Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi

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The Chancery Court found that Ronald Lampkin had breached his fiduciary duties to Limestone Products, Inc. (“Limestone”). Lampkin and James Oldrum Smith Jr. jointly owned and operated Limestone with a line of credit they each personally guaranteed. Upon Smith’s death and his estate’s refusal to guarantee the line of credit, Lampkin formed Delta Stone, a new corporation which operated on the same property, used the same facilities, and sold rock to the same clients to whom Limestone had sold. Lampkin sought a declaratory judgment against the estate that he was not violating his fiduciary duties to Limestone. The executors of the estate counterclaimed for lost profits and attorney’s fees. At the liability stage of the bifurcated trial, the chancellor determined that Lampkin had breached his fiduciary duty to Limestone by usurping a corporate opportunity. In the damages stage of the trial, the chancellor considered expert testimony, awarded damages, and denied the executors’ request for attorney’s fees, expert-witness fees, and punitive damages. The executors appealed and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and found that the chancellor had abused his discretion in calculating the damages award. The Supreme Court remanded for the chancellor to re-evaluate damages. On remand, the chancellor reassessed the damages due to Limestone as a result of Lampkin’s breach of his fiduciary duties. The executors appeal again. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed the chancellor’s judgment on every issue except for the calculation of lost assets. Concerning the calculation of lost assets, it reversed and rendered judgment for $64,363.50. View "Lane v. Lampkin" on Justia Law

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In this auditing malpractice case, Thomas L. Wallace and T.L. Wallace Construction, Inc. appealed the Circuit Court's grant of summary judgment to McArthur, Thames, Slay, and Dews, PLLC (“McArthur Thames”) for lack of causation. Wallace filed suit against McArthur Thames, alleging that the accounting firm had negligently audited the financial statements of Wallace Construction and ultimately had caused the destruction of the company by failing to discover hundreds of personal credit card purchases by certain company employees, failing to discover transactions involving hundred of thousands of dollars spent by Wallace Construction to pay for personal home improvements of nonshareholder employees, and by failing to discover inappropriate accounting practices that resulted in an overstatement of income. Wallace sought to recover damages of approximately $14,000,000 allegedly suffered by him as a result of accounting work done by McArthur Thames. The trial court excluded the testimony of Wallace Construction’s sole expert on causation, finding that his opinion was unreliable and insufficient to establish proximate cause. Because the trial court mistakenly believed that expert testimony establishing causation was required in all malpractice cases, and because Wallace Construction presented sufficient lay testimony to overcome summary judgment on the issue of causation, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded the case the trial court for further proceedings. In addition, the Supreme Court found the trial court abused its discretion in disallowing reasonable access to the financial information of Wallace Construction subsequent to June 30, 2012, and in its denial of discovery of the Wallaces’ personal accounts. View "T.L. Wallace Construction, Inc. v. McArthur, Thames, Slay, and Dews, PLLC" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose out of a breach-of-contract action between Marc Daniels, Sandra Daniels, Crocker & Associates, Inc., and Maxx Investments, LLC (collectively, “the Danielses”) and Dennis Crocker, Gail Crocker and Crocker, Ltd. (collectively, “the Crockers”). The Danielses entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement (the “Agreement”) with the Crockers to acquire Crocker & Associates, Inc. (“C&A”). Within eighteen months of the sale, C&A lost a number of important contracts and its employees resigned. The Danielses sued the Crockers for failing to disclose all material information about C&A as required by the Agreement. The Crockers answered the suit and brought counterclaims. After extensive discovery, the trial court granted the Crockers’ motion for summary judgment on the Danielses’ claims against them. The Danielses now appeal the trial court’s grant of summary judgment. Because the record contained a genuine issue as to material fact concerning the Danielses’ contract claims and negligent and fraudulent misrepresentation claims, the Mississippi Supreme Court concluded the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on these claims. Further, because the Court remanded these claims for a jury to determine if the Danielses were entitled to compensation, the Court reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment on the punitive damages claim. The Court affirmed in all other respects, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Daniels v. Crocker" on Justia Law

