Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – August 11, 2016

Linde Health Care Staffing, Inc. v. Claiborne County Hospital – arbitration/full faith and credit –   Linde Health Care entered into a contract with Patient’s Choice Medical Center of Claiborne County, LLC,  to staff the Claiborne County Hospital.  When Patient’s Choice breached the contract by failing to pay, Linde Health Care invoked the arbitration procedures in the contract and was awarded a judgment of $182,849.73 plus pre and post judgment interest.    Linde Health Care then had the judgment confirmed in a Missouri Court.   Linde did not proceed against Patient’s Choice, however.  Linde proceeded  against Claiborne County Hospital. The County had to take over the hospital after Patient’s Choice breached the contract.

Thereafter, Linde Health Care sought to enforce the judgment in the Circuit Courts of Claiborne and Madison County.  CCH contested enforcement of the judgment on the grounds that the Hospital did not sign the contract with Linde.  Both courts agreed with CCH.  Linde Health Care argues that the Mississippi courts did not have the power to vacate the judgment of the Missouri Court  pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause and that the Hospital’s sole method of attacking the arbitration award was via the provisions of the Federal Arbitration Act and the time for doing so had elapsed. CCH argued that the Mississippi courts did not set aside the award; rather, they refused to enforce it because CCH was not a proper party to the proceeding inasmuch as the contract was with Patient’s Choice.   The Miss..Ct. affirms finding that “the FAA cannot bind an entity that neither agreed to arbitrate nor contracted the arbitration claimant.”

Amfed National Insurance Co., American Federated Insurance Co., and Amfed Companies, LLC v. NTC Transportation, Inc. – insurance  renewal –     NTC provides non-emergency medical transportation.  It obtained workers compensation coverage through the Mississippi Assigned Risk Plan, with AmFed as its carrier.   On November 13, 2003, AmFed sent NTC a renewal notice, offering to renew the policy for another year if payment was received before the expiration date of January 19, 2004.  It later sent a second notice.  NTC did not pay until February 4, 2005.  According to NTC, it gave the check to its insurance agent on January 19, but the agent did not send it until February 3, so that it was received by AmFed on February 4, two weeks late.

In the interim, an NTC employee, Rhondy Mickle, suffered a work-related injury  on January 22, 2004.   Mickle’s workers compensation claims were settled  with AmFed and NTC agreeing to preserve the coverage issue for litigation.

In the coverage litigation in Hinds County Court, NTC was granted  partial summary judgment on its claim for breach of contract; court found that the parties had entered into a valid contract for coverage from January 19, 2004, which came into existence when AmFed deposited the premium check, and which contained the same terms and conditions as those outlined in the prior renewal notice.     The Circuit Court, on appeal, affirmed.  AmFed appealed again.  AmFed argues that the court’s finding that the contract covered the two weeks was error; that it was not required to mail renewal notices via certified mail; and that venue in Hinds County was error. The Miss.S.Ct. reverses and renders. “NTC argues that when it sent in its late premium payment it had submitted a counteroffer to AmFed for backdated coverage beginning on January 19, 2004, which AmFed the accepted by depositing the premium check.  We simply cannot accept such an argument.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Anthony Carr v. State of Mississippi intellectual deficits and the death penalty –     Carr was granted a hearing to determine whether his intellectual functioning was such as to permit him to be executed.  The trial court found that the   question was a close call and found for the State.

