Decisions – COA -Dec. 8, 2015 – part 2

Edith Gaillard v. North Benton County Health Care – statute of limitations and workers comp. –  Edith Gaillard worked for some 30 years at Benton Medical Center and ended up with carpal tunnel.  Her employer  paid her weekly benefits of $398.93 from the date of injury. Treatment was contested.  Gaillard filed a petition in  December 2010.  In November 2011, the ALJ entered an order finding “…that Claimant has not filed a complete Prehearing Statement per Commission Procedural Rule 5”, and as a result, dismissed the case noting the Order would become final unless a written request for review was filed within twenty (20) days. Id at 8. The ALJ also held the dismissal was “the rejection of a claim” sufficient to trigger the one-year statute of limitations found in Miss. Code Ann. §71-3-53.   Gailliard did not file to  reopen her claim until August 2013.  In April 2014, the ALJ ordered the matter reopened reasoning that because the employer voluntarily continued to pay indemnity benefits until August 6, 2012, the appropriate one year statute of limitation had been tolled.   The Commission reversed the ALJ  finding that the ALJ was  without jurisdiction to  reopen the claim because the prior Order dismissing the claim became final 20 days after being entered, and triggering the commencement of the 1 year statute of limitations.  Gailliard appealed. The COA affirms.

Fred White v. Kenn Cockrell wrongful termination – White was an at-will employee at the  Hinds County Human Resource Agency.  He sued the agency and its president after he was fired.  The court granted summary judgment for the defendants.  White claimed that  he had  questioned Cockrell about HCHRA’s practices, “excessive” expenditures, and payments for services that were both a conflict of interest and illegal and that his firing was for reporting illegal activities, an exception to the emplyment at will doctrine under McArn. The COA affirms the court’s finding that there was not sufficient evidence to sustain a McArn claim.  However, it reverses as to some of White’s other claims –  conspiracy, infliction of emotional distress, libel, and slander – because the defendants moved for summary judgment on only the McArn and the breach of contract claim.

Chad Ellis Everett v, Melissa Everett Burchfield –  custody and tax deductions – The  Everetts divorced in 2013 and split custody of the four kids.  They agreed that he would claim two kids as deductions and she would claim two.   In 2014, Everett sought sole physical custody of the children. Burchfield counterclaimed for  full physical custody.  The court granted full physical custody to Burchfield and altered the parties’ property settlement agreement to allow Burchfield to include all four children as dependents on her tax forms.  Everett appeals. “We affirm the chancellor’s judgment with regard to custody. However, the parties’ property-settlement agreement was not properly before the chancery court for amendment. Accordingly, we reverse and render the chancellor’s ruling as to Burchfield’s right to claim all four children as dependents for tax purposes.”

Lee Voulters v. Leslie Dayle Voulters –  insurance on life of ex-spouse –  In  2004, the Voulters were granted a divorce after  twenty-six years of marriage. She was a housewife.  He’s a doctor.   Lee was ordered to pay $10,000 per month in alimony until reaching the lump sum of $1.08 million. Lee was also to maintain a life insurance policy for $1.08 million, naming Leslie as the primary beneficiary.    In 2013, Leslie filed a petition for contempt  alleging Lee had failed to pay the last two months of lump-sum  payments of $10,000 and failed to provide proof of life-insurance coverage for Leslie.  Lee argued that the obligation to maintain a life insurance policy in the amount of $1.08 million  was to protect Leslie’s lump-sum alimony payments in the event of his premature death, and that she  would no longer have an insurable interest once the alimony was paid in full. The chancellor held that the life insurance obligation remained notwithstanding the fact that the alimony was paid.  The COA affirms.  “The chancellor found the language of the parties’ Agreement unambiguous, and that it did not ‘expressly state that the life-insurance provision would terminate upon the final payment of lump sum alimony.’”

Adrel Tutwiler v. State  –  agg. assault – Adrel Ryan Tutwiler was convicted of aggravated assault for the shooting of Tranongras Hallmon, his roommate while both attended USM.  An argument ensued when Hallmon came home to find that Tutwiler was having a party and Hallman asked the partygopers not to smoke inside.   During this argument, Tutwiler pulled a gun and the two men wrestled for control of the gun but it ended up with Hallmon running from the apartment and  Tutwiler chasing him and shooting him.  On appeal, Tutwiler claims he should have gotten a peremptory instruction that the State failed to prove the necessary elements of the crime, that the trial court erred when it denied his motion for a JNOV  and that Tutwiler did not act in necessary self-defense.  These issues meet their usual fate and the COA affirms.

Joseph Moss v. State manslaughter –  Moss was convicted of two counts of manslaughter.  He killed two people he had been arguing with all day because that’s just how some people are raised (or not raised).   He argues weight and sufficiency of the evidence and has the same lack of success as Mr. Tutwiler.

Gregory Woods v. State burglary –  Woods was convicted of burglary of a dwelling and sentenced as a habitual offender to twenty-five years  without parole.  He argues that the evidence was insufficient.  The COA affirms.

William Michael Jordan v. State –  intro. of rap video about snitches –  William Jordan and his codefendant, Charles Henderson, were charged with killing their acquaintance  Aaron Coleman.  On appeal they argue that it was error to admit into evidence that they  participated in a rap video about killing snitches—a video published on YouTube after the two witnesses had implicated Jordan and Henderson but before Jordan’s trial commenced.  The COA finds this was not error.  Now was Jordan entitled to an accomplice instruction with regard  to the testimony of the two eyewitnesses since they were charged as accessories after the fact and not as accomplices.

The Court denies rehearing in Cindy Petty v. Baptist Memorial but substitutes this new opinion (which means they tweaked it to some degree).



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