Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi

by
In this auditing malpractice case, Thomas L. Wallace and T.L. Wallace Construction, Inc. appealed the Circuit Court's grant of summary judgment to McArthur, Thames, Slay, and Dews, PLLC (“McArthur Thames”) for lack of causation. Wallace filed suit against McArthur Thames, alleging that the accounting firm had negligently audited the financial statements of Wallace Construction and ultimately had caused the destruction of the company by failing to discover hundreds of personal credit card purchases by certain company employees, failing to discover transactions involving hundred of thousands of dollars spent by Wallace Construction to pay for personal home improvements of nonshareholder employees, and by failing to discover inappropriate accounting practices that resulted in an overstatement of income. Wallace sought to recover damages of approximately $14,000,000 allegedly suffered by him as a result of accounting work done by McArthur Thames. The trial court excluded the testimony of Wallace Construction’s sole expert on causation, finding that his opinion was unreliable and insufficient to establish proximate cause. Because the trial court mistakenly believed that expert testimony establishing causation was required in all malpractice cases, and because Wallace Construction presented sufficient lay testimony to overcome summary judgment on the issue of causation, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded the case the trial court for further proceedings. In addition, the Supreme Court found the trial court abused its discretion in disallowing reasonable access to the financial information of Wallace Construction subsequent to June 30, 2012, and in its denial of discovery of the Wallaces’ personal accounts. View "T.L. Wallace Construction, Inc. v. McArthur, Thames, Slay, and Dews, PLLC" on Justia Law

by
Rita McIntosh appealed a circuit court’s judgment affirming the Mississippi Real Estate Commission’s disciplinary order against her, finding that McIntosh had engaged in “improper dealing.” According to the order, McIntosh, as exclusive agent of the seller, interjected herself into the lender’s appraiser selection process and then tried to keep the selected appraiser from completing the appraisal assignment. The Commission imposed a ninety-day suspension, plus a thirty-day suspension held in abeyance, along with eight months’ probation and continuing education courses. Because the Mississippi Supreme Court found McIntosh’s alleged conduct did not constitute improper dealing as contemplated by the Mississippi Real Estate Brokers License Act, it reversed rendered judgment in favor of McIntosh. View "McIntosh v. Mississippi Real Estate Comm'n" on Justia Law

by
Dr. Andy Barlow was disciplined by the Mississippi State Board of Chiropractic Examiners for advertising in violation of the statutes governing chiropractors. The complaint alleged that Dr. Barlow advertised using professional designations other than “chiropractor,” “doctor of chiropractic,” “D.C.,” or “chiropractic physician”; Dr. Barlow advertised as D.C., and also as DACNB, FACFN, and as a “Chiropractic Neurologist.” The Board levied a monetary penalty plus the costs of his prosecution. The circuit court affirmed the Board, and Dr. Barlow appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court, alleging that the statute governing chiropractic advertising had been implicitly amended or repealed, that the statute governing chiropractic advertising violated his First Amendment rights, and that the Board was without authority to assess the costs of the investigation to him. Furthermore, he argued the circuit court erred by failing to afford him a “de novo appeal.” Because Dr. Barlow’s arguments on whether he should be disciplined lack merit, the Court affirmed the judgments of the Board and circuit court on those issues. However, because the Board lacked authority to directly assess Dr. Barlow the costs of its investigation, the Court reversed on the issue of costs. View "Barlow v. Miss.State Bd. of Chiropractic Examiners" on Justia Law

by
The Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance charged Montgomery County Justice Court Judge Keith Roberts with misconduct for failing to follow the law in a case before him. Because the Supreme Court found that Judge Roberts committed judicial misconduct, and agreed that the recommended sanctions were appropriate, the Court ordered that Judge Roberts be publicly reprimanded, fined $3,000, and taxed with the costs of these proceedings. View "Miss. Com'm on Judicial Performance v. Roberts" on Justia Law

by
The Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance filed a Formal Complaint charging Charles Vess, Justice Court Judge, South District, Adams County, with willful misconduct in office and conduct prejudicial to the administration ofjustice which brings the judicial office into disrepute in violation of Section 177A of the Mississippi Constitution. The Commission and Judge entered into a Stipulation of Agreed Facts and Proposed Recommendation, which was accepted unanimously by the Commission, providing that Judge had violated Canons 1, 2(A), 3(B)(2), 3(B)(4), and 3(B)(5) of the Code of Judicial Conduct and Section 177A of the Mississippi Constitution, and recommending that he be publicly reprimanded, suspended from office without pay for a period of thirty days, fined $1,100, and assessed costs of $200. After conducting a mandated review of the Commission’s recommendation consistent with Section 177A of Article 6 of the Mississippi Constitution, Rule 10 of the Rules of the Commission on Judicial Performance, Rule 10 of the Mississippi Rules of Appellate Procedure, and Mississippi caselaw, the Mississippi Supreme Court adopted the recommendation of the Commission and ordered that Judge be publicly reprimanded, suspended from office without pay for a period of thirty days, fined in the amount of $1,100, and assessed the costs of this proceeding in the amount of $200. View "Miss. Com'm on Judicial Performance v. Vess" on Justia Law

