Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi

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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