they could consider the "value of life" of the deceased in awarding damages, and because counsel for Vance made improper and prejudicial comments to the jury during closing arguments, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a new trial. View "Laney v. Vance" on Justia Law

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The issue before the Supreme Court in this case concerned premises liability in the context of a wrongful death action. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's holding that the deceased was an invitee at the time of his death and that the plaintiff breached no duty to the deceased under the standard applied to those classified as invitees while on the property of another. Upon review, the Supreme Court agreed the grant of summary judgment was appropriate but disagreed with the trial court and the Court of Appeals as to the reason. The Court found that the injured party was not an invitee at the time of the incident, but a trespasser. Because both the Court of Appeals and the trial court incorrectly classified the decedent as an invitee, the Court affirmed only the result. View "Handy v. Nejam" on Justia Law

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Tamika Foster died after giving birth at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). Her estate filed suit against the Center. After a verdict for the plaintiffs, UMMC appealed, claiming that the plaintiffs produced nothing more than an unreliable autopsy report to establish medical negligence, and that the trial judge erred in refusing to allow two doctors to testify about the autopsy. But because the Supreme Court found sufficient evidence in the record to support the verdict and because UMMC failed to make a proffer of the doctors' expected testimony, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals' decision and reinstated and affirmed the circuit court's decision. View "University of Mississippi Medical Center v. Foster" on Justia Law