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In re Estate of White

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

March 25, 2014

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF CHARLES WILLIAM WHITE, DECEASED:
v.
CHARLES THOMAS WHITE, APPELLEE ANITA WHITE, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF CHARLES WILLIAM WHITE, APPELLANT

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/23/2011.

Page 343

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: DESOTO COUNTY CHANCERY COURT. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. PERCY L. LYNCHARD JR. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: GRANTED APPELLEE'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENIED APPELLANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT.

FOR APPELLANT: JOHN THOMAS LAMAR III, H.R. GARNER, JOHN THOMAS LAMAR JR.

FOR APPELLEE: ROBERT R. MORRIS, ROBERT RYAN REVERE.

BEFORE IRVING, P.J., ROBERTS AND JAMES, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., ISHEE, CARLTON, MAXWELL, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR. BARNES, J., NOT PARTICIPATING.

OPINION

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - WILLS, TRUSTS, AND ESTATES

Page 344

ROBERTS, J.

¶1. Anita White sued her stepson, Charles Thomas White (Tommy), and claimed that the DeSoto County Chancery Court should set aside two quitclaim deeds, so the properties they described could pass through the estate of Tommy's father, Charles William White (Bill). To memorialize an earlier partnership-dissolution agreement, Tommy had used his authority under a power of attorney to transfer title to the properties from Bill to himself. Anita sought to set those quitclaim deeds aside, so they could pass to her under the residuary clause of Bill's will. Anita had raised the same claim in an earlier consolidated complaint, but she neglected to obtain a ruling on her claim. Consequently, the chancellor found that the doctrine of res judicata applied, and granted Tommy's motion for summary judgment. Anita appeals. She claims the chancellor erred when he granted Tommy's motion for summary judgment. According to Anita, res judicata does not apply under the circumstances. Anita also claims that the chancellor should have granted her own motion for summary judgment. Finding no error, we affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2. This appeal centers on a family business that began with Bill, who was born on September 3, 1925. In 1945, Bill was discharged from the United States Navy. He began working for a petroleum-distribution business. In the time that followed, Bill married Jeannette Humphreys White. They had four children, including Tommy, who was born on June 12, 1946. In 1950, Bill went into business for himself. Two years later, Bill built his first " service station" in Water Valley, Mississippi.

¶3. Tommy began working for his father at a young age. According to Tommy, he prepared his first sales-tax return when he was ten years old. Approximately fifty years ago, Bill formed the C.W. White Partnership with Tommy. The purpose of the partnership was to buy real property to " enhance the sale of petroleum products." In 1972, the partnership bought its first of many parcels of real property. The partnership built a convenience store on that property. Over time, the partnership acquired additional properties in Water Valley, Charleston, and Batesville, Mississippi. The partnership established additional convenience stores on those properties. In 1977, Bill and Tommy formed C.W. White Incorporated.[1] The corporation bought what Tommy described as a " bulk plant" in Sardis, Mississippi. Tommy's brother, John White, became involved with the corporation after he was discharged from the United States Navy. Having earned a degree in accounting from the University of Mississippi, Tommy worked out of the corporation's headquarters in Water Valley, while John assumed " the logistical day-to-day transportation operation of running the trucks" out of the bulk plant at Sardis. Tommy's sisters, Rebecca and Virginia, were likewise involved with what Tommy described as " the family business." Although Bill " retired" to some extent during 1991, he remained involved in the businesses by acting as a consultant.

¶4. In September 1997, Bill's wife, Jeannette, died. The next month, Bill

Page 345

spontaneously gave Tommy a document conveying a general power of attorney in the event that Tommy ever needed to handle any of Bill's affairs. ...


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