Articles Posted in Mississippi Supreme Court

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Levon Flowers made a workers' compensation claim against his former employer Crown Cork & Seal USA. The Supreme Court granted Crown’s petition for certiorari to review the compensability of a foot injury Flowers sustained in 2007. The Workers’ Compensation Commission denied Flowers’s request for permanent disability benefits for this injury and awarded temporary total disability benefits for the period between the injury and the date Flowers was cleared by his doctor to return to work. The Court of Appeals reversed, finding that Flowers was entitled to receive temporary total disability benefits until he reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) for his foot injury, which had not yet been determined by his doctors. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the Court of Appeals reached the correct result in this case, but the Supreme Court reached that conclusion based on different precedent. The record in this case reflected that Crown refused to reinstate or rehire Flowers after his doctors released him to return to work. There was also evidence that Flowers underwent an unsuccessful search for alternative employment after Crown refused to rehire him. However, the ALJ and the Commission did not determine when Flowers reached MMI for his foot injury. From the testimony of Flowers' doctor, Flowers had not yet reached MMI as of January 14, 2008. Therefore, this case was not controlled by the Court's holding in "Jordan:" "[the Court] reiterate[d] that it is a primary duty of the Commission to analyze the evidence and determine whether and when a claimant has reached MMI. [. . .] After determining when Flowers reached MMI for his foot injury, the Commission must decide from the evidence presented whether Flowers is entitled to permanent disability benefits." View "Flowers v. Crown Cork & Seal USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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After suffering a severe electrical shock while working as a lineman for Tippah Electric Power Association, Lonnie Smith filed a petition to controvert with the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Commission. Tippah denied that Smith's claim was compensable and raised the affirmative defense that Smith had intentionally injured himself. The administrative judge (AJ) found that Smith had intentionally injured himself and that his injury was not compensable; the Commission affirmed the AJ's denial of the claim. The Court of Appeals affirmed the Commission's decision. The Supreme Court granted certiorari because it found that the Commission's decision was not supported by substantial evidence. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded this case to the Commission for a determination of benefits. View "Smith v. Tippah Electric Power Association" on Justia Law

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George Dukes and Joe Jordan sued Union Insurance Company Inc. as surety on the public official bond of Newton County Circuit Clerk Rodney Bounds. Union filed a crossclaim against Bounds for indemnity. The Circuit Court dismissed the case against Bounds, but found Union liable to Dukes and Jordan. However, it also found Bounds liable to Union for indemnity. Union appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed, finding that Union was not liable to Dukes and Jordan, and that Bounds was not liable to Union for indemnity. The Supreme Court granted Union’s petition for certiorari. Union argued the Court of Appeals erred by finding that Bounds was not liable to Union for indemnity for its attorneys fees and costs incurred in defending the lawsuits filed on Bounds’s public official bond. The Supreme Court affirmed in part, and reversed in part. The Court of Appeals erred to the extent it found that Bounds was not obligated to indemnify Union for reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. View "Newton County v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Machon Lyons suffered severe injuries as the result of an automobile accident. The accident occurred when a vehicle operated by Roderick Holliday left the road and collided with a tree. As a result, Lyons obtained a default judgment of $72,500 against Holliday. Holliday's mother, Daisy Lang, insured the vehicle through Direct General Insurance Company of Mississippi. Lang's policy included a provision specifically excluding Holliday from any coverage under the policy. Accordingly, Direct denied coverage for the judgment. Lyons sought a declaratory judgment, asking the Circuit Court to hold that Lang's policy covered the judgment against Holliday. Lyons acknowledged the policy exclusion, but argued that Lang's policy covered the judgment against Holliday because Mississippi law required minimum-liability coverage for all permissive drivers, and because Lang's insurance card failed to mention any permissive-driver exclusions. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Direct, finding that the policy clearly and specifically excluded coverage of Holliday. The Court of Appeals reversed, finding that 63-15-4(2)(a) required liability insurance for all vehicles operated in Mississippi and that Mississippi Code Section 63-15-43 required that the liability insurance policy "pay on behalf of the named insured and any other person, as insured, using any such motor vehicle or motor vehicles with the express or implied permission of such named insured." Although the Court of Appeals reached the right result, it cited as its authority the incorrect statute, so the Supreme Court granted certiorari. The Court concluded the policy exclusion violated Mississippi law: even though Holliday was an excluded driver under the Direct General policy issued to Daisy Lang, the exclusion did not operate to eliminate liability coverage in the minimum amounts required by statute. The trial court's grant of summary judgment was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Lyons v. Direct General Insurance Company of Mississippi " on Justia Law

