Before Sullivan, P.j., Banks And Roberts, JJ.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sullivan, Presiding Justice, For The Court:
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 12/22/1997
TRIAL JUDGE: HON. C. E. MORGAN, III
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: WINSTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - STATE BOARDS AND AGENCIES
¶1. On October 6, 1997, the Board of Trustees of the Louisville Municipal School District accepted Taylor Tucker's bid on a five year Hunting and Fishing Lease for 480 acres located in Section 16, Township 16 North, Range 14 East in Winston County, Mississippi.
¶2. On November 10, 1997, Travis L. Prisock, Sr., filed a Complaint in the Circuit Court of Winston County seeking to reverse the school board's decision awarding the hunting and fishing lease to Tucker. This complaint was followed by an Amended Complaint filed on November 14, 1997. These complaints sought damages against the Louisville School District, damages against Dr. Fred Perkins, individually and as Superintendent, an injunction vacating the lease to Tucker and mandating the school execute a lease to Prisock, and alternatively, for an appeal to the circuit court. On November 13, 1997, Prisock dismissed his claim for damages against Perkins.
¶3. On December 10 and 11, 1997, the defendants responded with a Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction claiming Prisock's appeal had not been properly taken pursuant to Mississippi Code Ann. § 11-51-75 (1972). On December 22, 1997, the circuit court granted the defendant's Motion to Dismiss on the basis that Prisock failed to file a bill of exceptions as required by law. The court's Order Sustaining Defendant's Motion to Dismiss was entered on December 24, 1997.
¶4. Prior to the entry of the Order, on December 23, 1997, Prisock filed an Amended Pleading with a request for a bill of exceptions. On January 21, 1998, Prisock filed a Motion to Amend And For Hearing On Motion and Motion to Reconsider. On January 21, 1998, Prisock filed his Notice of Appeal to this Court.
¶5. On February 11, 1992, Louisville Municipal School District delivered to Travis L. Prisock, Sr., a five year Hunting and Fishing Lease for 480 acres located in Section 16, Township 16 North, Range 14 East in Winston County, Mississippi. In consideration of the lease, Prisock agreed to pay an annual rent of $2,942.20 ($6.13 per acre). The parties' agreement provided the lease would expire February 10, 1997.
¶6. In an effort to renew the lease, Prisock submitted a bid of $3.15 per acre in April 1997. On April 23, 1997, the school board voted to reject the bid as too low. In a letter dated April 24, 1997, Perkins, on behalf of the school board, advised Prisock that his bid had been rejected, the lease would be re-advertised, and the land was now closed.
¶7. On September 8, 1997, Perkins wrote Prisock a second letter advising him as follows:
"This letter is in response to your telephone call today concerning a hunting and fishing lease." Section 29-3-41 of the Mississippi Code of 1972, as amended, states the following concerning the rights of the leaseholder and the board of education:
"Provided that the existing holder of said rights, if he shall have made an offer, shall have the final right to extend his lease at an annual rental equal to the said highest offer.
If no bid acceptable to the board of education is received after said advertisement, the board of education may, within ninety (90) days, lease same by private contract for an amount greater than the highest bid previously rejected." (emphasis added).
¶8. Perkins' letter misquoted the law. Section 29-3-41 was amended in 1993 to read in relevant part:
"Provided that if the Board of Education receives an acceptable bid, the most recent holder of said hunting and fishing rights if it shall have made an offer, shall have the final right to extend its lease for the term advertised at the annual rental equal to said highest offer received by the Board ...