Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi

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Phillip Moore, Gloria Moore, and Katelyn Moore sued Olshan Foundation Repair of Jackson, LLC (Olshan), and Wayne Brown. Olshan and Brown sought to compel arbitration pursuant to an arbitration provision within a contract between Phillip Moore and Olshan for the repair of the foundation of the Moores’ home. The circuit court ordered Phillip and Gloria Moore to arbitrate their claims. But because the circuit court declined to order Katelyn Moore to the arbitral forum, Olshan and Brown appealed. Finding that Katelyn Moore was neither a third-party beneficiary to the foundation-repair contract nor was she bound by direct-benefit estoppel, the Mississippi Supreme Court found Katelyn Moore’s claims, including negligence and intentional/negligent infliction of emotional distress, were wholly independent of the terms of the contract to which she was not a party. As such, Olshan was not allowed to enforce an arbitration clause respecting Katelyn Moore’s claims, which were unrelated to the contract. View "Olshan Foundation Repair Company of Jackson, LLC v. Moore" on Justia Law

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Yates Construction, LLC, and D.W. Caldwell, Inc., entered into a construction subcontract for the roof installation on a residential dormitory at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. When Caldwell completed both the repairs and the roof installation, it had yet to receive total payment for the structural repairs. The companies disputed the scope and expense of these repairs and quickly negotiated to an impasse. Thereafter, Caldwell filed a claim against Yates for causing delay and increased costs by failing to pay for work performed, which was in breach of the agreements between the parties. The parties proceeded to arbitration. Although the arbitration record was neither recorded nor transcribed, the parties conceded that the arbitrator considered arguments, reviewed evidence, and heard witness testimony over the course of three days. He then reopened the proceedings for additional documentation, before issuing his thirteen-page award. Within two weeks of the arbitrator’s decision to deny Yates’s motion for reconsideration, Caldwell requested that the circuit court confirm the award under Mississippi Code Section 11-15-125. Yates moved the trial court to alter, amend, or vacate the award under Mississippi Code Section 11-15-25. With the understanding that Yates would provide oral argument on its motion at the award confirmation hearing, Caldwell filed a request to limit the presentation of proof before the circuit court. Ultimately, the trial court reviewed fourteen exhibits and the testimony of one witness in making its decision. Based on this evidence, the court issued its order modifying the arbitrator’s award. Finding that the arbitrator had duplicated the labor costs for shingle installation in its award–once under the original subcontract and once under the oral agreement to repair the structural damage (referred to as the Repair Agreement)–it amended the award, reducing the total by $104,507. After its review, the Mississippi Supreme Court determined: (1) the miscalculations alleged in this matter were not evident from the award itself, nor were they apparent from the agreed-upon record; and (2) the judge erred when he allowed the parties to present witness testimony regarding the extent of any alleged miscalculations, rather than relying on the award and the arbitration record as the relevant law suggested. Finding error, the Court therefore reversed the circuit court’s decision and remanded this case to the circuit court with directions to confirm the arbitration award. Furthermore, because the subcontract between the parties provided that each contractor would be responsible for his own fees and costs, the Court declined to assess costs to one party over the other, and instead, enforced their bargained-for agreement. View "D. W. Caldwell, Inc. v. W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Company" on Justia Law