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The Workers' Compensation Commission dismissed applicant Matthew Ladner's petition to controvert and motion for payment of benefits because it found the statute of limitations had expired. Ladner appealed that decision to the Supreme Court. Upon review, the Supreme Court reversed the Commission's decision. View "Ladner v. Zachry Construction" on Justia Law

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Sherry Walker was denied disability benefits by the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS). The Circuit Court reversed PERS’s decision. The Court of Appeals reversed the circuit court, reinstating PERS’ denial of benefits. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court concluded PERS’ decision to deny Walker’s request for regular disability benefits was unsupported by substantial evidence. Accordingly, the Court reversed part of the appellate court's decision and reversed the Circuit Court's decision, and remanded the case with instructions to enter judgment in Walker’s favor on her regular disability benefits claim. View "Public Employees' Retirement System v. Walker" on Justia Law

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The issue before the Supreme Court in this case arose from an alleged breach of contract and bad-faith denial of Dr. Jack and Margaret Hoover’s homeowner’s insurance claim against United Services Automobile Association (USAA) following Hurricane Katrina. The trial judge granted USAA’s motion for directed verdict as to the Hoovers’ claims for: (1) the unpaid portion of losses; (2) mental anguish and emotional distress; and (3) punitive damages. The trial court further determined that there were issues of fact for the jury as to whether the Hoovers’ roof structure was damaged, and as to the Hoovers’ claim for additional living expenses. The jury found for the Hoovers and granted compensatory damages. The Hoovers appealed and USAA cross-appealed. After its review of the record, the Supreme Court found that trial court applied an incorrect legal standard and improperly shifted a burden of proof to the Hoovers. Therefore the Court reversed the directed verdict as to the unpaid damages, and remanded the case for a jury to determine whether USAA proved by a preponderance of the evidence that the unpaid loss was caused by an excluded storm surge. The trial court did not err, however, in directing a verdict for USAA as to the Hoovers’ claims for mental anguish, emotional distress, and punitive damages. View "Hoover v. United Services Automobile Association" on Justia Law

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Sweet Valley Missionary Baptist Church filed a complaint against its insurance carrier, Alfa Insurance Corporation. Based on Sweet Valley’s failure to cooperate in discovery, the trial court entered an order of dismissal. Sweet Valley then filed a motion to set aside judgment, or, in the alternative, a motion for new trial. The trial court denied the motion, and, in response, Sweet Valley filed a second complaint against Alfa the same day. The trial court dismissed the second claim based on the expiration of the statute of limitations. Sweet Valley appealed. On rehearing, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s judgment and remanded for further proceedings. Alfa filed a petition for writ of certiorari, and the Supreme Court granted it. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that a motion filed pursuant to Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) tolls the applicable statute of limitations, and it reversed the decision of the trial court. View "Sweet Valley Missionary Baptist Church v. Alfa Insurance Corporation" on Justia Law

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In an interlocutory appeal from the trial court's denial of defendant Vaughn Bowden, PA's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Plaintiffs Cherie Blackmore and Diane Young sued their former employer, Vaughn Bowden, regarding the presence of toxic mold in two of the firm's offices in which they worked. They also argued they were exposed to sewer gas and a natural gas leak. Plaintiffs also sued Lowry Development and its owner who owned a second building in which Blackmore and Young claimed they were injured. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that plaintiffs failed to allege any facts by defendants' which rose to the level of intent that would remove their claims from the exclusivity of the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Act. Plaintiffs' only avenue for relief against the firm was in workers' compensation. Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court in dismissing plaintiffs' complaint. View "Vaughn & Bowden, PA v. Young" on Justia Law

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Defendants Pam Wood, David Wood, Justin Wood, Josh Wood and Jacob Wood filed an interlocutory appeal for the Supreme Court to determine whether the circuit court abused its discretion in denying their motion to transfer this case to another county. The underlying case involved a car accident in which a question arose over who was covered by an insurance policy. Defendant Pam Wood applied for the coverage in Covington County; the application was faxed from an insurance agent's office in Covington to Plaintiff Safeway Insurance Company's Rankin County office where it was approved. Safeway opposed the transfer of venue. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that Safeway could not demonstrate sufficient facts to support that venue was proper in Rankin County. Therefore the Court reversed the circuit court's order and remanded the case with instructions to transfer it to a permissible venue. View "Wood v. Safeway Insurance Co." on Justia Law