Decisions – Miss. Ct. App. – Jan. 6, 2015

Margaret Jones v. David Brown –   custody – Margaret and David had a daughter out of wedlock.  After they broke up, they fought over custody. Margaret’s mother intervened arguing that both parents were drug addicts.  David admitted to a long history of substance abuse but testified that he had successfully completed rehabilitation in 2010 and was no longer using drugs.  Margaret claimed she was no longer using but refused to cooperate with drug testing.  Margaret claimed that  David was physically and mentally abusive and was still addicted to drugs.  “The chancellor  did not find Margaret’s allegations credible, and awarded custody to David based on his rehabilitation, steady employment, and superior living conditions.”  The Court of Appeals affirms.

Herman Scott, Individually and as the admin. of the estate of  Stewart Scott, Jr.  v. Anderson Tully –   adverse possession – Scott “filed suit seeking damages after Anderson-Tully Company  removed timber from a twenty-acre parcel of land Scott claimed to own. Scott also sought to quiet and confirm title and to enjoin Anderson-Tully from entering the land. The chancellor dismissed Scott’s claim, finding that Anderson-Tully had acquired title to the twenty acres through adverse possession. Scott appeals, arguing the chancellor erred.”  The Court of Appeals affirms.

Lee Ulmer v. Tracker Marine, LLCorder to enforce settlement is not an appealable final order –   Ulmer purchased a boat and trailer in 2004.  After encountering problems with the boat, in 2007 he filed a complaint  against Tracker Marine LLC. etc. for breach of contract, negligence, etc.  Eventually, Tracker Marine agreed to replace the boat with a newer and more expensive model.  The parties agreed to a settlement whereby  Ulmer would get the  2012 Mako boat and trailer and $5,000 in attorney’s fees in exchange for signing a release.  Ulmer took possession of the new boat on Oct. 30, 2012 but refused to sign the release.  Five months later Ulmer filed a motion to enforce a fair settlement claiming that the replacement boat had a manufacturing defect – the hull on the port side measured higher than the starboard side. Tracker Marine responded by asking the court to enforce the settlement which it did and ordered Ulmer to sign the release within ten days. Ulmer filed a notice of appeal.  Tracker Marine filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, arguing that the order to enforce the settlement, from which Ulmer has appealed, is not a final, enforceable judgment. See M.R.A.P. 2(a).  On appeal, the Court of Appeals agrees. “Finding that the order to enforce the settlement was interlocutory, and not a final, appealable judgment, we dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.”

The Court notes that “[t]he question of whether an order to enforce a settlement is a final judgment has not been explicitly addressed in Mississippi.” “Other jurisdictions, nevertheless, have expressly held that an order enforcing a settlement is interlocutory.”

Travis Straight v. Kristy Lorenz –  seven year custody battle – Three years after their daughter was born, Travis and Kristy obtained an ID divorce.  “According to their agreed divorce judgment, Travis and Kristy had joint legal custody of Jane, Travis had primary physical custody of Jane, Kristy was entitled to certain visitation, and Kristy owed child support.”  Two months later, Kristy filed a motion to modify which the court denied.  Not to be deterred, she filed again eight months later alleging Travis was sexually abusing Jane.  The chancellor found otherwise which the Miss. S. Court affirmed on appeal. Lorenz v. Strait, 987 So. 2d 427, 435 (¶47) (Miss. 2008).  Kristy continued to file motions to modify. At first the chancellor “found that ‘neither party [had] tried as they should’ to ensure Kristy’s visitation with Jane and denied the petition. However, the chancellor modified Kristy’s visitation schedule because Travis had moved to Hawaii, and due to the fact that Hawaii has an eleven-month school schedule.”

More motions followed. Travis claimed Kristy’s husband was molesting Jane and denied Krity visitation.   A GAL was appointed found no truth to the allegations.   Eventually, the chancellor granted Kristy custody of Jane, ordered Travis to pay child support and Jane’s health insurance, and denied Travis’s objections to the GAL’s report and fees. Later the chancellor found Travis was in contempt and ordered Travis to pay $10,000 in attorney’s fees and an additional $1,000 toward the GAL’s fees. Travis appeals.  The Court of Appeals affirms.

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