Oral arg. – COA – 1/30/18

At 10:00 the Miss.S.Ct. will hear the case of Earnest T. Jones v. Miss. Institutions of Higher Learning

In 2007 Jones accepted the position of head football coach at Alcorn with a four year contract at $140,000 per year.  He immediately encountered problems.  When all but two of his assistant coaches were fired over his objection, Jones filed suit in December 2008. Alcorn then fired him. The jury returned a verdict of $500,000.00 in favor of Jones.  The circuit court granted the Defendant’s motion for jnov finding that Jones failed to present legally sufficient evidence that the defendants breached the contract. Jones appealed.

He raises three issues:

1.Whether the trial court improperly substituted its judgment for that of the jury in
finding that IHL had not breached its contract.
2. Whether an amendment to seek damages for wrongful termination should be
permitted when the complaint had sought to prohibit Defendants from terminating
Jones’ contract.
3. Whether the filing of a notice of claim under the Mississippi Tort Claims Act is
necessary in a suit alleging malice by an individual defendant.

IHL cross appealed. It argues that Jones admitted he was not suing for wrongful termination and that a week after the assistants were told that their contracts would not be renewed, their were told their contracts were renewed.  In December 2008, Jones was told that he was being recommended for termination.  He filed for an administrative review and the Committee recommended termination of Jones’ employment  for having improperly opened a personal bank account in his own name and deposited University funds into the account without proper authority to do so and without following proper procedures.  The president of Alcorn agreed and terminated his employment. Jones then filed a petition for cert. in the circuit court and a wrongful termination suit in federal court. The Circuit Court of Claiborne County dismissed Jones’s appeal because he
had failed to present sufficient evidence that ASU’s decision to terminate his employment should have been overturned under the “highly deferential” standard required by Mississippi law.  The Mississippi Court of Appeals affirmed. The federal court  dismissed all of Jones’s  on jurisdictional grounds pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment.

Earnest T. Jones’ brief

IHL’s brief

Jones’ reply brief

Jones’ reply to the cross appeal

Watch the argument here

 

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