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Sturdivant v. Moore Bayou Water Ass'n Inc.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

August 13, 2013

Peggy J. STURDIVANT, Appellant
v.
MOORE BAYOU WATER ASSOCIATION, INC. and Coahoma County, Mississippi, Appellees.

Rehearing Denied Nov. 26, 2013.

Certiorari Denied Jan. 30, 2014.

Page 1153

Lawrence Maynard Magdovitz II, Clarksdale, attorney for appellant.

Roy Jefferson Allen, Gerald H. Jacks, Mary McKay Lasker, Jamie Ferguson Jacks, Cleveland, attorneys for appellees.

Before IRVING, P.J., CARLTON and JAMES, JJ.

JAMES, J.

¶ 1. This appeal involves a complaint against a water supply company and Coahoma County, Mississippi (Coahoma County) following the destruction of a water line to Peggy Sturdivant's property. Sturdivant contests the judgment of the Coahoma County Circuit Court granting summary judgment in favor of Moore Bayou Water Association, Inc. (Moore Bayou) and dismissing all claims against Coahoma County. Sturdivant assigns the following errors: 1) the trial court's grant of summary judgment was improper because genuine issues of material fact existed regarding Sturdivant's membership with Moore Bayou, and 2) Sturdivant's claims against Coahoma County were not properly dismissed because good cause for failure

Page 1154

to timely serve process was shown. Finding no error, we affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶ 2. Moore Bayou is a nonprofit corporation authorized by the Mississippi Public Service Commission to supply water to properties of its members within a specified service area. Some of Moore Bayou's water lines run along Highway 61 in Coahoma County, Mississippi. Sturdivant is the owner of Showtime, Inc., a corporate entity existing under the laws of Mississippi.[1] Sturdivant purchased a building located on the east side of Highway 61, and began operating Showtime from that location. The property purchased by Sturdivant has been generally used for commercial purposes. On October 4, 2005, Showtime entered into a water user's agreement with Moore Bayou, and paid a membership fee and deposit of $135.41. Thereafter, Moore Bayou began supplying water to the property. At some point, Showtime's water account with Moore Bayou became several months delinquent, and had accrued an outstanding balance of $104.46. As a result, Showtime's water services were cut off, and its membership with Moore Bayou was terminated. Moore Bayou issued a check to Showtime in the amount $30.95, which represented the difference between Showtime's deposit and membership fee of $10 and its outstanding balance. The check, dated June 14, 2006, was later negotiated by Sturdivant. On July 5, 2006, the check cleared through Moore Bayou's bank account.

¶ 3. The following year, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), along with Coahoma County, began a highway-expansion project on Highway 61. At a board meeting held on August 14, 2007, Moore Bayou learned that its water lines had been struck several times during the course of the construction, including the water line that previously supplied water to Sturdivant's property on Highway 61. As result of the damage, the water line to Sturdivant's property was irreparable. After meeting with a representative from Evans Engineering to assess the damage, Moore Bayou was informed that a new water line leading to Sturdivant's property would cost $19,688. At that time, Moore Bayou was not providing water services to any property on or near Highway 61. For this reason, Moore Bayou decided not to extend a new water line along Highway 61 due to the great expense. According to Moore Bayou, the total cost for the line, including replacement, construction, labor, and materials, would be approximately $33,204. Pursuant to a mutual agreement, Moore Bayou and Coahoma County each paid a portion of the fee to replace the damaged water lines that serviced other properties.[2] A new line ending approximately 7,000 feet from Highway 61 was installed. As of the time this matter was before the trial court, the water line leading to Sturdivant's property had not been replaced.

¶ 4. In August 2010, Sturdivant contacted Moore Bayou to request water service to her property. Sturdivant claims that she never received notice from Moore Bayou about the termination of her ...


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