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Rebecca Keyes, a former employee of Dollar General, filed suit against Dollar General Corporation; DG Mize, LLC; Dolgencorp, LLC d/b/a Dollar General Store #11775 (collectively “Dollar General”), alleging counts of malicious prosecution, infliction of emotional distress, defamation, false imprisonment, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation, after Dollar General filed a criminal affidavit against Keyes in the Municipal Court of Mize, Mississippi, causing Keyes to be arrested for embezzlement. Keyes performed a "cash reload" to a money network card for $500.00, which did not go through properly. Rebecca Keyes informed her manager of the problem and placed the receipt on the office desk. Rebecca was told not to worry about the problem and that it would be fixed. On June 2, 2015, Rebecca Keyes was arrested for embezzlement. Thereafter, on July 16, 2015, Rebecca was found not guilty of the charges. Keyes moved to have the charges dismissed for failure of a Dollar General representative to appear and prosecute the claims. Her motion was granted. She then filed the instant lawsuit. Dollar General filed a motion to dismiss and compel arbitration, which was granted by the Circuit Court of Smith County. With the exception of the defamation claim, the Mississippi Supreme Court found the trial court erred in compelling arbitration, for Keyes’s remaining claims were not within the scope of the arbitration agreement. The Court affirmed the trial court’s order as to the defamation claim and reversed its judgment as to the remaining claims, remanding for further proceedings. View "Keyes v. Dollar General Corp." on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from Brian Pedigo’s suit against Rent-A-Center, Inc., for actual and punitive damages, alleging claims of malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Pedigo decided to make the rental- purchase of a back-lit, LED television and entered a Rental Purchase Agreement (RPA) for the lease. Pedigo had failed to fulfill his payment obligations under the RPA and was more than twenty days past-due under the agreement. Finding the contract had been breached, RAC manager Kristopher Robertson sought to recover the television from Pedigo. Through his attempts at recovery, Robertson discovered that the television was pawned shortly after it was leased. After discovering Pedigo had pawned the television, Robertson filed a complaint with the police. Based on this information, an arrest warrant for the theft of rental property was issued for Pedigo on May 1, 2013. He was indicted on October 22, 2013, for defrauding RAC, and was arrested and incarcerated on December 11, 2013. On June 9, 2014, the State retired the October 2013 felony charge, ending the prosecution of the criminal matter. After a preliminary review of this matter, the Circuit Court found in favor of Rent-A-Center, ruling that the parties entered a valid and enforceable arbitration agreement which covered Pedigo’s claims. The Mississippi Supreme Court found however, such a ruling was in error. Though broad, the arbitration agreement did not contemplate Pedigo having to arbitrate his claim that Rent-A-Center maliciously swore out a criminal affidavit, causing his wrongful incarceration. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the previous ruling and remanded the case to the circuit court for further proceedings. View "Pedigo v. Robertson" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from Brian Pedigo’s suit against Rent-A-Center, Inc., for actual and punitive damages, alleging claims of malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Pedigo visited Rent-A-Center, Inc.’s (RAC) Booneville location, and decided to make the rental-purchase of a back-lit, LED television. He entered a Rental Purchase Agreement (RPA) for the lease. Under the RPA, Pedigo agreed to make specified payments over the course of twenty-three months, in an effort to own the television after all payments were remitted. Incorporated within the RPA was RAC’s standard Consumer Arbitration Agreement (CAA), which outlined those claims covered and those not covered in a dispute between the parties, and the process the parties would engage in should a dispute arise. Pedigo initialed and signed both documents, agreeing to the terms within. By February 2013, Pedigo had failed to fulfill his payment obligations under the RPA and was more than twenty days past-due under the agreement. Finding the contract had been breached, RAC manager Kristopher Robinson sought to recover the television from Pedigo. Through his attempts at recovery, Robinson discovered that the television was pawned shortly after it was leased. After discovering Pedigo had pawned the television, Robinson filed a complaint with the Booneville police in April 2013. Based on this information, an arrest warrant for the theft of rental property was issued for Pedigo on May 1, 2013. He was indicted on October 22, 2013, for defrauding RAC, and was arrested and incarcerated on December 11, 2013. On June 9, 2014, the State retired the October 2013 felony charge, ending the prosecution of the criminal matter. Following his release, Pedigo filed this civil action claiming that RAC filed a false report with the police which resulted in his incarceration–an act that he claims amounted to malicious prosecution. After a preliminary review of the matter, the Circuit Court found in favor of Rent-A-Center, ruling that the parties entered a valid and enforceable arbitration agreement which covered Pedigo’s claims. The Mississippi Supreme Court found, however, such ruling was made in error: though broad, the arbitration agreement did not contemplate Pedigo having to arbitrate his claim that Rent-A-Center maliciously swore out a criminal affidavit, causing his wrongful incarceration. Accordingly, the Court reversed the previous ruling and remanded the case to the circuit court for further proceedings. View "Pedigo v. Rent-A-Center, Inc." on Justia Law

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Arbitration is a contractual agreement between parties. And only agreed-upon arbitrable disputes are subject to arbitration. On de novo review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found in this case a valid arbitration agreement, but the subject of the lessee’s premises-liability claim (a dispute that stemmed from a physical and sexual assault on the apartment complex premises) was not within the arbitration agreement’s scope, as it did not arise under or relate to her “occupancy and leasing of the [apartment].” Because the dispute was outside the agreement’s scope, the trial court erred by staying proceedings and ordering arbitration. View "Jane Doe v. Hallmark Partners, LP" on Justia Law

