Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – May 12, 2016

William Chad Wigington v. Laura McCalopfinal judgment – Dr. Chad Wigington and  Dr. Laura McCalop were divorced.  Three years later Chad asked the court to reopen the case on the grounds the settlement agreement  was procedurally and substantively unconscionable. The chancellor  declined to set aside the divorce settlement agreement but  established a procedure by which Chad and the couple’s minor child, L.P., might be reunited and begin a father-child relationship. Chad appealed and  Laura cross-appealed.  The Court dismisses the appeal. “Because the chancellor retained jurisdiction to supervise the reunification process and to revisit the case in six months for further review, the order and opinion did not constitute a final, appealable judgment. Therefore it is, not appropriate for consideration on direct appeal. Accordingly, we dismiss and remand.”

Spencer Ivy, on Behalf of Himself and the Other Wrongful Death Beneficiaries of Charlene Ivy v. East Mississippi State Hospital –   Tort Claims Act/person to be served with notice –   Charlene Ivy was admitted to EMSH  in May of  2012 and  died on July 17, 2012.  Her son   sent a Notice of Claim letter to  EMSH Director Charles Carlisle.  Ivy then filed a wrongful-death suit against EMSH.  EMSH filed a motion to dismiss arguing  that Ivy had not complied with the MTCA notice requirements because he had not provided notice to the “chief executive officer of the State Department of Mental Health.”   The trial court dismissed the lawsuit.  The Miss.S.Ct. reverses.    “Section 11-46-11(j)’s definition of ‘State’ includes hospitals, and the DMH is not a substitute for EMSH’s CEO.”

Cardie Blackwell a/k/a Cardie B. Blackwell v. Howard Industries, Inc. – final judgment – Howard  Industries’ filed Petition for Writ of Certiorari from an opinion issued by the Court of Appeals of Mississippi which was an  from an order from the Circuit Court of Jones County  striking Blackwell’s brief and reply brief from the circuit court record.

Contrary to the language of Blackwell’s brief and the opinion of the Court of Appeals, the order dated March 6, 2014, did not dismiss Blackwell’s appeal from the Workers’ Compensation Commission. The circuit court only ordered and adjudged “that the Brief of Appellant and Reply Brief of Appellant shall be stricken.” Clearly, the order from which Blackwell appealed was not a final judgment on the merits of the case and Blackwell’s appeal therefrom is interlocutory in nature. Therefore, the Court of Appeals lacked appellate jurisdiction to issue its opinion, the Supreme Court similarly lacks jurisdiction to consider Howard Industries’ petition for a writ of certiorari, and Blackwell’s appeal from the Circuit Court of Jones County must be dismissed.

The Mississippi Bar v. Neal H. Labovitz – attorney discipline – Labovitz was permanently barred by the N.D. Miss. bankruptcy court after he filed a bankruptcy petition on behalf of his client’s estranged husband.  He did not have authority to file the petition and forged the signatures.  The Mississippi Supreme Court orders Labovitz permanently disbarred.

At the Show Cause Hearing, Mr. Labovitz freely admitted that Mrs. Dobbs, not the Debtor, had taken the [credit counseling] course, over the phone, using a member of Mr. Labovitz’s staff as an intermediary. He attempted to justify this action by saying that Mrs. Dobbs had taken the course in the Debtor’s stead when the then-couple had filed a joint case in the past, as if that conduct had been permissive. Mr. Labovitz did not fully explain why he felt as though the impersonation was appropriate, especially given that the 2015 case was not another joint case, but one solely for the Debtor. Mr. Labovitz further reasoned to the Court that he felt as though filing for the Debtor was necessary to stay a pending foreclosure on the mobile home in which the Debtor lived. He did not explain, however, why he felt as though the filing was a decision appropriatelymade by either the Debtor’s estranged wife, or himself, rather than the Debtor


Mississippi State Representative House Speaker, Phillip A. Gunn v. Representative J. P. Hughes, Jr. – legislature’s use of reading machineThe Court grants an interloc. from Judge Kidd’s ruling barring the legislature from using a reading machine.  Under House rules, any member can ask the clerk to read bills aloud. This year, several Democrats asked to have bills read in protest in an effort to slow the operations of the House to a crawl.   Representative Jay Hughes petitioned the court to stop the House leadership from using a speed reader.  Judge Kidd issued the restraining order and scheduled a hearing for March 28 at 9:00 AM.  Judge Kidd decreed that the bills shall be read “in a normal speed audible level comprehensive lever so that each member of the House of Representatives has an opportunity to hear and understand each word of each such properly requested reading..”.
In March, Hinds County Circuit Judge Winston Kidd  issuing a temporary-restraining order. The state’s high court dissolved the order without explanation. It now grants the interlocutory appeal and asks for briefing on the following:

The parties shall address (1) whether the judiciary has jurisdiction over this dispute in light of Sections 1 and 2, Article 1 of the Mississippi Constitution, and/or (2) whether this Court should refrain from exercising its jurisdiction over the issues raised in this matter. In briefing the issues, the parties should address Hunt v. Wright, 70 Miss. 298, 11 So. 608 (1892), Tuck v. Blackmon, 798 So. 2d 402 (Miss. 2001), and any other authority they deem relevant to the matters before this Court.



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