December 16, 2014
LANDRESS CHEEKS, CLEOTHA WILLIAMS, L.C. SLAUGHTER, SHONEY HARRIS AND THE CANTON UTILITIES COMMISSION, APPELLANTS
LONDON SMITH, RODRIQUEZ BROWN, ERIC GILKEY, ANDREW GRANT, OLIVIA HARRELL, REUBEN MYERS, LES PENN, DAPHNE SIMS, ARNEL BOLDEN, MAYOR AND BOARD OF ALDERMEN OF THE CITY OF CANTON, MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEES
As Corrected January 13, 2015.
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/04/2013.
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: MADISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. WILLIAM E. CHAPMAN III. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: DISMISSED AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER, PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION, AND PERMANENT INJUNCTION.
FOR APPELLANT: ELLIS TURNAGE.
FOR APPELLEE: KIMBERLY CELESTE BANKS.
BEFORE IRVING, P.J., ROBERTS AND MAXWELL, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, CARLTON, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR.
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - OTHER
¶1. After the Board of Aldermen for the City of Canton, Mississippi, voted to remove four members of the Canton Utilities Commission, the ousted commissioners took two legal actions in the Madison County Circuit Court. They filed a bill of exceptions, which is the statutory procedure to appeal a municipal board's decision (Action 1). And they filed a separate complaint against the city, the board, and the mayor for injunctive relief from the very same board decision they had just appealed (Action 2).
¶2. But the Mississippi Supreme Court has been crystal clear that parties aggrieved by a municipal board's decision cannot go outside the statutory bill-of-exceptions procedure and seek independent injunctive relief. Instead, the bill of exceptions provides the " exclusive remedy."  Following this directive, the circuit court dismissed Action 2--the complaint for injunctive relief--on the pleadings.
¶3. This is the appeal of the dismissal of Action 2 only. This is not an appeal of Action 1, which, to this court's knowledge, is still pending in circuit court. So the only question before us is whether the circuit court properly dismissed Action 2. And on de novo review, we find the circuit court was eminently correct to order dismissal.
¶4. The ex-commissioners cite Cook v. Board of Supervisors of Lowndes County for the proposition that they are entitled to an original action in circuit court because they were denied a meaningful due-process hearing before the board. But Cook dealt with only one action, which the supreme court noted it " could simply treat . . . as an appeal."  Cook did not deal with the scenario of two separate, simultaneously filed actions--(1) an appeal of a board action via a bill of exceptions and (2) an original action for injunctive relief from the same board action. And the supreme court opinions that have dealt with two actions have affirmed the dismissal of the separate action for injunctive relief, based on an " adequate remedy at law" provided by the bill-of-exceptions statute.
¶5. For this reason, we too affirm the circuit court's dismissal of the ex-commissioners' request for injunctive relief in Action 2.
¶6. THE JUDGMENT OF THE MADISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT IS AFFIRMED. ALL COSTS OF THIS APPEAL ARE ASSESSED TO THE APPELLANTS.
LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, CARLTON, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR.