Decisions – COA – March 14, 2017

Sandra Morgan  v. State of Mississippi – competence to stand trial – Morgan was convicted of conspiring with Devonta Anderson to kill her husband Billy. Authorities learned of the scheme before it could be carried out and at some point Morgan came t o law enforcement to give a statement.  After signing a waiver, she gave two statements and was arrested.  She was convicted and setenced to fifteen years with five suspended.  On appeal she argues that the trial court erred in not suppressing her  second statement and in denying her motion for a  mental competency evaluation.  Her mother had been killed in a tornado shortly before she met Devonta. She was grieving for her mother and also suffered from  bipolar  disorder and depression.   During the hearing on the motion for a competency evaluation,  only Billy testified and he recounted Sandra’s diagnosis and that she seemed confused. “Morgan’s counsel did not submit evidence of Morgan’s psychiatric medications, nor did they present any substantiating evidence to support Morgan’s mental-incompetence claim.”  Given the paucity of evidence, the trial court did not err in refusing to order a competency evaluation.  Nor was there sufficient evidence to suppress Morgan’s second statement.  She came to the sheriff’s office voluntarily after learning Devonta was detained.

Gertrude Brooks, Individually and On Behalf of the Estate and Wrongful Death Beneficiaries of Leroy Brooks v. The Landmark Nursing Center, Inc. d/b/a The Landmark Nursing and Rehabilitation Center –  deemed admissions and summary judgment – Brooks filed suit against the nursing home wherein her husband resided just before he died.  She claimed that  he died as a result of negligent care and understaffing at the facility.   The nursing home served Brooks with discovery including requests for admissions on June 5, 2014. There was no response. On August 15, 2014, the nursing home  filed a motion for summary judgment based on the deemed admissions.  On September 12,  Brooks served answers to discovery.  She did not respond to the summary judgment motion, move to  withdraw her admissions or  respond to the admissions. . In November the trial court ordered her to respond to the motion for summary judgment.  Brooks filed a response in December along with a physician’s affidavit.  Based on the deemed admissions, though, the court granted summary judgment.  The COA affirms. “Even after Landmark filed a motion for summary judgment based on her deemed admissions, Brooks waited another four months to file a motion to withdraw the admissions pursuant to Rule 36(b), and Brooks never actually responded to the requests.”

Marvin Titus  v. State of Mississippi – sufficiency of the evidence – Titus was convicted of murder and sentenced as a habitual offender to  life without eligibility for parole. He also was sentenced to a  ten-year firearm-enhancement.  At 1:09 a.m. in  January 2013, Raymond Vicks opened his front door to find his neighbor Chris Walls bleeding from gunshot wounds.  At the hospital. Vicks encountered Titus who had been living with Walls.  Titus wanted to know if Walls had identified the shooter.  Vicks testified at trial that Walls sold drugs out of his  house and that Walls once kicked Titus out of the house for selling bad drugs to someone.  There was no physical evidence to tie Titus to the murder, though.  About two months later an inmate expressed a desire to talk to law enforcement. She claimed to be present in the house when Titus approached Walls as asked to be given some drugs to sell.  Titus sent her out of the room but she heard them argue and then gunshots.  Titus was tried and convicted. On appeal he argues that the evidence was insufficient.  The COA affirms.

Nancy Pigott v. Jeffrey Young Taylor, D.M.D – dental malpractice.statute of limitations –  Pigott filed a medical malpractice suit against Dr. Taylor in June of  2014 alleging that he was negligent when he performed two dental-implant surgeries  on her in 2010.  Afterward she felt pain.  Her final visit to Dr. Taylor was in  August 2011. In 2012 she consulted pain specialist Dr. Thomas Yearwood.   The next year she consulted  Dr. Ronald Prehn who discovered that an implant was impinging on a nerve.  Dr. Taylor moved to dismiss citing the two-year statute of limitations.  The trial court granted the motion and Pigott appealed. The COA affirms. Pigott experienced problems immediately after the surgery and as the trial court found,  “[a]ll medical records submitted establish that . . . Pigott correlates the onset of her injury with the implant procedure.” Whether the  injury is latent or nonlatent, the statute calls for  a reasonable-person standard to determine the running of the statute of limitations in medical-malpractice cases. “The record reflects that Pigott, by exercising reasonable diligence, should have 9 reasonably discovered Dr. Taylor’s alleged negligence following her self-referral to Dr. Yearwood in March 2012.”