by
The Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance recommended to the Mississippi Supreme Court that former Madison County Justice Court Judge William “Bill” Weisenberger Sr. be removed from office after finding by clear and convincing evidence that Weisenberger physically and verbally assaulted a mentally disabled individual at the 2014 Canton Flea Market. Because of the egregious nature of Weisenberger’s actions, the Supreme Court agreed with the Commission’s recommendation and removed Weisenberger from office. Weisenberger was directed to pay a fine in the amount of $1,000 and costs of these proceedings in the amount of $5,918.46. View "Mississippi Comm'n on Judicial Perf. v. Weisenberger" on Justia Law

by
On August 26, 2015, the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance found that former Municipal Court Judge Latisha Nicole Clinkscales had engaged in judicial misconduct constituting willful misconduct in office and conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice which brings the judicial office into disrepute, in violation of Section 177A of the Mississippi Constitution. Clinkscales served as Municipal Court Judge for the City of Columbus from 2010 until her resignation on June 23, 2015. While serving as a Municipal Court Judge, she also served as the Columbus Drug Court Judge until her resignation on February 6, 2014, following a meeting with the Administrative Office of Courts concerning irregularities in her operation of the Drug Court program. The misconduct to which Clinkscales admitted involves four separate areas: her statements on social media, her operation of the Columbus Drug Court program, her statements in a newspaper interview, and her conduct in the courtroom. The Commission entered a recommendation that Clinkscales be publicly reprimanded and assessed costs of the proceeding, and the Commission and Clinkscales filed a joint motion requesting the Supreme Court to approve the Commission’s recommendation. The Supreme Court accepted the recommendation, imposed a public reprimand and assessed Clinkscales the costs of the proceeding. View "Mississippi Comm'n on Jud. Perf. v. Clinkscales" on Justia Law

by
The Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance issued a Formal Complaint against Chancellor David Shoemake, alleging judicial misconduct. The Complaint contained allegations that Judge Shoemake had contributed to the mismanagement of the conservatorship of Victoria Denise Newsome. After a formal hearing on March 12, 2015, the Commission recommended to the Supreme Court that Judge Shoemake be removed from office, fined $2,500, and assessed costs in the amount of $5,882.67. Judge Shoemake disputes the Commission’s findings and recommendation. After review, the Supreme Court held that Judge Shoemake improperly signed ex parte orders and contributed to the mismanagement of a ward’s estate. However, the Commission did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that Shoemake gave testimony that he knew or should have known would be misleading. The Court ordered that Judge Shoemake be publicly reprimanded, be suspended from office for thirty days without pay, pay a fine of $2,500, and pay costs in the amount of $5,882.67. View "Mississippi Comm'n on Judicial Performance v. Shoemake" on Justia Law

by
Bobby Gibson filed a legal-malpractice action against Joe Montgomery and his law firm, Williams, Williams and Montgomery, P.A. (“WWM”), alleging wrongful conduct in connection with the administration of his late wife Debbie's estate. The trial court granted summary judgment to Montgomery and WWM. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded. Bobby timely filed his Notice of Appeal and raised four issues: 1) whether the doctrines of res judicata or collateral estoppel barred his claims, 2) whether judicial estoppel precluded his malpractice action, 3) whether the thirty-day period provided in Section 11-1-39 required dismissal, and 4) whether there remains a genuine issue of material fact as to the elements of his legal-malpractice and fiduciary-duty claims. After review, the Supreme Court concluded: Bobby's claims were not precluded by the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel; judicial estoppel did not preclude Bobby's legal-malpractice action; there was no merit to Montgomery's Section 11-1-39 argument; and there remained a genuine issue of material fact as to whether an attorney-client relationship existed. View "Gibson v. Williams, Williams & Montgomery, P.A." on Justia Law

by
In January 2003, Christopher Lyas died while receiving treatment at Pine Grove Behavioral Health Center, a subsidiary of Forrest General Hospital. Shortly after Christopher’s death, his widow, Madra Lyas was visited by an employee of the Forrest County Coroner’s Office who provided her a provisional Certificate of Death which listed the immediate cause of death as “pending” and a provisional autopsy report which listed the cause and manner of Christopher’s death as “pending toxicology,” but contained pathological diagnoses of “Hypertensive Heart Disease” and “Morbid Obesity.” The employee informed Madra that Christopher probably had died of a heart attack. Seven years later, after meeting in person with the Forrest County Coroner, Madra was given Christopher’s final Certificate of Death, which professed “[c]hanges consistent with meprobamate and carisoprodol overdose” as the immediate cause of Christopher’s death. She then filed suit against Pine Grove and Forrest General Hospital, alleging that Pine Grove had caused Christopher’s death negligently by means of a prescription drug overdose. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Forrest General and Pine Grove, holding that Madra had not filed suit within the one-year statute of limitations pursuant to the Mississippi Tort Claims Act. Madra appealed, arguing that the discovery rule tolled the applicable statute of limitations. Because Madra has produced evidence of her reasonable diligence during the statutory period, the Supreme Court found that a genuine issue of material fact existed on the issue of whether the statute of limitations was tolled. The Court therefore reversed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Forrest General and remand this case for a trial on the merits. View "Lyas v. Forrest General Hospital" on Justia Law