Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – Jan. 30, 2014

Joshua Properties, LLC v. D1 Sports Holdings, LLC – this interloc. presents the question of whether Mississippi had personal jurisdiction over Tennessee-based DI Sports Holdings (TN). In 2007, Chris Snopek approached St. Dominics about opening a multi-use sports complex for the Jackson area and they entered into a letter of intent. That letter expired Feb. 28, 2008, but Snopek claimed the parties still worked on the project. Snopek contacted D1(TN), a company that specializes in custom sports-training programs about getting involved. D1 claims that it discussed t he project with Snopek one time. Nonetheless, St. Dominics and D1(TN) worked together to form D1(MS). Snopek, who was left out of D1(MS) sued St. Dominic’s, D1(MS) and D1(TN). The trial court granted D1(TN)’s motion to dismiss the compliant as to it on the grounds that the court lacked personal jurisdiction under Mississippi’s long-arm statute. D1(TN) argued that it is not conducting business within the state because it never: (1) held an office or place of business, (2) solicited business on behalf of itself or through an agent, (3) contracted on behalf of itself or through an agent to supply goods and services, (4) maintained a Mississippi bank account, (5) obtained a telephone listing, etc. The Miss.S.Ct. held that D1(TN) was conducting business in Mississippi because it collaborated with St. Dominic about creating a sports-training facility in the state, communicated and planned with St. Dominic furthering its formation, participated in meetings in the state, substantially participated in the actual creation of D1(MS), and subsequently became members or “joint owners” of D1(MS). Nor would it offend due process since D1 (TN) purposefully availed itself of the benefits of the State of Mississippi by becoming members of and aiding in the formation of an LLC in the state via telephone and electronic communications and by traveling to the state.

Riverbend Utilities, Inc. v. Miss. Env’l Quality Permit Board and Harrison County Utility Board – Riverbend challenged the MDEQPB’s decision to grant two groundwater withdrawal permits to the Harrison County Utility Authority. The Miss.S.Ct. affirmed.

Smith v. BanksGreenwood physician Dr. Smith sought habeas corpus relief after he was denied bail on the capital murder charge (bail was set at $100,000 for the conspiracy charge). It was denied and Smith appealed arguing that the court erred in refusing to allow him to put on evidence at the hebeas hearing. The Miss.S.Ct. disagreed holding that Although the trial court erred in refusing to allow Smith to present evidence in support of his petition for habeas corpus, we find that the evidence proffered by Smith would not have entitled Smith to any relief that the court could have granted.

Baskin v. State – Baskin was charged with possession of cocaine that officers claimed to have found on his person when they were arresting for assault on a police officer. Baskin called two eyewitnesses to testify that there was no cocaine found on Baskin. Over Baskin’s objection, the court allowed the state to impeach one of those eyewitnesses with misdemeanor petty larceny and embezzlement convictions. The way the state got this in was on cross the state asked the witness whether he had ever been convicted of petty larceny and embezzlement. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Miss.S.Ct. granted cert. and reversed holding that it “consistently has held that Rule 609(a)(2) does not allow the use of theft crimes – such as Wallace’s petty-larceny conviction – for impeachment purposes.” “Because this case turned entirely on whether the jury believed the testimony of the defendant’s witnesses, the damage caused by any inappropriate evidence offered to impeach the credibility of those witnesses was heightened.”

Ladner v. Zachry Construction – workers comp. SOL issue – Ladner claimed he injured his back at the end of December 2006 when he was dismantling scaffolding. Ladner first got treatment in Jan. 2007. He was referred to a neurosurgeon who treated him until he reached MMI on May 20, 2008. Ladner, along with a number of other employees, was laid off from Zachry in December 2008. Ladner filed his petition to controvert on August 24, 2009. Zachry claimed that this was outside the two year SOL. Ladner testified that he had continued to work during his treatment and was paid his regular wages from the date of the injury until he reached MMI. The AJ held that Ladner had received wages in lieu of compensation, thereby tolling the statute of limitations. The Commission reversed based on its finding that Ladner’s post-injury work activities were not “so little” as to qualify for wages in lieu of workers comp. and that the claim was time barred. The Harrison County Circuit Court and the Court of Appeals affirmed the Commission’s findings. The Miss.S.Ct. granted cert. and reversed finding that Zachry had failed to rebut Ladner’s testimony that while Ladner performed certain post-injury work activities during this period, he maintained throughout that he spent the majority of the time in the safety trailer doing nothing.

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