Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi
McInnis Electric Company v. Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC et al.
Construction firm Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC, received the prime contract to expand the University of Mississippi Medical Center Children’s Hospital in 2017. Electrical contractor McInnis Electric Company secured the winning bid to install the electrical and low voltage systems package for the project and subsequently signed a subcontract with Brasfield & Gorrie. Terms of the subcontract incorporated the prime contract, which were related to the same project by reference. The contract provided that work was set to begin on the project on February 15, 2018. However, McInnis, was directed not to report on site until June 4, 2018, and, due to delays, was unable to begin until July 23, 2018. As work progressed, the schedule allegedly became delayed as a result of Brasfield & Gorrie’s failure to coordinate the work of the various subcontractors. McInnis averred that Brasfield & Gorrie’s failure to coordinate and facilitate the work of the various subcontractors worsened as the project progressed, and Brasfield & Gorrie experienced turnover in management. This failure allegedly delayed McInnis’s work, which was not on the path toward completion, supposedly through no fault of its own. Construction issues were amplified when on March 11, 2020, Mississippi experienced its first reported case of COVID-19. On April 1, 2020, the Mississippi Governor instituted a shelter in place order in response to the ongoing pandemic, requiring certain nonessential businesses to close and recommending social distancing to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in Mississippi. The children’s hospital was not classified as an existing infrastructure as it was a nonoperational work in progress and thus was not subject to the executive order’s exception to the governmental shutdowns. By May 8, 2020, McInnis had suffered an approximately 40 percent loss in its workforce due to employees testing positive for COVID-19. Despite the decrease in the available workforce, Brasfield & Gorrie demanded McInnis perform under its contractual obligation. McInnis took measures to continue the work. Brasfield & Gorrie further declined requests for accommodation and instead terminated McInnis on May 13, 2020. The case before the Mississippi Supreme Court here stemmed from disagreements and a broken contract between the parties, contesting whether arbitration was appropriate to settle their disputes. The trial court compelled arbitration, and the Supreme Court affirmed. View "McInnis Electric Company v. Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC et al." on Justia Law
PriorityOne Bank v. Folkes
Laura Folkes sued PriorityOne Bank (PriorityOne) in Mississippi chancery court, seeking to set aside a foreclosure on the ground that it had been conducted in bad faith. PriorityOne appealed the chancellor’s denial of its motion to compel arbitration. In 2019, PriorityOne made a loan via a line of credit to Folkes, secured by a deed of trust on a commercial tract of real property. Folkes filed for bankruptcy in February 2020. PriorityOne foreclosed on the property after Folkes defaulted on her payment obligations under the bankruptcy agreement. Prior to the foreclosure, Folkes’s bankruptcy trustee made one payment in the amount of $9,394 to PriorityOne, which was credited to the loan. Following the foreclosure, PriorityOne sold the property to Steven Adams. In 2021, Folkes filed a complaint at chancery court alleging that the foreclosure was made in bad faith because the bank had accepted a “substantial payment” toward the debt prior to foreclosure. The chancellor never ruled on this motion. Later, Folkes amended her complaint against PriorityOne, PriorityOne employee Harvey Lott, Steven Adams, and 5-A Properties, LLP. In May 2022, the circuit court ordered that case to arbitration. In the chancery court proceeding, and with PriorityOne’s motion for summary judgment pending, Folkes was granted permission to amend her complaint to add clarifying facts to certain issues raised in the original complaint. The chancellor denied PriorityOne’s motion to compel arbitration, noting that chancery court was a court of equity and finding that Folkes “has established a prima faci[e] case showing that some impropriety may have occurred at or around the time of the foreclosure on her property that demands that she be given the opportunity to prove her case.” On the specific circumstances before us, the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed with Folkes that PriorityOne waived any right it may have had to compel arbitration by substantially participating in litigation and that Folkes was bound by her representation to the Court that the amended chancery complaint did not and was not intended to add discrete claims to her chancery action. View "PriorityOne Bank v. Folkes" on Justia Law
Belhaven Senior Care, LLC, et al. v. Smith, et al.
