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Davenport v. Hansaworld, USA, Inc.

Supreme Court of Mississippi

January 19, 2017

KIMBERLEE DAVENPORT
v.
HANSAWORLD, USA, INC.

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 07/13/2015

         FORREST COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. ROBERT B. HELFRICH.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: DANIEL MYERS WAIDE.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: RICHARD MONTAGUE W. THOMAS SILER, JR. JASON THOMAS MARSH.

          BEFORE RANDOLPH, P.J., COLEMAN AND MAXWELL, JJ.

          COLEMAN, JUSTICE.

         ¶1. HansaWorld USA, Inc. (HansaWorld) enrolled a foreign judgment in the Forrest County Circuit Court against Kimberlee Davenport from an award ordered by a court in Florida on claims of conversion and extortion. Davenport, a former employee of HansaWorld, also maintained claims against HansaWorld in a separate action before a federal district court in Mississippi alleging several violations of state and federal law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act for sexual harassment and discrimination (Employment Action).

         ¶2. HansaWorld sought to collect on its foreign judgment by petitioning the circuit court to sell Davenport's Employment Action, so the circuit court entered a Writ of Execution. With the Employment Action set to be auctioned off by the Forrest County sheriff, Davenport filed an Emergency Motion to Quash Writ of Execution mere days before the scheduled sale. At a hearing on the motion, the circuit court granted Davenport's motion to quash on the condition that she post a $100, 000 bond by that afternoon, the day of the scheduled sheriff's sale. Davenport failed to post the conditional bond, and as a result, the sheriff sold her Employment Action to the highest bidder, HansaWorld, for $1, 000. Following sale of her Employment Action, Davenport appealed to the Court.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶3. On January 13, 2015, the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in Miami-Dade, Florida, entered a judgment against Kimberlee Davenport in favor of her former employer HansaWorld USA, Inc., on claims of conversion and extortion. In total, Davenport was ordered to pay HansaWorld $265, 719.45. At the same time as the preceding litigation, Davenport maintained claims against HansaWorld in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi alleging several violations of state and federal law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act for sexual harassment and discrimination (Employment Action). To further collection of the enrolled judgment, HansaWorld petitioned the Forrest County Circuit Clerk to enter a Writ of Execution of Enrolled Judgment, and the circuit clerk issued the writ, notifying the Forrest County sheriff to auction off Davenport's Employment Action in a sheriff's sale.

         ¶4. Before the sheriff's sale could commence, Davenport filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy relief in Texas, which placed an automatic stay on collection by all of her creditors, including HansaWorld. However, Davenport failed to appear at several bankruptcy proceedings, so the court dismissed her claim. Following the dismissal, the circuit clerk entered an Alias Writ of Execution of Enrolled Judgment in a second attempt to auction off Davenport's Employment Action in a sheriff's sale scheduled for July 13, 2015.

         ¶5. On July 7, 2015, Davenport filed an Emergency Motion to Quash Writ of Execution. In her motion to quash, Davenport argued that, due to the nature of the claims she was making, the court should not allow her Employment Action to be sold because doing so would violate her constitutional rights. Davenport also argued that her Title VII claim should not be sold because the statute did not allow it, and the court would be going against public policy by selling a person's civil actions. The circuit court scheduled a hearing on the motion to quash for July 13, 2015, the intended day of the sheriff's sale.

         ¶6. In response to Davenport's Emergency Motion, HansaWorld argued in brief and at the hearing that the employment action was Davenport's property right, not a civil right, so it could be sold at a sheriff's sale. HansaWorld supported its argument by stating that her claims were under Title VII, which confers statutory rights, not constitutional rights. HansaWorld also requested that the circuit court require Davenport to pay a bond if it granted the motion to quash because allowing a stay of the sheriff's sale essentially was a temporary injunction.

         ¶7. At the hearing, the court granted the motion to quash but conditioned the grant on Davenport posting a $100, 000 bond by two o'clock that afternoon or else the sheriff's sale would proceed as scheduled. Davenport's counsel did not object to the conditional bond at the hearing.[1] On the same day, the circuit court issued its Order Granting Emergency Motion to Quash Alias Writ of Execution Conditioned On Posting of $100, 000 Bond and within it stated:

After considering the pleadings and the arguments and representations of counsel, the court finds that the emergency motion to quash the alias writ of execution shall be and hereby is granted, conditioned on the posting ...

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