Decisions – COA – 1/16/2018

 

Frederick Sandrock, III, Joellen Sandrock and Jason Sandrock v. Cassie Sandrock –  right to insurance proceeds –  in 2005 Jason Sandrock entered into a “mortgage agreement with his father Fred for a house he and his wife Cassie   were building  in Bay St Louis whereby he would pay $300,000 in monthly installments of $1000. When Katrine hit, the house suffered serious damage.  Jason, Fred, and Joellen (Fred’s wife)  were issued (as payees) two checks to reimburse the loss – $148,601.98 in insurance proceeds and $149,327.86 in an MDA grant. Jason gave the bulk of the proceeds to Fred and Joellen.  In 2009, Jason and Joellen divorced and the court ordered that Chancellor Bise concluded that Cassie and Jason would divide equally the proceeds from insurance and grant monies and that Cassie would execute a quitclaim deed for the  property to Jason.  In 2011, Fred and Joeleen sought to foreclose on the home. In February 2012, the chancellor ordered the foreclosure. In 2013 Jason filed a lawsuit asking the court to declare that the  insurance proceeds and grant that were given to  Fred and Joellen were payment on the mortgage agreement and relieving Jason of the requirement to pay  half of those funds to Cassie. The chancellor denied relief. Jason, Fred and Joellen appealed. The COA affirms.

Donte Shepard  v. State of MississippiBatson – Shepard was convicted of capital murder for shooting and killing Tony Brown at a residence on Randall St. in Jackson. A 13-year-old who was passing by at the time of the shooting identified three people running from the house. One of those was Shepard. On appeal, Shepard argues that the conviction was against the wight of the evidence and that he should have been granted a circumstantial evidence instruction.  He also argues that the court erred in refusing to allow a peremptory strike against a white male after the State objected to the strikes of four white men under Batson.  Shepard explained that the juror  “laughed too many times at [the prosecutor’s] jokes and did not like [his] jokes at all.” Further, he had a master’s degree and may not be able to “conceptualize or even give proper context to what’s going on [in Brown’s neighborhood].”  The court found the reasons to be pretextual.  The COA finds no error. Finally, Shepard raises several issues of ineffective assistance. The COA passes on those issue because they are better raised on post conviction.

Eddie Orcutt v. Charles Chambliss, Individually, Jefferson County, Mississippi, Jim Hood, In His Official Capacity as the Attorney General of the State of Mississippi, Alexander C. Martin, In His Official Capacity as the District Attorney for Jefferson County, Mississippi, and any and all other persons known or unknown, claiming or having a legal or equitable interest or assertion of any right, title or claim to the following described property sold for taxes on August 30, 1993: N-Walker, E. Chambliss-Dungan and Chambliss W. Calhoun Parcel No. 0202-26-002 Section 26 Township 10 North-Range 3 East, being twenty (20) acres and recorded in deed book 7T at page 221 on October 3, 1995, in the deed records of Jefferson County, Mississippitax sale –  Eddie Orcutt and Savy Kerageorgiou purchased a 20-acre piece of property at a tax sale in 1993.  The Jefferson County Chancery Clerk issued a tax deed to Orcutt and Kerageorgiou on September 26, 1995. The tax deed indicated the taxes had been assessed to the “Henry Chambliss Estate.” Kerageorgiou later conveyed his interest to Orcutt. In  2014,  Orcutt filed a complaint to quiet and confirm tax title. Charlie Chambliss responded to Orcutt’s complaint, claiming that he never received notice of the tax sale and, alternatively, he acquired the property by adverse possession. The court determined that Chambliss never received notice of the tax sale and thus it was  void but that  neither Chambliss or Orcutt  proved ownership of the land by adverse possession. However, the chancellor did award Orcutt statutory damages of  $5,151.56. Orcutt appealed asserting that (1) the tax sale was not void because Chambliss admitted he did not own the property; (2) he proved adverse possession;  (3) the chancellor erred in calculating the statutory damages; and (4) he should be reimbursed for work performed on the subject property. The COA agrees that the tax sale was void and that Orcutt failed to prove adverse possession. It also upholds the chancellor’s finding that Orcutt was not entitled to improvements. The court did err in determining statutory damages.

 The chancellor erroneously calculated the statutory damages based upon compound interest, and erroneously limited the damages to tax years 1992, 1993, and 1994. As noted above, the statutes do not explicitly authorize compound interest. “The general rule is that ‘when interest is allowable, it is to be computed on a simple rather than compound basis in the absence of express authorization otherwise.’” Exxon Corp. v. Crosby-Miss. Res. Ltd., 40 F.3d 1474, 1489 (5th Cir. 1995) (citing Stovall v. Ill. Cent. Gulf R.R., 722 F.2d 190, 192 (5th Cir. 1984)). Therefore, we reverse and remand in part for the chancellor to recalculate the amount of statutory damages—based upon simple interest—on all of the taxes Orcutt has paid since the tax sale in 1993.

 

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