Articles Posted in Mississippi Supreme Court

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Ground Control, LLC appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Capsco Industries, W.G. Yates & Sons Construction and Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. The parties contracted to build the "Margaritaville Spa and Hotel" in Biloxi. The circuit court held in part that Ground Control's failure to obtain a certificate of responsibility rendered its contract with Capsco null and void. After its review of the circuit court record, the Supreme Court agreed (and affirmed) that the lack of the certificate of responsibility rendered the contract null and void. However, the Court reversed the grant of summary judgment in part so that the circuit court could determine whether Ground Control was entitled to recover based on claims of unjust enrichment and/or quantum meruit. View "Ground Control, LLC v. Capsco Industries, Inc." on Justia Law

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H. Gordon Myrick, Inc. (Myrick) contracted with Harrison County Commercial Lot (HCCL) to build HCCL an executive office building. The parties' contract contained an arbitration provision, which excluded aesthetic-effect claims from arbitration. The issue before the Supreme Court in this case concerned which, if any, of the parties' claims were subject to arbitration. The trial court determined that the arbitration agreement was valid and ordered arbitration on designated, nonaesthetic claims. HCCL appealed and Myrick cross-appealed. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the parties' claims were without merit, "but it is difficult to determine why the trial court ordered certain punch-list items to arbitration and others not. Thus, [the Court] remand[ed the case] to the trial court to provide further explanation on the punch-list items alone." View "Harrison County Commercial Lot, LLC v. H. Gordon Myrick, Inc." on Justia Law

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Roxco, Ltd., was hired as the general contractor for several public-construction projects for the State of Mississippi, including four building projects at the University of Mississippi, Jackson State University, and Alcorn State University. State law requires that a certain percentage of the cost of construction be retained to ensure completion. However, Mississippi Code Section 31-5-15 (Rev. 2010) allows the contractor to access that retainage by depositing with the State other acceptable security. Pursuant to Section 31-5-15, Roxco substituted securities valued at $1,055,000, deposited in a safekeeping account at Trustmark National Bank. Upon being notified of Roxco's default, the State instructed Trustmark to transfer the funds from the treasury bills into the state treasury account. By letter, Roxco directed Trustmark not to transfer the funds from the treasury bills to the State's account. Notwithstanding Roxco's letter, Trustmark deposited the funds into the State's account. Roxco filed suit against Trustmark for breach of contract and conversion. Trustmark argued that Section 31-5-15 permitted the release of the funds in the safekeeping account. A jury found in favor of Roxco and awarded $3,720,000 in damages. Aggrieved, Trustmark appealed. Finding that the trial court should have granted the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Trustmark National Bank v. Roxco Ltd." on Justia Law

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This case was an interlocutory appeal from a circuit court which granted the "Motions to Compel Arbitration" of Pass Marianne, LLC (Pass) and Alfonso Realty, Inc. (Alfonso). On appeal, the Supreme Court considered: (1) whether Pass waived its right to arbitration, and (2) whether a principal’s waiver of its contractual right to arbitrate operates to waive that right for its agent. In 2005, Pass entered into a contract with Carl E. Woodward, LLC (Woodward) for the construction of a new condominium development, Pass Marianne Condominiums, in Pass Christian, Mississippi. In February, Pass and Lemon Drop Properties, LLC (Lemon Drop) entered into a "Preconstruction Sales and Purchase Agreement" for Unit No. 209 within the Pass Marianne Condominiums. Because of Hurricane Katrina, construction of the Pass Marianne Condominiums was not completed until 2007. On October 3, 2007, Pass executed a warranty deed conveying Unit No. 209 to Lemon Drop, and Woodward furnished a "Warranty of Completion of Construction" to Lemon Drop. On October 28, 2008, Lemon Drop filed a Complaint in the circuit court against Pass and Woodward, which sought, inter alia, rescission of the Agreement due to alleged defects in design and construction. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that while Pass waived its right to compel arbitration, that waiver was not imputed to its agent, Alfonso. As there was no evidence of waiver by Alfonso, it should have been entitled to proceed in arbitration. Therefore, as to Alfonso the Court affirmed the circuit court's order granting arbitration was affirmed. But regarding Pass, Court reversed and remanded the circuit court's order for further proceedings. View "Lemon Drop Properties, LLC. v. Pass Marianne, LLC" on Justia Law

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Defendant Chad Booker was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment. Defendant unsuccessfully appealed his sentence to the Court of Appeals. On appeal to the Supreme Court, Defendant argued multiple errors at the trial court entitled him to a new trial. The majority for the Court of Appeals found no merit in Defendant's arguments. Though it affirmed the appellate court's holding, the Supreme Court took the opportunity to expand upon points in the Court of Appeals' discussion on "Weathersby v. State" and whether the "Weathersby Rule" was correctly interpreted by the lower courts in Defendant's case. In sum, the rule applies where a defendant or his witnesses are the only eyewitnesses to the homicide: "Their version, if reasonable, must be accepted as true unless substantially contradicted in material particulars by a credible witness or witnesses for the state, or by the physical facts of the common knowledge." In Defendant's case, the Weathersby rule was inapplicable because Defendant's own version of the incident satisfied the elements of manslaughter. Furthermore, Defendant's version was substantially contradicted "in material particulars" by witnesses presented at trial. The Supreme Court found that the trial judge correctly found Weathersby inapplicable and properly permitted this case to go to the jury.

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Cable company employee David Marble was injured when he touched a live electrical wire while attempting to splice a new cable into an old one. He brought suit against Deviney Construction Company, Inc. (Deviney), alleging that Deviney negligently dug up the electrical wire and failed to secure it. Before trial, the trial judge ruled that witnesses could only be called once. Deviney objected, arguing that the defense should not be âhandcuffedâ and should be able to call its witnesses in its own case-in-chief. Mr. Marble ultimately called fourteen witnesses in his case, including two of Devineyâs fact witnesses. During trial, Deviney renewed its objection to the trial judgeâs ruling, but the trial judge affirmed her earlier ruling. Mr. Marble would win a $2.5 million verdict against Deviney. Deviney appealed the verdict, arguing among other things, that the trial judgeâs ruling on the presentation of witnesses constituted reversible error. The Supreme Court agreed that âa court has broad discretion . . . to manage the pace of a trial by placing âreasonableâ limitsâ on the presentation of evidence but found that the trial judge âundulyâ interfered with Devineyâs presentation of its case. The Court reversed the trial courtâs decision, and remanded the case for a new trial.