Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – Oct. 15, 2015

Miss. High School Activities Assoc. v. Hattiesburg High School –  no claim against the MHSAA where no contract, tort or other claim – the Mississippi High School Activities Association  declared one of Hattiesburg High School’s students ineligible to participate in athletics. The high school filed for an injunction.   The Forrest County Chancery Court agreed and  vacated the penalties that MHSAA had imposed against HHS. MHSAA appealed. “Because we find that HHS failed to state a legally cognizable claim or cause of action, we vacate the decisions of the Forrest County Chancery Court.”  The party’s arguments centered on whether the MHSAA was an agency whose decisions deserved deference.  The Court asked for additional briefing on the issue: “If the Court finds that the Mississippi High School Activities Association is not an administrative body and cannot be treated as an administrative agency,  does the chancery court have jurisdiction over a suit challenging the decision of a private, voluntary association.”   The Court’s answer is no.

Nowhere in its complaint does HHS allege a breach of contract, a tort, fraud, or any other legally cognizable claim. Contrary to the dissents’ position, there simply is no cause of action for “arbitrariness,” in the absence of a contractual provision or some other legal duty requiring otherwise. For example, MHSAA could decide arbitrarily to paint all of its office doors chartreuse, but unless some contractual provision or other legal duty mandates otherwise, no cause of action arises. As such, HHS’s complaint for injunctive relief was not “predicated upon some legal or equitable claim which will, at some point, proceed to the merits,” and therefore was not within the Forrest County Chancery Court’s jurisdiction. In Re Bell, 962 So. 2d at 541.

Marcia and Donald Marie v. Heather North, M.D. and Gulfshore Medical Consultants, PA –  Admissibility in  medical records of one doctor’s apprasial of another doctor’s treatment – Beginning in  2001, Marcia Marie began experiencing lower extremity pain. She  was eventually referred to  Dr. Heather North who treated her from the spring of 2002 until January 2004, for inflammatory arthritis associated with inflammatory chronic immune demyelinating polyneuropathy and monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance.  In December 2003, Marie was hospitalized for increasing complaints of pain ad  Dr. North determined that Marie’s right leg had no circulation from the knee down. Marie was diagnosed with distal lower extremity vasculitis and ischemic right foot.  Marcia was referred to Dr. Boulware  and  Marcia’s right leg was amputated below her right knee.   Marcia and her husband filed a med mal lawsuit against North.   Prior to trial, the Maries  requested that the court redact a portion of Dr. Boulware’s medical records, a clinic note, which read, “[s]he has been treated and evaluated extremely well by Dr. North and at this time was strongly encouraged to maintain follow-up with her.” The Maries argued this entry was “an unsubstantiated opinion based on speculation and not the full medical records.” The Maries also argued that Dr. Boulware had not been designated as an expert witness and was not subject to cross-examination. The Court denied the motion. A jury found for the defendnats and the Maries appealed.  The Miss.S.Ct. affirms. “The trial court found that Dr. Boulware’s clinic notes were medical records and that physicians routinely consult one another. We find that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the Maries’ motion in limine to exclude entries found in Dr. Boulware’s clinic notes.”

Covington County Bank v. Earnest Ray Magee –   court unable to decide  issue preclusion and SOL issues on 12(b)(6) motion –  Magee had a loan with CCB which was collateralized by two trucks and a trailer.  When Magee stopped making payments, CCB filed for replevin which was granted. Magee filed a complaint for conversion. CCB moved to dismiss, arguing that the statute of limitations had run, that the promissory note gave CCB a contractual right to the property, and that the Court of Appeals’ 2012 decision barred this claim through issue preclusion.   The circuit judge denied CCB’s motion.  CCB requested an interlocutory appeal which was granted.  The Miss.S.Ct. affirms.

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) presents questions of law which we review de novo. On a motion to dismiss, “the allegations in the complaint must be taken as true, and the motion should not be granted unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff will be unable to prove any set of facts in support of his claim.” “Rule 12(b)(6) motions ‘are decided on the face of the pleadings alone.’”10 Here, looking to the face of the complaint, we cannot say that Magee’s claims are time-barred, barred by issue preclusion, or that CCB had a contractual right to the property. So we affirm.

Clayton Hinton v. Nate Rolison –  Clayton Hinton purchased and financed property in Hattiesburg to use as a used car lot.  The mortgage was financed by Wells Fargo.   In agreement with his wife and in contemplation of divorce, he  deeded the property to his two children, Nathan Hinton and Seneca Eubanks but remained obligated on the loan.  Later Hinton took on a partner in the business, Nate Rolison.  In 2012, a dispute arose between Clayton and Nate when  Clayton discovered that the property was no longer titled in his children’s names but in Nate’s name. . The children filed suit to quiet and confirm title in their names, which Clayton joined as a necessary party due to his mortgage interest. The parties ultimately settled their lawsuit at mediation, though Clayton reserved a pending lawsuit against Nate over profit distribution from the business.  Clayton remained obligated on the mortgage with Wells Fargo.  The parties’  settlement agreement provided that the property be foreclosed but had no provision for who would receive  any  surplus foreclosure funds. At the foreclosure sale, the property sold for  $576,000 to Rolison  netting a surplus of $147,045.92.

The instant case was an interpleader filed by Wells Fargo.  Nate filed a  Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings claiming he was entitled to the surplus as the only person with an ownership in the property.  Clayton opposed the Motion  relying upon his right to the surplus funds pursuant to his deed of trust.   Clayton also requested additional time to respond to Nate’s Motion because matters outside the pleadings were offered.  The Court granted the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.   Hinton filed a Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment  and also requested permission to file an amended pleading setting forth facts regarding the settlement agreement  The court denied the motions and Hinton appealed.  The Miss.S.Ct. affirms holding that  “[t]he question before us today is whether a quitclaim deed acts to assign and transfer a grantor’s rights and interests retained in a deed of trust even when that grantor no longer holds title to the property. We hold that it does, and so we affirm.”

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