Decisions – MSSC – 5/31/18


Central Insurers of Grenada, Inc. v. William Greenwood d/b/a Antique Wood Company of Mississippi –  service of process  on domestic insurance company- William Greenwood, the owner of Antique Wood of Mississippi, filed suit against Central and three other defendants for breach of contract, etc., based on Central’s failure to provide coverage under a commercial liability policy.   Central is a Mississippi corporation licensed by the Mississippi Insurance Commissioner to operate as an “insurance producer.” Instead of serving Central via its registered agent for service, Greenwood served a copy of the complaint and summons on an employee of the Mississippi Commissioner of Insurance. The Commissioner’s legal process clerk then forwarded a copy of the complaint and summons, along with a notification letter, to Central via certified mail.  Central filed a motion to dismiss for insufficient service of process. The trial court denied the motion and Central filed an interlocutory appeal which the Court granted.  It reverses. The provision whereby the Insurance Commissioner can be served applies to  “insurers not authorized to do business in this state.” MCA  § 83-21-35. “Because Section 83-21-37 does not apply to Central, a domestic corporation authorized to do business in this state, we find that the trial court erred in finding that Greenwood properly effectuated service of process on Central by ‘service of the summons and complaint upon the Commissioner of Insurance pursuant to Section 83-21-37.'”

April Horton, as Administrator and on Behalf of the Estate of Emmanuel Erves, and Wrongful Death Beneficiaries of Emmanuel Erves v. City of Vicksburg –  Tort Claims Act/building codes – Malcolm Carson owned a home in Vicksburg that he rented out as a rooming house. Emmanuel Erves and Caleb Erves were both boarders. On February 24, 2014, Emmanuel  either fell down the exterior stairs or was pushed by Caleb  and died from his injuries. The stairs – nine in total – were in  disrepair and there was no top landing at the entrance.  Horton sued the owners of the rooming house and, after some discovery, amended the complaint to add the City of Vicksburg  for negligent inspection, negligent assignment, hiring and retention of employee Benjie Thomas.  Vicksburg moved for summary judgment arguing that it was entitled to discretionary function immunity because code enforcement is a discretionary function based on the historic building provision of the relevant building code. The trial court granted the motion and Horton petitioned for an interlocutory appeal which was granted. On appeal, the MSSC affirms finding that Horton has failed to establish that the City owed a duty.  “Under Section 102.6 of the City code, Vicksburg and its officials are not required to enforce the handrail requirement under Section 307.1 on those structures ‘designated as historic buildings when such buildings or structures are judged by the code official to be safe and in the public interest of health, safety, and welfare.’”

Darius Parnell Haynes  v. State of Mississippi –  possession of cocaine – Haynes was convicted of  possession of cocaine while in possession of a firearm and possession of a weapon by a felon. He was arrested after he got into a fight with  Kimmeisha Harris. Harris went to the hospital and while there spoke to an investigator.  She told him that she thought she had seen Haynes with a gun and that Haynes had threatened to shoot her.   Investigator Fountain spotted the car Haynes was in at a gas station.  One man was  standing outside the car,  pumping gas. Haynes was sitting in the passenger seat.  Fountain approached the vehicle and noticed a small plastic bag containing a white substance,  0.34 grams of cocaine, in plain view in the ashtray between the driver and passenger seats.   Fountain asked Haynes “if he knew why he was making contact with him” and Haynes replied it was probably because of a little incident he had just had.  Brown allowed Fountain to search the car and he found a gun in the glove box.  At trial  Brown testified that the gun in the glove box belonged to Haynes and was the same gun from the incident at the friend’s house. On appeal Haynes challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. The MSSC affirms.

The Court amends M.R.C.P. 54 to requires judges who summarily dismiss post conviction relief motions to identify the documents on which they relied. The additional language is set forth here:

 (c) Judgment Summarily Dismissing a Motion for Post-Conviction Collateral
Relief. When a court summarily dismisses a motion for post-conviction collateral relief under section 99-39-11(2) of the Mississippi Code, the order must identify the files, records, transcripts, and correspondence the court relied on and direct that certified copies of those documents be placed in the motion cause number’s file.



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