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When this case came before the Mississippi Supreme Court on interlocutory appeal, the Court reversed in part. Because it was undisputed that neither sub-subcontractor Ground Control, LLC nor subcontractor Capsco Industries, Inc. (both Alabama companies) had a statutorily required certificate of responsibility to work in Mississippi, the Court agreed that the subcontract was void. But the Court found, despite the void contract, "Ground Control should not be precluded from having the opportunity to proceed in court under a claim for the value of what it expended in labor and supplies on the project." The case was remanded to the trial court so Ground Control could pursue the nonbarred "claims of unjust enrichment and quantum meruit." Despite this holding, Ground Control argued in this appeal that the trial court erred by limiting its claims on remand to unjust enrichment and quantum meruit. The Supreme Court found no error in the trial court so limiting Ground Control's claims. The Supreme Court did, however, find W.G. Yates and Sons Construction Company (Yates) and Capsco raised reversible errors in their cross-appeals. Based on the evidence presented at trial, the Supreme Court found Yates was entitled to a directed verdict because Ground Control failed to prove Yates’s liability for quantum meruit damages. The Court also found the quantum meruit damages award against Capsco was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. Consequently, Capsco was entitled to a remittitur. The Court affirmed on Ground Control’s and Ground Control owner Frank Beaton’s direct appeals. On cross-appeal, the Court reversed a $36,644.69 judgment against Yates and rendered a judgment in Yates’s favor. The Court also reversed a $825,583.31 judgment against Capsco. The quantum meruit claim against Capsco was remanded, instructing the trial court to conduct a new trial on damages alone, unless a remittitur of $626,407.31, making the damage award $199,096, was accepted by Ground Control and Capsco. View "Ground Control, LLC v. Capsco Industries, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 1989, Marcus Moore slipped and fell in a grocery store owned by the defendant, Roberts Company, Inc. (“RCI”). Moore was three years old at the time, and he allegedly struck his head when he fell. After he reached the age of majority, Moore filed suit against RCI, claiming that RCI was negligent in allowing the floor to be slick. Moore also alleged that the fall had caused “marked and significant traumatic and permanent injuries to his brain,” leaving him with “permanent and profound deficits” in several areas. The jury returned a verdict in the defendant’s favor, and the trial court entered judgment in accordance with that verdict. Moore filed a post-trial motion arguing, among other things, that one of the jurors was a convicted felon and therefore, statutorily disqualified. The trial judge agreed and granted Moore a new trial. The Supreme Court granted the defendant’s petition for an interlocutory appeal, and reversed the trial court’s order granting a new trial. View "Roberts Company, Inc. v. Moore" on Justia Law

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Scott Buras and Carlos Rodriguez founded Lagniappe Logistics in 2004. Since then, Buras and Rodriguez’s business relationship deteriorated to the point that Buras left the company in June 2013. In early 2014, Buras filed suit claiming that Rodriguez had been unjustly enriched through Lagniappe’s operation. Buras’s complaint requested that the chancellor declare Buras a fifty-percent owner of Lagniappe, order an accounting, judicially dissolve the company, and appoint a receiver or custodian to wind up its affairs. Rodriguez and Lagniappe moved to dismiss Buras’s complaint based on Mississippi’s catch-all, three-year statute of limitations. According to the defendants, Buras’s claims (which depended on Buras’s status as an owner) were time-barred because Buras failed to file a legal action to rescind or cancel a 2006 agreement transferring his ownership interest to Rodriguez within three years of the agreement’s execution. "Occasionally, the question of whether the statute of limitations has run turns on the resolution of a fact question. In such cases, a statute-of-limitations defense cannot be resolved on a defendant’s motion to dismiss based on Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)." The chancellor found it inappropriate to dismiss the case at the Rule 12(b)(6) stage due to an existing fact question and denied the motion. Finding no reversible error with that decision, the Supreme Court affirmed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Lagniappe Logistics, Inc. v. Buras" on Justia Law

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William Burgess, a common stock shareholder of BancorpSouth, Inc., filed a shareholder derivative action after a Special Committee comprised of BancorpSouth directors and officers rejected his presuit demand. In that presuit demand and in his Shareholder Derivative Complaint, Burgess made various claims relating to alleged misrepresentations in company publications directed to shareholders following the 2008 economic downturn. Ultimately, the Circuit Court dismissed the action. Finding no reversible error in the Circuit Court's decision, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Burgess v. Patterson" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of property damage suffered by Borries Construction when Grand Casino’s gambling barges broke loose from their moorings and collided with the Schooner Pier and surrounding structures during Hurricane Katrina. Following the hurricane, K.R. Borries filed suit on behalf of himself and his construction company against Grand Casino. Grand Casino filed a motion for summary judgment, which the circuit court granted. Borries appealed, arguing that Grand Casino breached its duty of care to Borries by negligently mooring its casino and failing to take precautions to prevent foreseeable harm to nearby property owners. After review, the Supreme Court Court reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment because there was a "battle of experts," and the issue should have been presented to a jury. View "Borries v. Grand Casino of Mississippi, Inc. Biloxi" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of property damage suffered by Borries Construction when Grand Casino’s gambling barges broke loose from their moorings and collided with the Schooner Pier and surrounding structures during Hurricane Katrina. Following the hurricane, K.R. Borries filed suit on behalf of himself and his construction company against Grand Casino. Grand Casino filed a motion for summary judgment, which the circuit court granted. Borries appealed, arguing that Grand Casino breached its duty of care to Borries by negligently mooring its casino and failing to take precautions to prevent foreseeable harm to nearby property owners. After review, the Supreme Court Court reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment because there was a "battle of experts," and the issue should have been presented to a jury. View "Borries v. Grand Casino of Mississippi, Inc. Biloxi" on Justia Law

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The Mississippi Department of Revenue (MDOR) audited Hotel and Restaurant Supply (Hotel) and concluded that Hotel owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in underpaid sales tax. Hotel appealed the assessment to MDOR’s Board of Review, which upheld the assessment but reduced the amount owed. Hotel appealed to the Mississippi Board of Tax Appeals (MBTA), and MBTA abated the assessment in full. MDOR appealed MBTA’s decision; both parties filed motions for summary judgment, and the chancery court granted Hotel’s motion. MDOR appealed the chancery court’s decision to grant Hotel’s motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed the chancery court’s grant of Hotel’s motion for summary judgment. View "Mississippi Department of Revenue v. Hotel & Restaurant Supply" on Justia Law