Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi
Gulfport OB-GYN, P.A. v. Dukes, Dukes, Keating & Faneca, P.A.
Gulfport OB-GYN was a professional association of physicians specializing in obstetrical and gynecological care. In 2008, it hired the law firm Dukes, Dukes, Keating & Faneca, P.A., to assist in negotiating the hiring of Dr. Donielle Daigle and to prepare an employment agreement for her. Five years later, Dr. Daigle and another physician left Gulfport OB-GYN to establish their own practice. They sued Gulfport OB-GYN for unpaid compensation and sought a declaratory judgment that the noncompetition covenant was unenforceable. The departing physicians ultimately prevailed, with the chancery court holding the noncompetition covenant not applicable to Dr. Daigle because she left voluntarily and was not “terminated by the Employer.” The chancery court decision was initially appealed, but the dispute was later settled through mediation when Gulfport OB-GYN agreed to pay Dr. Daigle $425,000. Gulfport OB-GYN then filed this legal-malpractice suit against the attorney who drafted the employment agreement and her firm. The circuit court granted summary judgment to the defendants after finding Gulfport OB-GYN had failed to produce sufficient evidence that it would have received a better deal but for the attorneys’ alleged negligence, i.e., Gulfport OB-GYN failed to prove that the alleged negligence caused it damages. The Mississippi Supreme Court agreed and affirmed. View "Gulfport OB-GYN, P.A. v. Dukes, Dukes, Keating & Faneca, P.A." on Justia Law
Posted in: Business Law, Civil Procedure, Labor & Employment Law, Legal Ethics, Professional Malpractice & Ethics, Supreme Court of Mississippi
Mar-Jac Poultry MS, LLC v. Love
Mar-Jac Poultry MS, LLC (Mar-Jac), appealed the denial of its motion for summary judgment on the Plaintiffs’ claims for negligence, negligence per se, and wrongful death under the theory of respondeat superior after a Mar-Jac employee’s vehicle collided with a school bus on the way to work, killing his two passengers, who were also Mar-Jac employees. Based on the evidence presented, the Mississippi Supreme Court found the trial court erred in denying Mar-Jac’s motion for summary judgment, because it was undisputed that the driver was not acting in the course and scope of his employment with Mar-Jac when the accident occurred. Thus, the Court reversed and entered judgment in favor of Mar-Jac. View "Mar-Jac Poultry MS, LLC v. Love" on Justia Law
Waltman v. Engineering Plus, Inc.
In 2013, Lauderdale County contracted with roofing company Norman Enterprises, Inc. to repair the roof of the Ulmer Building in Meridian, Mississippi. George Waltman, a Norman employee, fell through the roof while performing work. Waltman sued Engineering Plus, Inc., the project engineer, claiming it should have warned him of the dangerous condition of the roof. Engineering Plus moved for summary judgment, arguing it had no duty to warn Waltman. The Circuit Court agreed and granted summary judgment to Engineering Plus. Finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Waltman v. Engineering Plus, Inc." on Justia Law
Webster v. Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks
When Tammy Webster completed her National Guard training, she requested the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) renew her contract as a part-time dispatcher. When MDWFP refused to rehire her, Webster filed a Uniformed Services Employment and Remployment Rights Act (USERRA) claim in state court, successfully proving MDWFP violated her federal statutory right to reemployment. Though the prevailing party, Webster appealed, challenging both her compensation award of one year’s worth of lost part-time wages, and her attorney-fee award. The Mississippi Supreme Court held the trial court did not err in limiting Webster’s compensation to one year of lost wages: Webster had been employed under yearly contracts that were not automatically renewable, and MDWFP was under no statutory obligation to employ her indefinitely. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the remainder of the judgment because: (1) the trial court failed to rule on Webster’s liquidated-damages claim, even though Webster presented evidence MDWFP’s USERRA violation was “willful,” as that term is used in the statute; (2) the trial court arbitrarily assigned $2,800 as a reasonable attorney fee, without considering the time spent by or hourly rate of Webster’s counsel or any other relevant factor; and (3) the trial court taxed Webster her respective court costs, even though USERRA prohibits claimants from being taxed with costs. View "Webster v. Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks" on Justia Law
