Decisions – MSSC -8/16/2018

Hand down list 

In the Matter of C. W.: The Mississippi Department of Mental Health and State of Mississippi v. Lamar County, Mississippicivil commitment – In 2017, two people, R.M. and C.W., were committed to the South Mississippi State Hospital to be treated for mental illness. Both a medical doctor and psychologist recommended that they receive treatment for a mental illness.  Upon receipt of the orders of commitment, SMSH’s Facility Director Sabrina Young denied admission to both patients. She sent a letter to the Lamar County Chancery Clerk that SMSH’s clinical physician had determined that they needed  treatment for drug and alcohol issues, not treatment for mental illness.   SMSH was not equipped to deal with addiction.  The Circuit Court issues a show cause order   directing Young to show  “why she should not be held in contempt of court for her refusal to abide by the orders of commitment. The order also directed the Attorney General to show cause why the statute relied on by Young—Section 41-21-77—should not be declared unconstitutional to the extent that it allowed the facility director to refuse to provide medical treatment to R.M. and C.W. based on the unavailability of facilities or services.”  The Court  sanctioned Young $1,400. It also went on to find that if the finding of contempt was not upheld on review, and if Section 41-21-77 indeed allowed the director of a state hospital to overrule an order of commitment, the statute would be unconstitutional pursuant to Section 86 of the Mississippi Constitution (requiring the Legislature to provide care and treatment for the mentally ill).  On appeal the MSSC holds that MCA  Sect.  41-21-77 does not allow a director of a state hospital independently to override a commitment order of a chancery court for treatment of mental illness. It does not.  The Court declines to address the constitutionality of the statute. It reverses the contempt finding that it was criminal in nature and therefore Young was required to get a summons and, furthermore, the trial judge would have had to recuse himself from the hearing.

Kathryn Schroeder Clark, with Power of Attorney for Helen Schroeder v. Lisa Younger Neese, Administratrix of the Estate of Harry L. Schroeder, Deceased –   car wreck/ after settlement with one the car that hit them, wife sues deceased husband for his negligence – Harry Schroeder had just pulled onto the highway when his car was hit by a log truck killing him. His wife Helen suffered serious injuries and filed suit against the log truck owner both for herself and as a wrongful death beneficiary.  She ended up settling the case. She then sued Harry’s estate  based on his failure to yield the right-of-way. Harry moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the characterization of how the accident happened was at odds with how Helen characterized it in the later suit – judicial estoppel.  The circuit court agreed. On appeal the MSSC reversed. Clark v. Neese (“Clark I”), 131 So. 3d 556, 558 (Miss. 2013). On remand, Harry again moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted on the basis of res judicata, accord and satisfaction, and contractual release. The trial court granted summary judgment again.  The MSSC again reverses finding that res judicata did not apply because Harry was not in privity with the previous defendants. Nor did Helen’s settlement of the first case release Harry.

Hemphill Construction Company, Inc. v. City of Clarksdale, Mississippi –   government contract bid – “The City of Clarksdale (“City”) solicited sealed bids for a public construction project. The City received sealed bids from Landmark Construction Company, GCI (“Landmark”), and Hemphill Construction Company, Inc. (“Hemphill”). When unsealed, both bids exceeded the project’s allocated funds by more than ten percent. Rather than rebidding the contract, the City conditionally awarded a contract to Landmark, dependent upon the City’s obtaining additional public funds to match Landmark’s bid. The City’s actions were not provided for in the public bidding laws. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Coahoma County Circuit Court and remand the case to the trial court.


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