Decisions – COA – Dec. 13, 2016 – part 1


Illinois Central Railroad Company v. Bennie Oakes, Deceased, by and through Clara Hagan, His Representative – setoff –  Oakes sued Illinois Central for asbestos-related injuries he suffered as a result of working for the railroad.  The jury found damages of $250,000 and assessed Oakes with 80% negligence and Illinois Central with 20%; the verdict against Illinois Central was for $50,000.   Illinois Central moved for a setoff of Oakes’s damages, asserting that his award should be reduced by the amounts received from asbestosis trust funds and other sources for the same injury. The trial court denied the request and Illinois Central appealed. “Because the complaint was filed under the Federal Employers’ LiabilityAct (FELA) and that act seeks to fully compensate the employee for tortious conduct, we affirm the circuit court’s denial of the setof.”

Herman Scott v. Lillie Scott –  equitable division of property/alimony – Lillie and Herman were married for 16 years when they divorced.   Herman  worked as a facilities manager at Hinds Community College  making approximately $32,400 a year. Lillie, a nurse, was working as director of the cardiothoracic-surgery department at Central Mississippi Medical Center, making approximately $111,000 a year. There was significant debt and Lillie filed for bankruptcy in 2012.  The chancellor ordered Lillie to pay approximately $70,000 of the parties’ debt and Herman was to pay  an IRS debt of $3,357.39. Herman argues that he should have been awarded the marital home and awarded alimony.  The COA affirms.

Derrick Artell Haynes v. State of Mississippi – trial in absentia – Haynes was indicted in the Circuit Court of Leake County as a habitual offender on one count of possession of a cell phone in a private correctional facility.  His  trial was set  for September 11, 2014.  That day Haynes did not appear for trial.  His attorney explained that Haynes’ car had broken down on the way from Meridian and he was trying to arrange a ride to the courthouse. The court, Judge Marcus Gordon, recessed for an hour and when Haynes did not appear, proceeded to try him in absentia. Haynes appeared at the sentencing hearing and told the judge his car had broken down and he did not have the money to pay someone for a ride.  He was sentenced to fifteen years. On appeal, the COA reverses and remands finding that a trial in absentia is not error where the defendant has wilfully not appeared but  “[I]n the case at hand, our precedent supports granting Haynes a continuance before trying him in absentia.”

 Arma J. Morton and Jessie B. Morton v. Walter Quinn and Ressie Quinn – partition – Walter and Ressie Quinn  jointly inherited an equal share of the subject property from Walter’s mother. The majority of Walter’s siblings quitclaimed their interest to Walter but one sibling quitclaimed her interest to her daughter and son-in-law, Jessie and Arma . The Mortons resided in a dilapidated home located on the property.  The Quinns filed a petition to partition the  property.   Arma answered  alleging that she obtained title to a portion of the property through adverse possession.  The court ordered the property to be sold and the Quinns purchased it.  at a hearing to confirm the sale, Arma raised for the first time the Quinns’ failure to name as a party Arma’s husband Jessie.  The Quinns amended the petition to name Jessie  and the sale was eventually confirmed.  The Mortons appealed arguing that Jessie wanted a partition in kind.  The COA reverses. “Since Jessie was not notified of the judicial sale and he did not participate in the agreement for sale, we reverse and remand the judgment granting the partition sale to allow Jessie to proceed to facilitate an in-kind partition of his interest in the property.”

Nancy Ray v. Lowndes County School District –  nonrenewal of teaching contract – after two years of teaching at West Lowndes High School,  Nancy’s teaching contract was not renewed.  The School Board held a hearing and agreed. The chancellor found no error. The COA affirms.

Justin James v. State of Mississippipcr based on witness recantation –  James was convicted of being one of four people who committed  armed robbery, manslaughter, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count of conspiracy to commit armed robbery.  The Mississippi Supreme Court granted him a hearing after he filed a petition for permission to file a pcr motion based on the key witness’s recantation.  After a hearing, the trial court denied relief. The COA affirms.  The recanting witness, Barry Love,   was one of the four people implicated in the crime. At the pcr hearing he testified that he implicated James because his gang wanted James and another codefendant off the street.   Criminal defendants always think that getting a witness to recant means they are home free.  It’s not that easy.
Tommie L. Huey v. LeMorris Strong –  the tenant from hell – In  2009, Acey Huey deeded a lot in Moorhead  to his daughter Fillisa Huey. He then rented the property to his niece  Tommie Huey.  Three years’ layer. Fillisa learned that Tommie was living there and sought to evict her.   Fillisa then  conveyed the property to LeMorris Strong.  Strong began to tear the home down and discovered that Tommie had left some personal belongings in the home and that she was still claiming an interest in the home. He filed an eviction claim which was dismissed after Tommie’s attorney stated that Tommie had completely moved out of the home. Later  Strong filed a complaint to remove clouds and quiet title of the lot in himself. Tommie counterclaimed for wrongful eviction.  The chancellor found Tommy’s claim to be frivolous and granted relief to Strong.   Finding that Tommie “deliberately and without merit placed a cloud upon the title of  Strong  (she had filed a lis pendens) . . . and refused to remove it upon request,” the chancellor also awarded Strong attorney’s fees and damages. Tommie appeals.  The COA affirms.

Ladell Maggett, Jr., Jerry Stewart  and Kelvin Taylor a/k/a Kevin Taylor v. State of Mississippi –  msc. issues in murder trial – Maggett, Stewart, and Taylor were convicted of capital murder in the execution death of  Quenton McKay after a drug deal gone bad.  They were  also convicted of possession of a firearm after a felony conviction.  On appeal they argue they were entitled to a severance, that they should have been allowed to impeach an accomplice with conviction that were more than ten years old, etc. The COA affirms.

Andrew D. Watson v. State of Mississippi –  burglary – Watson was accused of  breaking into the apartment of his best friend’s mother and attempting to sexually assault her.  He was convicted of burglary.  On appeal he argues that the evidence was insufficient. The COA affirms.

Kristi Dearman v. Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi disability – Dearman worked ten years at Stone Middle School in the special-education department. The last year of her employment, she was reassigned as the guidance counselor at Stone Elementary School. Dearman last worked in February 2013 when the administration sent her home after she violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which protects the privacy of student education records.  She was paid through the end of the school year, but her employment contract was not renewed for the following school year.  Shortly before her contract she filed for PERS disability benefits claiming various arm and hand impairments and severe PTSD from losing her job. Her disability claim was denied and the COA affirms.



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