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Newton County v. State Ex rel. Dukes

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

March 6, 2014

NEWTON COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI AND RODNEY BOUNDS
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI FOR THE USE AND BENEFIT OF GEORGE DUKES; GEORGE DUKES; AND UNION INSURANCE COMPANY; NEWTON COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI AND RODNEY BOUNDS
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI FOR THE USE AND BENEFIT OF JOE JORDAN; JOE JORDAN; AND UNION INSURANCE COMPANY

COURT fro WHICH APPEALED: NEWTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 09/12/2011. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. FRANK G. VOLLOR.

FOR APPELLANTS: MICHAEL JEFFREY WOLF, CLIFFORD ALLEN McDANIEL, II.

FOR APPELLEES: THOMAS L. TULLOS, RON A. YARBROUGH.

KING, JUSTICE. WALLER, C.J., DICKINSON AND RANDOLPH, P.JJ., LAMAR, KITCHENS, CHANDLER, PIERCE AND COLEMAN, JJ., CONCUR.

OPINION

Page 806

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - OTHER

KING, JUSTICE.

¶1. George Dukes and Joe Jordan sued Union Insurance Company Inc. as surety on the public official bond of Newton County Circuit Clerk Rodney Bounds. Union filed a cross-claim against Bounds for indemnity. The Newton County Circuit Court dismissed the case against Bounds, but found Union liable to Dukes and Jordan. However, it also found Bounds liable to Union for indemnity. Union appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed, finding that Union was not liable to Dukes and Jordan, and that Bounds was not liable to Union for indemnity. We granted Union's petition for certiorari, which argued that the Court of Appeals erred by finding that Bounds was not liable to Union for indemnity for its attorneys fees and costs incurred in defending the lawsuits filed on Bounds's public official bond.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY[1]

¶2. George Dukes and Joe Jordan each obtained judgments against their employers, Roy and Kevin White, under the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Act. The judgments each totaled approximately $135,000. The Whites appealed and posted supersedeas bonds, which their wives signed as the sureties. Rodney Bounds, the Newton County Circuit Clerk, approved the bonds without investigating the Whites' financial ability to satisfy the bonds. The Whites lost their appeal and subsequently filed for bankruptcy, thus Dukes and Jordan were unable to collect on the supersedeas bonds.[2] Dukes and Jordan then sued Bounds, Newton County, and Union Insurance Company Inc., the surety on Bounds's public-official bond.

¶3. Union filed a cross-claim against Bounds, alleging that, under the terms of

Page 807

Bounds's public official bond application, " Bounds agreed to indemnify and save Union harmless from and against every claim, demand, liability, loss, fees, charge, expense, suit, order, judgment, and adjudication whatsoever, including counsel fees, and from any and all liability therefor sustained or incurred as a consequence of having executed bonds for and on behalf of Bounds." [3] It alleged that, in reliance on the bond application, Union issued a public official bond on Bounds's behalf. Union claimed that Union was required to engage legal counsel to protect its interests, due to the ...


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