COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HUMPHREYS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/22/2014. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JANNIE M. LEWIS. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: RULED IN FAVOR OF APPELLEE IN FINDING A LEGALLY BINDING AND ENFORCEABLE CONTRACT EXISTED BETWEEN THE PARTIES AND APPELLEE.
FOR APPELLANT: WILLIE GRIFFIN.
FOR APPELLEE: PRECIOUS T. MARTIN SR., CRYSTAL WISE MARTIN, SUZANNE KEYS.
BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., ISHEE AND MAXWELL, JJ. LEE, C.J., GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES, MAXWELL, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR. CARLTON, J., CONCURS IN RESULT ONLY. IRVING, P.J., AND WILSON, J., NOT PARTICIPATING.
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - CONTRACT
[¶1] In December 2006, at the end of her five-year contract with Humphreys County Memorial Hospital, Debra Griffin submitted her letter of resignation to the hospital board. After some discussion at the board meeting, the minutes reflect that the board requested that Griffin remain in her position as hospital administrator for another year so that the hospital could seek a suitable replacement. She agreed. Shortly thereafter, the board reconvened and terminated Griffin. Griffin filed suit in the Humphreys County Circuit Court seeking severance payment pursuant to her contract. After a bench trial, the circuit court ruled in favor of Griffin. The hospital now appeals. Finding no error, we affirm.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
[¶2] On January 1, 2002, the board and Griffin entered into a five-year contract to employ Griffin as the hospital administrator. Over the next few years, Griffin came under scrutiny, in part for failure to pay the hospital's taxes but also for other financial problems suffered by the hospital. During that time, the board's attorney passed away and several board members were replaced.
[¶3] In November 2006, Griffin submitted her letter of resignation to the board at a board meeting. The board offered to " extend the contract" for another year if Griffin would agree to remain in her position until a replacement could be found to begin work in January 2008. Griffin
agreed and withdrew her letter of resignation.
[¶4] Since the board was without an attorney, the board's then-chairperson asked Griffin to draft another contract to mirror her 2002 contract with the exception of the length of her employment. Griffin drew up the contract, but quietly made several changes including the addition of a provision dealing with venue and the deletion of a provision allowing for termination for immoral conduct. One provision that was not altered from the 2002 contract related to severance pay. Pursuant to the provision, Griffin was entitled to severance pay unless she was terminated for the conviction of a felony, she died, or she resigned. The board's then-chairperson signed ...