Here, the circuit judge held: “It can be said comfortably that Carr’s IQ, as demonstrated by the tests which were given, falls some where in the 70-75 range.” But— despite Carr’s full  scale  IQ between 70 and 75 — the circuit judge failed to consider intellectual and
adaptive functioning as an interrelated analysis. Instead, he found that Carr failed to prove subaverage intellectual functioning, and that this failure alone disposed of the case. He stated: “[T]his court cannot find by a preponderance of the evidence that Carr has carried his burden of proof” to show significantly sub-average intellectual functioning. “[T]his finding alone is sufficient to deny Carr’s claim of mental retardation.” This finding was clearly erroneous as a matter of law.
Then, based on the “significance of [his] decision,” the circuit judge stated he would
proceed to consider the two remaining criteria. But despite finding that Carr had
proven the existence of two adaptive functioning deficits, the circuit judge  did not
identify those deficits,  make any findings regarding their severity, or consider them as part of an interrelated analysis witrh Carr’s intellectual functioning.  Because “the medical community’s diagnostic framework” recognizes that Carr’s IQ between 70 and 75, coupled with “severe adaptive behavior problems” could support a diagnosis of intellectual disability, the circuit judge applied an incorrect legal standard by treating Carr’s IQ score alone as dispositive of this case, and by failing to balance and analyze his adaptive functioning deficits with his IQ score.  We therefore  reverse the trial court judgment and remand this case to provide the circuit judgean opportunity  to consider whether Carr’s adaptive functioning deficits – which the circuit judge found to exist – are so severe that Carr should be ruled intellectually disabled  through an interrelated analysis with his IQ scores, which the circuit judge  found to be between 70 and 75.


Lamarcus Jones  v. State of Mississippicodefendant’s deal – Jones was convicted of murder and sentenced to life.   Jones was convicted of killing Marveo Lane by shooting him in his car outside a nightclub in Macon.  This was over some pathetic beef he had with Lane.   The person who accompanied him during the shooting pleaded guilty and testified against Jones.  On appeal Jones argues sufficiency which gets him nowhere.  He also argues that the trial court erred in not forcing the state to reveal the deal it made with the codefendant.  After he testified against Jones, the codefendant  got 12 years.  Here the codefendant denied that there was any deal and Jones has not presented evidence that there was any such deal.  The court also finds that Jones was not denied a fair trial when the court did not grant an instruction that accomplice testimony must be viewed with caution.

Gregory Wayne Colburn v. State of Mississippi –  exploitation of a vulnerable adult – convicted of two counts of exploitation of a vulnerable adult and sentence to two ten year sentences to run consecutively.  Colburn was selling burial insurance when he befriended one of his clients. In 2011, she executed a power of attorney in Colburn’s favor and in 2012, after she moved into an assisted living home, she wrote him checks from between $3000 to $52,000.  On appeal he argues that the exploitation statute is unconstitutional, that the evidence was insufficient, that the court erred in allowing the jury to see a photo of the victim, etc.  The Miss.S.Ct. affirms.

Perry Armstead v. State of Mississippiright to confrontation – Armstead was convicted of sale of cocaine (less than 2 grams) and sentenced to 16. On appeal he argues that it was error to allow the City forensic scientist to testify regarding exhibit 2 given that she was only the “technical reviewer” for that exhibit.   Armstead did not object at trial. Furthermore, as the technical reviewer, she was actively involved in the analysis and, thus, Armstead’s right to confront the witnesses against him was not violated.

Cynthia Renee Crider v. DeSoto County Convention and Visitors Bureaupremises liability/Tort Claims Act  – Crider fell in a hole covered by grass on the grounds of the DeSoto County Visitor’s center.  She sued. The trial court granted summary judgment on the grounds that it involved a discretionary function.  The Miss.S.Ct. affirms.

The Court grants an interlocutory appeal in Family Dollar Stores of Mississippi, Inc. v. Lisa Harris, Individually as an Interested Party, and as Parent, Guardian and Next Friend of and on Behalf of Robreecus Kitchens and Kendrick Kitchens, Minors and Heirs-at-Law of Rodmekus D. Kitchen.  This was an appeal from a grant of summary judgment in 2011.  The plaintiff’s attorney disputed the estimated cost of preparing the record.  The Miss.S.Ct. dismissed the appeal.  In May 2016, the plaintiff was granted a reinstatement of the appeal by the trial court.  The Mississippi Supreme Court vacates the order of reinstatement. (This screw-up was courtesy of Precious Martin & Associates.  All I can say is KARMA!).

Landres Cheeks, Shoney Harris, L.C. Slaughter and Cleotha Williams v. City of Canton, Mississippi, Alderman Rodriquez Brown, Alderman Eric Gilkey, Andrew Grant, Olivia Harrell, Reuben Myers, Les Penn, Daphne Sims and Arnel Bolden – the Court affirms per curiam.




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