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Way v. Clark

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

January 3, 2017

CURTIS ANTONIO WAY APPELLANT
v.
ROBERT G. CLARK, III, ESQ. APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/10/2014

         HOLMES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. JANNIE M. LEWIS JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: CURTIS ANTONIO WAY (PRO SE)

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: BRYANT WANDRICK CLARK ROBERT GEORGE CLARK III

         EN BANC.

          GRIFFIS, P.J.

         ¶1. Curtis Antonio Way appeals the circuit court's dismissal of his complaint. We find the circuit court properly determined it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction, but erred in dismissing the complaint with prejudice. Thus, we affirm in part and reverse and render in part.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Way and Terria Hall-Mines are the natural parents of three minor children, C.A.W., R.A.W., and T.K.W.[1] Following his release from a Mississippi correctional facility in 2005, Way traveled to Florida. Hall-Mines and the minor children remained in Mississippi. Way claims he remained in contact with Hall-Mines, and they communicated about the development of the children.

         ¶3. In December 2006, Way was arrested in Florida and charged with the murder of his wife or significant other. In January 2007, Way received a letter from Hall-Mines, which referenced the murder charge. According to Way, Hall-Mines testified at his murder trial on behalf of the State of Florida.

         ¶4. At some point prior to March 4, 2008, Hall-Mines and her husband, L.G. Mines, filed a petition in the Chancery Court of Holmes County, Mississippi, to terminate the parental rights of Way and to adopt T.K.W. Robert G. Clark III represented Hall-Mines and Mines in the proceeding. Glen Moore was appointed guardian ad litem.

         ¶5. On March 4, 2008, following a hearing on the petition, the chancery court terminated Way's parental rights and declared the minor child to be adopted by Mines. Way was not present at the hearing. The chancery-court judgment indicates Way was served with process by publication, as Hall-Mines and Mines represented that Way's residence and address were unknown to them after a diligent search and inquiry.

         ¶6. On July 12, 2013, Way filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Holmes County against Moore, Clark, Hall-Mines, and Mines and alleged he was never notified of the petition to terminate his parental rights. Way further alleged Moore, Clark, Hall-Mines, and Mines knew or should have known of his address in Florida and failed to perform a diligent search and inquiry to ascertain the information. Way claimed their "actions or inactions directly prevented him from participating in [his] case, or presenting his claims or defense, " and "[were] tantamount to fraud upon the Court." Way requested a jury trial and a judgment against each defendant in the amount of $100, 000 in compensatory damages and $200, 000 in punitive damages.

         ¶7. The record indicates that Clark, Hall-Mines, and Mines were timely served with process. Moore was never served. Clark filed an answer and defenses to the complaint; however, Hall-Mines and Mines never answered the complaint or entered an appearance. Way filed numerous motions for default judgment against Hall-Mines and Mines, which were denied by ...


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