Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – March 10, 2016

Miss. Dept. of Revenue v. Hotel & Restaurant Supplysales taxes/supplies sold to contractors – The Department of Revenue performed an audit of Hotel Restaurant and Supply for sales between  August 1, 2006 through August 31, 2009 and determined that certain items sold by Hotel & Restaurant on which tax had not been collected, under the exemption of Miss. Code Ann. § 27-65-21, did not meet the qualifications of having become a component part of the structure.  Under Mississippi law,  supplies sold to contractors are  taxed at 3½% – instead of 7% – if (1) a material purchase certificate is presented to the supplier and (2) the supplies ultimately become a component part of the structure.  The Department assessed an additional tax of $408,740 which Hotel & Restaurant appealed arguing that  the Department should have sought to collect any taxes from contractors – and not the supplier – since (1) it was a contractors’ tax, (2) the contractors were in the best position to determine whether property ultimately became a component part as it was the contractors who built the structures and made that determination, (3) the applicable statute placed duties upon the contractors and not the suppliers, and (4) the standard practice was for contractors to itemize to the Department the property that was not a component part. The Board of Tax Appeals agreed with Hotel & Restaurant Supply and found in its favor. The Chancery Court of Hinds County affirmed.  The Department appeals arguing that the court applied the wrong  standard of review.  The Court affirms.

Jim Doe and Barbara Doe, Individually and as Natural Parents of Ann Doe, a Minor, and as Administrator of the Estate of Barbara Doe, Deceased, and Ann Doe v. Rankin Medical Center and Larry Swales, as Administrator of the Estate of Gina McBeth, Deceased Ann Doe was treated at Rankin Medical Center and one of its nurses after she was sexually assaulted. She sued the hospital for breaching her confidentiality.  She claims that when she returned to school, she was teased about the assault; unidentified classmates said theyhad heard about the incident from a classmate, who was the daughter of Gina McBeth, a nurse who worked in the emergency room at Rankin Medical.  The trial court granted summary judgment in McBeth’s and Rankin Medical’s favor.  Doe appealed arguing that circumstantial evidence and McBeth’s credibility created a genuine issue of material fact. The Court affirms.

 

Bobby Leon Gibson v. Williams, Williams & Montgomery, P.A. and Joseph H. Montgomery –  legal malpractice – Deborah Miles Gibson was declared unable to manage her finances and her brother Michael Leroy Miles  was appointed as her  conservator in March 2009.    When Mrs. Gibson died in September of  2010, it turned out (Appellant claims) that  $235,000 had been disbursed from her conservatorship account leaving only  $4,000.  Upon her death, Mrs. Gibson’s conservatorship proceeding was converted into an estate proceeding.  Williams, Williams and Montgomery represented Miles who became the executor of his sister’s estate.

After the estate was closed, in May 2012,, Mrs. Gibson’s husband Bobby Gibson filed to reopen the estate.  According to WWM, Gibson failed to set the motion for a hearing or even serve it on the parties to the Estate.  Five days later Gibson  filed a legal malpractice lawsuit against WW&M alleging that the firm represented him and that the dual representation of Bobby Gibson and the executor of the estate was a conflict of interest.   The circuit court in the legal malpractice case transferred the case to the chancery court. Gibson did not refile the case in chancery.  WWM  filed a motion  for summary judgment arguing that Gibson’s claims were collaterally estopped by the estate case, that it never had an attorney client relationship with Bobby Gibson,  and causation was lacking because Gibson caused his own damages, if any, by not appealing the estate case.  The chancellor granted WWM’s motion and Gibson appealed.  The Court reverses and remands finding that the “identity of the cause of action” element was lacking since in asking to reopen the estate, Bobby was seeking merely to investigate alleged wrongful conduct.  He did not assert  any legal-malpractice or fiduciary-duty claims.

 

Crystal Finnie v. Lee County Board of Supervisors unemployment – Crystal Finnie started working for the Lee County Sheriff’s Department  in 2004 as a Juvenile Detention Officer. In 2006, she was promoted to Corporal Correctional Officer.   The sheriff’s dress code required all officers to wear pants.   Finnie converted to the Pentecostal religion which does not allow women to wear pants.  The sheriff fired  Finnie in April 2009, for noncompliance with  dress code.   Finnie applied for unemployment which the Department of Employment Security granted.  Lee County appealed and the circuit court reversed finding that  Finnie intentionally violated the sheriff’s policies. Finnie also filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging religious discrimination.  The court granted summary judgment to Lee County and the Fifth Circuit affirmed. During the MDES hearings, the sheriff’s office put on evidence that the wearing of a skirt compromised safety.  The Miss.S.Ct. reverses finding that Finnie did not commit misconduct.

With this exacting standard in mind, we find that Finnie’s behavior here did not amount to misconduct. Perhaps most importantly, Finnie never wore a skirt to work after Johnson told her she could not. And the employee manual expressly allowed other department employees to wear skirts and contained a nondiscrimination policyFinnie thought applied to her situation.4 In short, Finnie’s conduct was not “willful, wanton, or equally culpable.

 

Marcia F. Howard v. Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi – per curiam affirmance (no opinion).

 

One thought on “Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – March 10, 2016

  1. In Doe v Rankin Medical Center (CO111327), decided 3/10/16, the decision several times refers to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act as HIPPA rather than the correct form HIPAA.

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