Decisions – Ct. of App. – April 15, 2014

Residential Advantage Development v. Estate of Ross – The Ross family owns lot 20 of Beverly Heights. RAD owns lot 21.  RAD mistakenly built a house on Lot 20.  When Rad discovered its mistake, it sued for a constructive lien and to require the Ross family to sell it Lot 20 at its unimproved value. The Ross family counterclaimed asking to have the house removed from its lot. The chancellor ordered that Rad remove or demolish the house in 90 days and RAD appealed.  RAD argued that the court should have considered ejectment pursuant to MCA Sect. 11-19-95. The chancellor rejected this argument because the mistake was due to RAD’s failure to conduct a survey before building.  On appeal, the court held that the chancellor’s ruling was not an abuse of discretion. 

Matlock v. Miss. Dept. of Human Services –  Heidi Matlick gave birth to Jason in 1996.  Since 1998, Jason had resided with his paternal grandparents, the Flakes. In 2002, Heidi and the Flakes filed a joint petition for custody. The Court granted temporary custody to the Flakes and ordered Heidi and Jason’s father  to pay child support. In 2008, DHS filed a petition for contempt against Heidi for almost $21,000 in back child.  The Flakes, having found out that Heidi had changed Jason’s last name  (in a Tennessee court) to that of Heidi’s now husband, asked that the name be changed back. The chancellor found Heidi in contempt and in arrears by some $10,000.  The court also restored Jason’s last name. Heidi appealed pro se raising issues such as “why should the Flakes not found to have violated Heidi’s civil rights?”  In other words, Heidi failed to argued the issues decided by the trial court and failed to cite any authority for the issues she did raise.  Therefore, she has waived any issues.  However, in looking at the merits of the trial court’s decision, the Court of Appeals can find no fault therein and the case is affirmed.  

Saucier v. The Peoples Bank of Biloxi –  Saucier purchased  some 80 acres of undeveloped land in Vancleave, Miss. from Elizabeth Sekul. Approximately three months before the sale was completed, the South Miss. Electrical Power Assoc. requested permission to survey the property in anticipation of putting up a power line.  After receiving the letter,  Sekul met with Sliman,  a representative of the Peoples Bank (and also a longtime friend) and asked him to be on the lookout for someone to buy the land.  Saucier ended up purchasing the land without knowing that SMEPA would be seeking an easement.  Two years later, he was contacted by SMEPA regarding the easement it was seeking to place power lines. After SMEPA filed an eminent domain suit, Saucier asked for a stay of that suit and filed suit against Sekul and the Bank for failing to disclose that SMEPA would be seeking to place power lines on the property.  Saucier’s claims were 1) breach of fiduciary duty; 2) breach of duty of fairness; 3) breach of contract;  4) negligent misrepresentation and 5) fraud.   The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants. On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed finding that there were material issues of disputed facts as to all of the claims.  

Forrest General Hosp. v. Humphrey –  Humphrey was a security guard at the hospital.  He claimed he injured his back when ne and two others had to restrain a violent psychiatric patient. He did not seek medical attention for several months. Finally, seven months later, he saw a doctor for his back pain. He later filed a petition to controvert. The AJ and the Commission found that Humphrey sustained a compensable injury and the hospital appealed claiming that the ruling was erroneously based on the hospital’s initially voluntarily paying benefits.  The Court of Appeals affirms finding that the AJ relied on the testimony of witnesses in addition to the voluntary payments evidence.  

Harper v. Banks, Finley, White & Co.  –  Harper was a partner and president of Banks, Finley, White & Co. accountants.  In 1995 he was diagnosed with high blood pressure.  Afterwards, Harper intermittently took his blood pressure medication and, in 2000, he suffered a stroke. When he returned to work, he worked fewer weekends. In 2001, his wife found him in the bed non responsive,  He was taken to the hospital where he died from another stroke.  Harper’s family filed two petitions to controvert – one for each stroke.  The AJ found the strokes to be related and combined the cases. The AJ found the strokes to be work related. The Commission found that the strokes were based on a preexisting condition and apportioned the benefits by 65%. On appeal, the Circuit Court agreed with the Commission but found that Harper’s decision (as president of the company) not to obtain workers compensation insurance disqualified him from receiving benefits. On appeal, the Court of Appeals held that MCA Sect. 71-3-79 was not ambiguous in that it stated that an executive officer can elect to exclude himself if he does so in writing.  Here there was no writing. Thus, the Commission’s finding that Harper did not opt out was supported by substantial evidence.   There was also substantial evidence to support the commission’s decision that Harper suffered a compensable injury. The Court of Appeals reverses and reinstates the Commission’s judgment. 

Anderson v. State – Anderson was found guilty of murder for shooting a person  and aggravated assault for shooting another person who had the fortune not to die. This occurred at the Boiler Room nightclub. Apparently Anderson and Mccord were getting ready to fight when Anderson fired at McCord killing him and wounding a bystander.  On appeal, he argues that the court made a de facto finding that the killing was not murder when the parties were discussing the issue of whether a manslaughter instruction should be granted. The Court rejects this argument on the grounds that when the trial court held that manslaughter was an available option, it was viewing, as it must, the evidence in the favor of the defendant.  The court did not err in denying a jnov and.or motion for new trial. Nor did the court err in refusing to admit police reports under the business records exception to the hearsay rule.  The reports contained hearsay statements of witnesses and the defense was able to cross examine witnesses regarding these earlier statements.  Anderson asserted that it was error for the court to allow the state to adduce that ammunition was found at Anderson’s residence.  The court held that the trial court did not err in finding that the probative value of the evidence outweighed its prejudicial effect. Anderson also raises two issues of prosecutorial misconduct – 1)  allegedly asking misleading questions and 2) failing to call as a witness the lead investigator.  The court holds that these issues are procedurally barred and that they lack merit. 

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