Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – Sept. 28, 2017

City of Meridian, Mississippi d/b/a East Mississippi Drug Task Force v. $104,960.00 U.S. Currency, and a 2003 Ford F-150 Supercab Truck, VIN #1FTRX17213NB65899 and Maria I. Valle Catalanforfeiture/notice when converting a motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment –    In June  2012, Catalan was pulled over for “tired” driving. A consensual search revealed $104,690 hidden in one of the truck’s compartments.  No contraband or drugs were found in the truck and  Catalan was not  charged with any criminal offense or even a traffic ticket. The City filed a petition for forfeiture requesting the forfeiture of Catalan’s truck and the $104,690. Catalan filed an answer and a request for production. She eventually filed a  motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) which the trial court granted. The City appeals.  The COA affirms. The City filed for cert which was granted.  The Miss.S.Ct. reverses and remands finding that the forfeiture petition satisfied the notice pleading requirements of Rule 8 of the MRCP.  And that in granting the motion, the lower court considered materials outside the pleadings.  “In doing so, the county court in effect converted the Rule 12(b)(6) and/or 12(c) motion into a motion for summary judgment, as provided in Rule 56 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 56(c) of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure requires at least ten days’ notice to both parties that the court is converting the motion, which did not occur in this instance.”

Paula Hathorn v. Louisville Utilities Commissionpremises liability/tort claims act/subsidiary of city – Paula Hathorn stepped into a sunken utility box set into a sidewalk in front of O’Reilly’s Auto Parts in Louisville.  She then sued O’Reilly’s, Louiseville and the Louiseville Utilities Commission.  She ended up settling with O’Reilly Auto Parts and the City and dismissed them.   The Utilities Commission then moved for and was granted  summary judgment on the grounds that  the Commission is a subsidiary of the City and according to the settlement agreement,  Hathorn had released all claims against the City and its subsidiaries.  Hathorn appealed. The Miss.S.Ct. affirms.

The Court grants cert. in Kent Holifield and Laurie Holifield v. City Salvage, Inc.  (the link is to the COA opinion)  innocent seller defense –  The Holifieds filed suit against City Salvage alleging that it sold then  defective Chinese drywall that was used in the construction of their home. The circuit court granted summary judgment for City Salvage based on the  “innocent seller” provision of the Mississippi Products Liability Act,  M.C.A.  § 11-1-63(h).  The COA affirmed.  The Holifieds filed a cert. petition which was granted.

They argue that the  MPLA “does not abrogate a statutory cause of action for breach of
implied warranty as grounds for recovery.”  They also argue that a  seller that presumptively commits fraud in the transaction is not  entitled to use the innocent seller provisions of the MPLA.

Holifield cert petition

The Court dismisses the cert petition previously granted in Mississippi Valley Silica Company, Inc. v. Dorothy Barnett, Individually and as Wrongful Death Beneficiary of Howard Barnett, Deceased, and on Behalf of All Wrongful Death Beneficiaries of Howard Barnett, Deceased finding that it was improvidently granted.



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