King v. Mississippi Military Department
In 2016, the Adjutant General of the Mississippi Military Department (Department) terminated Cindy King’s employment with the Department after conducting an investigation into some of King’s activities. King began working for the Department approximately twenty years ago, and her role was that of a supervisor in the Environmental Office at Camp Shelby. However, in late 2015, an officer was tasked with investigating whether King “utilized information garnered through her position as the Camp Shelby Environmental Officer to front run the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program for personal gain” by purchasing a specific piece of property located near Camp Shelby. King denied the claim against her, but after concluding the investigation, the Adjutant General terminated King’s employment with the Department. Aggrieved, King appealed her termination to the Mississippi Employee Appeals Board (Board); however, the Department challenged the Board’s jurisdiction to hear King’s appeal. The chief hearing officer assigned to King’s appeal agreed with the Department and dismissed King’s appeal. King then appealed for full Board review, and the Board affirmed the chief hearing officer’s determination. Next, King appealed to the Forrest County Circuit Court. The circuit court heard arguments and issued an opinion and judgment affirming the Board. Finally, King filed this appeal. The Mississippi Supreme Court held that, while King may be considered a state service employee as defined by the Legislature, the Adjutant General, by virtue of three statutory provisions, was not subject to review by the Board. View "King v. Mississippi Military Department" on Justia Law
Miss. Dept. of Public Safety v. Smith
The dispositive issue before the Mississippi Supreme Court in this matter was whether the Employee Appeals Board properly dismissed the Appellees’ claims for lack of jurisdiction due to the untimely filing of the appeal. After review, the Supreme Court held that it properly dismissed the Appellees’ claims for lack of jurisdiction. "In essence, we simply cannot ignore the gross procedural errors to accord the requested relief. Therefore, we reverse the circuit court’s decision to grant the summary-judgment motion and dismiss the appeal petition because the EAB lacked jurisdiction." View "Miss. Dept. of Public Safety v. Smith" on Justia Law
Davis v. City of Jackson
Plaintiffs John Davis and Shad Denson filed a complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the City of Jackson, Mississippi (“City”). The plaintiffs, both taxicab drivers, sought: (1) a declaratory judgment that the City’s taxicab ordinances violate the Mississippi Constitution; and (2) an injunction to prevent the City from denying the plaintiffs a Certificate of Public Necessity for their failure to comply with the City’s ordinances. The City filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, citing Mississippi Code Section 11-51-75 (Rev. 2012), which required a bill of exceptions to be filed and transferred to circuit court when the complaining party was aggrieved by a discretionary action of a municipal governing authority. The chancery court granted the City’s motion to dismiss, finding it lacked jurisdiction to consider the case. The plaintiffs appealed. The Mississippi Supreme Court found the dismissal for lack of jurisdiction was proper, but for a different reason: plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the constitutionality of the City’s taxi ordinances because they failed to file or complete the required application to start a taxicab company in Jackson. View "Davis v. City of Jackson" on Justia Law
Posted in: Business Law, Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, Labor & Employment Law, Supreme Court of Mississippi
Logan v. Klaussner Furniture Corp.