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Following court-ordered mediation, spouses Gary Rolison and Martha Rolison and Caleb Fryar and his father, Robert Fryar, entered into a mediation settlement agreement that resolved four lawsuits pending between the Rolisons and the Fryars. After a bench trial, the Circuit Court found that the Rolisons had breached the settlement agreement, and the court entered a final judgment pursuant to Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) and postponed hearing the issue of damages. The Rolisons appealed the final judgment but later dismissed the appeal voluntarily. After the trial on damages, the trial court awarded the Fryars $399,733.02 in damages, including lost profits and attorney fees. The Rolisons appealed, arguing that their jury trial waiver was ineffective, the trial court’s Rule 54(b) certification was erroneous, and the trial court erroneously denied a motion to intervene filed by two interested parties. Because the Rolisons dismissed their appeal from the Rule 54(b) final judgment, those issues were not at issue before the Supreme Court. After further review, the Supreme Court held that the trial court committed no error by finding that the Rolisons had waived their right to a jury trial on damages and attorney fees. Further, the Court rejected the Rolisons’ challenges to the trial court’s awards of damages and attorney fees because those awards were supported by substantial, credible evidence. Therefore, the Court affirmed the trial court. View "Rolison v. Fryar" on Justia Law

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Linde Health Care Staffing, Inc., received a favorable arbitration award in Missouri against the Claiborne County Hospital. Linde reduced the award to a Missouri judgment, then enrolled the foreign judgment in two Mississippi counties. The Hospital successfully moved to set aside the foreign judgment in both Mississippi counties, since it never contracted with Linde and, thus, was not bound by the contract’s arbitration agreement. On appeal, Linde argued the Hospital’s motions to set aside the foreign judgment were filed too late and were time-barred by the Federal Arbitration Act’s procedural rules. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found that the FAA could not bind an entity that neither agreed to arbitrate nor contracted with the arbitration claimant. Therefore the Court affirmed the two Mississippi judgments setting aside the enrollment of the foreign judgment. View "Linde Health Care Staffing, Inc. v. Claiborne County Hospital" on Justia Law

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On her father’s behalf, Debra Tarvin signed a nursing home Admission Agreement which contained an arbitration provision. After her father Caldwell Tarvin died, she brought a wrongful-death suit against the nursing home, CLC of Jackson, LLC d/b/a Pleasant Hills Community Living Center (“Pleasant Hills”). Caldwell was admitted to Pleasant Hills in August 2007, and Debra signed an Admission Agreement as Caldwell’s “Responsible Party.” Janet Terrell and Annette Tarvin also signed the Agreement as “Family Members” but Caldwell himself did not sign the Agreement. Pleasant Hills moved to dismiss the proceedings and to compel arbitration. Debra responded and argued that Pleasant Hills had waived its right to compel arbitration by participating in the litigation. Debra also argued that Pleasant Hills had “completely ignore[d] the issue of whether or not Mr. Tarvin’s family members had the legal authority to bind him to an arbitration agreement[.]” Specifically, Debra argued that there was “no legal authority, such as a power of attorney or conservatorship” by which she could bind her father to the arbitration agreement, nor could she bind him under the Uniform Healthcare Decisions Act, because “the record is devoid of any evidence” that the physicians relied upon by Pleasant Hills were Caldwell’s primary physicians. The trial court granted Pleasant Hills' motion, and Debra appealed. The relevant statutes at play here were codified as the “Uniform Health-Care Decisions Act,” Mississippi Code Section 41-41-201 to 41-41-229 (the “Act”). The Supreme Court's review of this case found that Act required determination by a primary physician that an individual lacks capacity before a “surrogate” properly can make a healthcare decision for that individual. The record here did not support a finding that a certain "Dr. Thomas" was Caldwell’s primary physician. The Court therefore reversed the trial court’s order compelling arbitration and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Tarvin v. CLC of Jackson, LLC d/b/a Pleasant Hills Community Living Center" on Justia Law

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The administrator of the Pearl River County Hospital entered into a contract with Wellness, Inc., for Wellness to provide furnishings, fixtures, equipment, and systems for the Hospital’s renovation. The Hospital subsequently sued Wellness (and other defendants not party to this appeal) alleging fraud, conspiracy, breach of contract, and other causes of action. Before trial commenced, Wellness moved to compel mediation and arbitration and to stay proceedings. After a hearing on the motion, the circuit court denied the motion in its entirety. Wellness appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Wellness, Inc. v. Pearl River County Hospital" on Justia Law