Betty Smith brought a negligence and wrongful death lawsuit against Belhaven Senior Care, LLC (Belhaven), a nursing home facility in which her mother Mary Hayes had resided shortly before Hayes’s death. Belhaven sought to compel arbitration, citing the arbitration provision in the nursing home admissions agreement Smith signed when admitting her mother. The trial judge denied arbitration, finding that Smith lacked the legal authority to bind her mother to the agreement. Belhaven appealed. The nursing home’s primary argument on appeal was that under the Health-Care Decisions Act (“the Act”), Smith acted as a statutory healthcare surrogate. So in signing the nursing home admission agreement, Smith had authority to waive arbitration on her mother’s behalf. In addition, Belhaven puts forth arguments of direct-benefit estoppel and third-party beneficiary status. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed, finding that while Hayes did suffer from some form of dementia, when admitted to the nursing home, she was neither evaluated by a physician nor was she determined to lack capacity. Indeed, her “Admission Physician Orders” were signed by a nurse practitioner. It was not until eleven days later that a physician evaluated Hayes. "And even then, the physician did not deem she lacked capacity. In fact, Belhaven puts forth no evidence that—at any time during her stay of more than a year at Belhaven—any physician ever determined Hayes lacked capacity." The Court determined Belhaven failed to prove the strict requirements of the surrogacy statute to rebut this presumption. Furthermore, the Court found Belhaven’s direct-benefit estoppel and third-party beneficiary arguments were lacking: because Belhaven contends that Hayes was incapacitated, she could not knowingly seek or obtain benefits from the agreement. "Nor does Smith’s largely negligence-based lawsuit seek to enforce the contract’s terms or require determination by reference to the contract. So Smith is not estopped from pursuing these claims." View "Belhaven Senior Care, LLC, et al. v. Smith, et al." on Justia Law
Magnolia Health Plan, Inc. et al. v. Mississippi’s Community Mental Health Commissions, et al.
Magnolia, a managed care organization that contracted with the State to provide Medicaid services, applied what it saw as a statutory five percent reduction in Medicaid rates to Mississippi’s fourteen regional mental health providers. The regional providers responded by filing a complaint against Magnolia in which they sought injunctive relief and monetary damages. On February 18, 2020, Magnolia Health Plan, Inc., and Cenpatico Behavioral Health, LLC (collectively, “Magnolia”), filed a timely notice of appeal after a circuit court denied Magnolia’s motion to compel arbitration, and granted a preliminary injunction against it in favor of Defendants, Mississippi’s fourteen regional health commissions. The notice of appeal included both orders. As to the first, the order denying Magnolia’s motion to compel arbitration, at oral argument before the Mississippi Supreme Court panel, Magnolia abandoned the issue. As to the second, the order granting Magnolia’s request for a permanent injunction, the order was not a final, appealable judgment. Accordingly, the Supreme Court concluded it did not have jurisdiction for further review. View "Magnolia Health Plan, Inc. et al. v. Mississippi's Community Mental Health Commissions, et al." on Justia Law
Hillhouse v. Chris Cook Construction, LLC, et al.
Timothy and Rebecca Hillhouse entered into a contract with Chris Cook Construction for the construction of their home. The contract contained an arbitration provision mandating that arbitration be conducted before a forum that was unavailable at the time the contract was executed. The trial court entered an order compelling arbitration and appointing an arbitrator. The Mississippi Supreme Court concluded the trial court erred in so doing: because the forum was a contract requirement, the arbitration provision was unenforceable, and appointing an arbitrator required courts to reform the contractual agreement between the parties. Judgment was reversed and the trial court’s order compelling arbitration and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Hillhouse v. Chris Cook Construction, LLC, et al." on Justia Law
Delta Electric Power Assn. v. Campbell
Members of Delta Electric Power Association filed a lawsuit against the cooperative seeking the return of excess revenue and receipts. Delta moved to compel arbitration. The trial court found that the arbitration clause contained in the bylaws was procedurally unconscionable and denied Delta’s motion to compel. After Delta appealed the trial court’s decision, the Mississippi Supreme Court decided Virgil v. Southwest Mississippi Electric Power Association, 296 So. 3d 53 (Miss. 2020), in which it found an arbitration agreement contained in a cooperative’s bylaws to be valid and enforceable. Because the Supreme Court determined the issues in this case were almost identical to the issues decided in Virgil, precedent required it Court to reverse the trial court’s decision denying Delta’s motion to compel arbitration. View "Delta Electric Power Assn. v. Campbell" on Justia Law
B&S MS Holdings, LLC v. Landrum
