Decisions – Miss. Ct. of App. – Feb. 3, 2015

William Satterfield v. the Miss. Dept. of Human Services –  salaries for state child support attorneys – William Satterfield was employed by DHS as a child support enforcement attorney. Satterfield filed a lawsuit against the State and various agencies contending that he was underpaid. He alleged that various statutes were violated by the low pay given to support enforcement attorneys including MCA  sections 43-19-37 and 43-19-61 (Rev. 2009), “which he argues require the establishment of a special fund that would be used for (among other things) paying his salary. ”  Another statute requires that  “child support enforcement attorneys’ salaries be set ‘in accordance with’  those of assistant attorneys general, and another requiring the Mississippi Personnel Board to conduct an annual survey and raise the starting step of child support attorneys’ salaries ‘accordingly.'”  The chancellor dismissed the case for failure to state a claim.  The COA affirms holding that “‘Violation of statute” in and of itself is not a cognizable cause of action.”

Chris Clausell v. Jeffrey Bourque –  negligent installation of shower door – Clausell purchased sliding glass doors at Lowe’s.   Lowe’s  arranges for a third-party contractor to perform the installation. In this instance, it referred Clausell to Joel Maguzzo.   Maguzzu installed the doors in November of  2008. The inside door began coming out of the track some time later. Within about two months, the door had fallen out of the track ten or fifteen times. Eventually, one of the doors fell off the track and onto Clausell’s foiot causing a deep bruise.  Lowe’s contacted Jeffrey Borque to inspect the installation in order to  determine why the door had fallen off and whether the doors were repairable. Bourque decided the doors would have to be replaced. Borque told Clausell he would be back the next day but for whatever reason he did not return.  The seller promised Clausell that it would hire someone to replace the doors but that did not happen either.  Clausell put the door back up himself and eventually was injured more seriously.  He then sued Lowe’s, Maguzzo and Borque alleging that  Bourque negligently failed to repair the doors, replace them, or warn Clausell of the danger. The trial court granted Bourque summary judgment, and Clausell appeals. The COA affirms finding that Borque had not been hired to replace the doors, only to inspect them.

Sanderson Farms v. Tanya Jessie –  workers comp./carpal tunnel – Jessie worked at Sanderson Farms doing poultry evisceration. After some seven years, she  Jessie developed bilateral carpel tunnel syndrome from repetitive motion in both hands, wrists, and arms.  She was no longer able to do poultry evisceration and was assigned to separate poultry hearts, lungs, and livers, and place them into containers. In June  2011, Jessie filed a petition to controvert.  Sanderson Farms admitted that Jessie had sustained the injuries listed in her petition but denied that she was entitled to temporary or permanent disability benefits. Sanderson Farms also denied that Jessie had sustained a loss of wage-earning capacity.  In July of 2013,  the AJ  found that  Jessie suffered a fifty percent loss of industrial use to each upper extremity as a result of her admitted work-related injuries. The Commission affirmed as does the COA.

Albert Norwood v. Stateright to records re guilty plea –   Norwood pled guilty to failing to re-register as a convicted sex  in November 2012 and was sentenced to four years.   “On October 15, 2013, Norwood mailed a letter to the circuit court asking for various documents from his failure-to-register case. The court treated Norwood’s letter as a motion and denied his request, noting he failed to show good cause for free documents. Norwood appealed.” The COA finds that it lacks jurisdiction.

But Norwood does have the option of requesting documents as part of a PCR motion. Id. at (¶6). If Norwood files a proper and timely PCR motion—and it withstands summary dismissal under Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-39-11(2) (Supp. 2014)—he then “may be entitled to trial transcripts or other relevant documents under the discovery provisions of [section] 99-39-15, upon good cause shown and in the discretion of the trial judge.” Bullock, 1 So. 3d at 943 (¶6).

Tinseltown v. City of Olive Branch – zoning –  Tinseltown was seeking to open a theater in Olive Branch.  It asked for a parcel of land  to be rezoned from agriculture/residential to planned commercial. This City did so but rejected Tinseltown’s propeosed project text.  Tinseltown appeals. The COA reverses and renders.

Jeffrey Allen v. State –  404(b) evidence to prove motive – Jeffrey Allen  was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life without  parole for the murder of  Charles Ike Mason Jr. who was found in his home dead from a single gunshot to the back. Mason’s former girlfriend, Donna Freeman,  and her new boyfriend Jeffrey Allen  were arrested for the crime.  Apparently Freeman and Allen were known to freeload off of Mason. Allen argues he deserves a new trial based on the introduction of bad acts evidence, namely:  that Mason thought Freeman and Allen were stealing money from him; that Allen and Freeman were using drugs; and that Mason thought Allen was “no good,” a “bad guy,” and a “dope head.”  Allen had filed a motion in limine and the court allowed the evidence in to prove motive after performing a balancing test (prejudice v. probative value).  Allen did not object at trial as this evidence was introduced. The COA finds that the court did not abuse its discretion in allowing the evidence in to prove  motive. Allen’s weight of the evidence is also rejected.

Tammy Seago v. Miss. Dept of Employment Securityemployment benefits denied for insubordination –  Tammy Seago worked at a sawmill but was fired for insubordination when she refused to sweep her work area in violation of policy.

Tammy sought unemployment benefits, claiming she did not have a broom and did not refuse to sweep. But the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) Board of Review found the employer’s testimony more credible than hers. Based on its finding that Tammy’s refusal to clean was misconduct, the Board denied benefits. Because credibility determinations are within the Board’s authority and substantial evidence supported its decision, we affirm.

The Court denies rehearing in Elray Jones v. MEA but substitutes the opinion. Here’s the original. Here’s the new opinion.  This was a med mal case where the defendants were granted summary judgment because the plaintiff lacked a medical expert.

Pro Se PCR denial 

Terrell Bass v. State

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