Ralph Arnold Smith, Jr. v. State of Mississippi and The District Attorney for the Fourth Circuit Court District of Mississippi – Whitfield commitment/jurisdiction –  Dr. Smith was implicated in a scheme to murder a Delta attorney in 2012.  One of the conspirators was murdered.   The Leflore County Circuit Court determined that Smith was not competent to stand trial and ordered that he should be involuntarily committed to Whitfield.  Smith’s counsel  filed a petition for outpatient treatment in the Rankin County Chancery Court.  However, pursuant to M.C.A. Sect. 41-21-83, hearings regarding persons committed to Whitfield are to be heard in the First Judicial District of the Hinds County Chancery Court.  Rankin County Chancery Court dismissed the  petition for lack of jurisdiction.  Smith appeals. The COA affirms.

Robert Hedrick  v. State of Mississippi –  Lindsey brief – Hedrick was convicted of burglary of a home in Pattison.  He was  sentenced as an habitual offender to  twenty-five years without parole.  His attorney on appeal certified as per Lindsey v. State, 939 So. 2d 743 (Miss. 2005) that he had read the record and could find no issues.  The COA affirms.

Contenna Walker v. DaVita Health Care Partners, Inc., DaVita Kidney Care, and Patricia Thompkins   – wrongful termination/McArn –  Walker  worked as  an RN  for DaVita Health Care.   She alleges that in August 2012, Patricia Thompkins, her supervisor, asked her to refute allegations that Thompkins had improperly disseminated personal information about other DaVita Health Care employees. Walker claims that she refused and was then bullied, humiliated, threatened, and finally fired in October  2012.  In January  2015, she  filed suit alleging negligent and/or intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful termination.  Davita Health filed a motion to dismiss which was granted by the court.   Walker appeals the dismissal of her wrongful termination claim arguing that it should have been allowed to go forward under McArn v. Allied Bruce-Terminix Co., 626 So. 2d 603, 607 (Miss. 1993). The COA disagrees. “In claiming that she was discharged for refusing to refute allegations that Thompkins had improperly disseminated personal information of DaVita Health employees, Walker fails to identify any actionable illegality, and, thus, fails to satisfy the requirements of McArn.”

Steven A. DeLoge v. DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Bill Rasco, In His Official Capacity, and Lent Rice, Director of Internal Affairs, In His Official Capacity –  public records/investigation exemption  – DeLoge is  serving six consecutive life sentences in Wyoming for the sexual abuse of a minor. In  1999, DeLoge was living with Katherine Lowery in Olive Branch, Mississippi. Lowery disappeared and DeLoge left Mississippi with Lowery’s children. He was arrested in 1999 in  Wyoming for sexually abusing Lowery’s eight-year-old daughter.  After DeLoge pleaded guilty, Wyoming sent evidence to the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office to aid in the  investigation of the disappearance of Lowery.  In 2013, DeLoge submitted a public-records request seeking  information abou the evidence sent from Wyoming.   DCSD responded to the  request with an inventory sheet provided to it by the FBI but refused to produce the items because of the investigation.  DeLoge then filed suit in DeSoto County Chancery Court seeking the records claiming they were necessary to his Wyoming appeal. The court inspected the records and determined that they were exempt from public disclosure becaus ethey involved an open investigation. It then  dismissed the complaint  for failure to state a claim. DeLoge appeals. The COA affirms.

Lavern Jeffrey Moran  v. State of Mississippi –  habitual offender – In May 2015, Moran pled guilty to two counts of burglary of a dwelling and was sentenced as an habitual.  Eleven days later he filed a motion for pcr claiming that he did not qualify as an habitual because his prior  felony convictions for robbery and uttering a forgery  were entered on the same day.  The court finds that the the offenses were committed on different days and indicted separately and thus qualify as separately brought as required by statute.

Kelvin Travis, Carolyn Travis, and all Persons or Entities and all Unknown Parties in Interest Claiming an Interest in the Real Property and Improvements Described Herein v. GMAC Mortgage, LLC – land swap – Donald Travis received a parcel of land from his aunt and uncle.  He and his wife contracted with DIMA Homes to build a house on the property.  They signed a promissory note with Homecomings Financial which assigned it to Nationstar.   Around seven years later,  Donald and Joe Ann defaulted on the loan and it went into foreclosure and was acquired by GMAC.  However, a title search revealed the house was located on three parcels, A, B and C and not just A.   Donald’s brother in law Kelvin Travis acquired the deeds to parcels B and C thinking it would help him get a better price on the foreclosed house.  In July 2012 Kelvin and his wife moved in to the house rent free and stayed there rent free thinking he would eventually obtain the deed to parcel A. GMAC filed suit against Kelvin and Carolyn for equitable estopple, unjust enrichment, and ejectment.  GMAC proposed that the Travis’ receive a parcel of land equal to the size of parcels B and C and that GMAC get a parcel with the house on it. The chancellor agreed. The Travis’ appealed. The COA affirms.

Pro se PCR appeal affirmed: 

Andre Conner v.  State of Mississippi

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