Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – Jan. 7, 2016

James Wilson v. Pearlean Davis  – custody/natural parent presumption –  James Wilson is the father of Sha’Nyla Wilson.  Sh’s parents were unmarried and her mother was awarded custody.  When Sha’s morther died, the maternal grandmother, Pearlean Davis, refused to return the girl to James.  The chancellor awarded custody to Pearlean  analyzing James’ petition as one of modification from the original decision awarding custody to the mother. The COA reversed and held that the chancellor should determine whether the natural parent presumption was rebutted.  The chancellor did not have another hearing but amended her opinion to hold that the presumption had been rebutted.  On appeal this time, the COA affirmed finding that James’ conduct was so immoral that he was unfit to have custody. The Miss. S. Ct granted cert. and finds that the chancellor erred in not holding a hearing so that the circumstances between the original hearing and the reversal a year and a half later could be addressed.   Furthermore, the evidence cited by the chancellor was insufficient to rebut the natural parent presumption.  Long discussion of what it takes to rebut the natural parent presumption in opinion authored by Justice King.

Cherri Porter v. Max Mullins –  Katrina/ insurance –  Porter’s house was demolished when it was struck by Grand Casino’s moorings during Hurricane Katrina. “Because Porter’s all-risk insurance policy excluded from coverage damage caused by water or windstorm, State Farm Fire and CasualtyCompany (State Farm) denied Porter’s claim. Porter filed suit against the insurance agent who maintained the policy, Max Mullins, against State Farm, and against Grand Casino.”   The trial court granted summary judgment for each defendant and the COA affirmed.  The Miss.S.Ct. granted cert. and also affirms.

Devin Jones v. Miss. Employment Security Commission – unemployment benefits/leaving work early – Jones worked for T&L Specialty Company.  He left work early one day when he  learned that his fiancé was having complications related to her pregnancy.  He did not notify his supervisor but asked a co-worker to do so and the co-worker failed to follow through.  Jones’ supervisor concluded that Jones had voluntarily quit.  Jones returned to work the following day and pleaded to keep his job.  The MESC determined that Jones was guilty of misconduct and denied benefits.  The Miss.S.CVt. reverses finding that the MESC relied upon the employer’s handbook but the handbook makes a distinction between leaving early and failing to show.  “By the very terms of the employee handbook—upon which the ALJ relied—Jones was required to notify his employer only if he was going to be late or absent.”   The Court reverses and remands “for a proper determination of whether Jones is eligible for unemployment benefits.”

Quality Diesel Service v. Tiger Drilling Company –  garnishment – In 2004, Quality Diesel obtained a judgment against Gulf South Drilling.   After learning that Tiger Drilling was indebted to Gulf South, Quality served writs of garnishment on Tiger throughout 2004- 2006.  Tiger Drilling’s response was that it was indebted to Gulf South but the debt was not yet due.   In 2014, Tiger Drilling moved to dismiss the garnishment proceeding because the time for enforcing the underlying judgment had lapsed and not been renewed.  The circuit court dismissed the garnishment proceeding.   On appeal, the Miss.S.Ct. reverses finding that the issue of whether the garnishment is still valid when the time for enforcing the underlying judgment has lapsed is a question of first impression.

We hold that where a party commences a garnishment proceeding at a time when the underlying judgment is still valid, the statute of limitations for actions on judgments is tolled as to that particular party as to funds—due to the judgment debtor—that actually were in the hands of the garnishee at the time the garnishment proceeding was initiated and at the time the underlying judgment was valid. A garnisher is not entitled to those funds, due to the judgment debtor, which came into the garnishee’s hands only after the underlying judgment had lapsed.

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