David and Jill Landrum began developing land in Livingston, Madison County, Mississippi, in approximately 2006. David sought financial assistance from Michael Sharpe. Michael invested substantial sums in the business, and his wife, Marna Sharpe, gained a membership interest in the business. In 2010, Livingston Holdings, LLC (Livingston), a Mississippi limited-liability company, was formed. The original members of the company were Jill, Marna, and Sara Williams. Livingston acquired Williams’s ownership interests, and Marna later assigned her membership interest to B&S Holdings, LLC (B&S). The development became the Town of Livingston. The members of Livingston consisted of B&S and Jill. In this dispute between the members of the limited-liability company, the question presented for the Mississippi Supreme Court's review was whether statutory provisions prevented the enforcement of an arbitration provision and waiver contained in the operating agreement of the company. Because the Court determined the statutory provisions did not control over the terms of the operating agreement, it affirmed the trial court’s decision to compel arbitration. View "B&S MS Holdings, LLC v. Landrum" on Justia Law
Virgil v. Southwest Mississippi Electric Power Association
Southwest Mississippi Electric Power Association (Southwest) was a nonprofit, member-owned electric cooperative corporation created by statute to provide electricity to rural Mississippians. Plaintiffs Ray Virgil, Barbara Lloyd, and Cassandra Johnson were are members of Southwest who filed a lawsuit alleging Southwest failed to return excess revenues and receipts to its members. Southwest moved to compel arbitration. The trial court granted Southwest’s motion to compel arbitration. Plaintiffs appealed. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Virgil v. Southwest Mississippi Electric Power Association" on Justia Law
Jackson Mac Haik CDJR, Ltd. v. Hester
Mac Haik appeals the circuit court’s denial of its motion to compel arbitration. In 2016, plaintiff Brenda Hester purchased a used 2014 Dodge Ram from Jackson Mac Haik CDJR, Ltd. (Mac Haik). Hester executed a retail-installment sale contract with Mac Haik for the purchase of the vehicle. The contract contained an arbitration provision. In 2017, Hester sued Mac Haik, American Financial Warranty Corporation (American Warranty), Randy Miggins d/b/a M&S Towing, and Randy Miggins, alleging that the vehicle she bought from Mac Haik “was defective in materials and workmanship from and after the date of purchase” and “that said defects have existed since the Plaintiff started using said vehicle.” She alleged further that American Warranty issued her a warranty but failed to repair her truck. Hester never served American Warranty with a summons and copy of her complaint. Hester alleged that Mac Haik took possession of her vehicle to make warranted repairs and later allowed it to be towed. Mac Haik, finding that all of Hester’s claims, which sounded in tort or contract and related to her purchase or condition of the vehicle at issue, argued that the claims were subject to arbitration. Mac Haik appealed the circuit court’s denial of its motion to compel arbitration. Because the Mississippi Supreme Court found that the claims fell within the scope of the valid arbitration provision, and that no defenses existed to bar arbitration, it reversed reverse the circuit court’s order denying Mac Haik’s motion to compel arbitration and ordered the claims to arbitration. View "Jackson Mac Haik CDJR, Ltd. v. Hester" on Justia Law
LAGB, LLC v. Total Merchant Services, Inc.
Federico Garcia, president of Mama Kio’s, entered into an agreement with Total Merchant Services (TMS) for credit-card financial services for the restaurant. Two months after opening Mama Kio’s, Garcia noticed that the bank deposits through TMS were considerably less than expected. TMS later discovered the cause was an improper code in its software that had failed to collect the tips authorized by the customers. The missing tips totaled approximately $14,000. TMS attempted to remedy the error by running the credit cards again for the uncharged tip amounts. However, the customers were charged not only for the uncollected tips but also for the entire charged amounts. More than three thousand customers’ transactions were double and/or triple billed, resulting in more than $400,000 taken from Mama Kio’s customers’ accounts. Mama Kio’s worked with the credit-card companies for more than a month to repair and mitigate the damages. Mama Kio’s was forced to close its restaurant for lack of customers. LAGB, LLC, a commercial landlord, filed suit against Mama Kio’s for breach of its lease contract and sought damages for rent, insurance, taxes, and capital improvements. LAGB also sued the companies that provided credit-card processing services to Mama Kio’s, alleging that the negligence of the credit-card processing companies caused Mama Kio’s to breach its lease with LAGB. Mama Kio’s filed a cross-claim against the credit-card processing companies, alleging misrepresentations and tortious interference with its business. The credit-card processing companies filed motions compelling LAGB and Mama Kio’s to arbitrate. The trial court granted the motions. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined that while the trial court did not err by compelling Mama Kio’s to arbitrate its cross-claims, it did err by compelling LAGB to arbitrate its claims. View "LAGB, LLC v. Total Merchant Services, Inc." on Justia Law