Bettye Logan sustained a compensable leg injury while employed at Klaussner Furniture Corporation d/b/a Bruce Furniture Industries (“Klaussner”). An Administrative Judge (“AJ”), and the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission (“Commission”), found that Logan had suffered a sixty-percent loss of industrial use to her left lower extremity, which entitled her to 105 weeks of compensation set at $331.06 for her “scheduled-member” injury under Mississippi Code Section 71-3-17(c)(2). Logan appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the Commission and the AJ had applied the incorrect part of Section 71-3-17 and that either subsection (a) or subsection (c)(25) of the statute, and not subsection (c)(2), applied. Klaussner and the American Casualty Company, the carrier, petitioned the Mississippi Supreme Court for review. The Court determined the Commission and the AJ properly awarded Logan permanent-partial disability benefits under Section 71-3-17(c)(2). Accordingly, it reversed the Court of Appeals and reinstated and affirmed the holding of the AJ and Commission. View "Logan v. Klaussner Furniture Corp." on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, Government & Administrative Law, Labor & Employment Law, Personal Injury, Supreme Court of Mississippi
Triplett v. Southern Hens, Inc.
Stacy Triplett filed three lawsuits against her former employer, Southern Hens, all stemming from an incident in which Triplett, while working, witnessed the gruesome death of a coworker. This incident caused Triplett mental anguish leading to an award of workers’ compensation benefits. After Triplett allegedly incurred some trouble in collecting her award of workers’ compensation benefits, she sued Southern Hens and Southern Hens’s carrier, Liberty Mutual. Triplett’s first lawsuit against Southern Hens, for failure to pay, ultimately was dismissed. Triplett then filed a second lawsuit against Southern Hens for failure to report; Triplett failed to serve Southern Hens within 120 days, as required under Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 4(h). With no official court action on her second suit, and admittedly knowing that she could not show good cause for failure to serve in the second suit, Triplett filed a third suit against Southern Hens , like the second, was for failure to report. Aware of the second suit, the circuit court dismissed Triplett’s third suit as an impermissible duplicative suit. Triplett appealed. Finding no error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Triplett v. Southern Hens, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, Insurance Law, Labor & Employment Law, Personal Injury, Supreme Court of Mississippi
Collins v. City of Newton
Several members of the Collins family sued the City of Newton and several of its officials alleging wrongful termination, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, slander, and reckless disregard of property. The plaintiffs are members of a firefighting family. William Donald Collins Sr. is the patriarch of the family; Mary Collins, Donald’s wife, the matriarch. Donald was a volunteer firefighter with the City of Newton Fire Department for more than thirty years. Mary never worked for Fire Department. Donald and Mary have three adult sons, William Donald “Donnie” Collins II, Jay Collins, and Colt Collins. Donnie and Colt were full-time, paid firefighters with the Fire Department in 2012, when the events at issue occurred. Jay also was a full-time, paid, firefighter with the Fire Department. Colt was married to Lisa Collins, who was a volunteer firefighter with the Fire Department in 2012. The Collinses claim that problems began in 2009, when the firefighters voted that Donnie be their chief over the then-current Chief Bounds. The Board of Aldermen ratified the vote, and Mayor David Carr vetoed the ratification. The Board overturned Mayor Carr’s veto. Mayor Carr obtained an ethics opinion regarding Donnie being his brothers’ boss, and the Board then declined to accept Donnie as fire chief. Donnie was made assistant chief and Walter Gordon was hired as chief. After Chief Gordon left, sometime in early 2012, Clarence Parks was hired as chief. On June 20, 2012, Chief Parks distributed a letter to all Fire Department personnel, Mayor Carr, and the Board, declaring every rank, position, and title in the Fire Department vacant, effectively stripping all firefighters of their ranks. Shortly thereafter, Joel Skinner was made interim chief. Skinner was Mary’s brother’s son; thus he was Donald’s and Mary’s nephew and first cousin to Donnie and Colt. Around July 5, 2012, after an argument with Skinner in a meeting, Donald was terminated from the Newton Fire Department. On about July 18, 2012, Donnie and Colt were terminated from the Newton Fire Department, and Lisa was terminated about July 23, 2012. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court denied. After a new judge was assigned to the case, the defendants filed a motion for relief or reconsideration of the denial of summary judgment under Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 60; the trial court granted the Rule 60 relief. The Collinses appealed the trial court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants. Finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Collins v. City of Newton" on Justia Law