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Gulfport Partners V, L.P. v. Harrison County Board of Supervisors

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

May 23, 2017

GULFPORT PARTNERS V, L.P., GULFPORT PARTNERS VI, L.P., GULFPORT PARTNERS VII, L.P., GULFPORT PARTNERS VIII, L.P., AND GULFPORT PARTNERS IX, L.P. APPELLANTS
v.
HARRISON COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS AND TAL FLURRY, TAX ASSESSOR FOR HARRISON COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI APPELLEES BELLEMONT GARDENS, L.P., AND BILOXI GATES, L.P. APPELLANTS
v.
HARRISON COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS AND TAL FLURRY, TAX ASSESSOR FOR HARRISON COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI APPELLEES D'IBERVILLE PARTNERS, L.P., WOOLMARKET PARTNERS, L.P., AND WOOLMARKET PARTNERS II, L.P. APPELLANTS
v.
HARRISON COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS AND TAL FLURRY, TAX ASSESSOR FOR HARRISON COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI APPELLEES D'IBERVILLE PARTNERS, L.P., WOOLMARKET PARTNERS, L.P., AND WOOLMARKET PARTNERS II, L.P. APPELLANTS
v.
HARRISON COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS AND TAL FLURRY, TAX ASSESSOR FOR HARRISON COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 12/18/2015

         HARRISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST, SECOND JUDICIAL DISTRICT, HON. CHRISTOPHER LOUIS SCHMIDT.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS: JOHN G. CORLEW KATHY K. SMITH LYNN CHAIN WALL.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: TIM C. HOLLEMAN PATRICK TAYLOR GUILD.

          BEFORE LEE, C.J., BARNES AND GREENLEE, JJ.

          LEE, C.J.

         ¶1. This appeal arises from four consolidated cases: 2016-CA-00062-COA, 2016-CA-00087-COA, 2016-CA-00090-COA, and 2016-CA-00091-COA.[1] In this appeal we must decide whether the circuit court erred when it denied Gulfport Partners L.P.'s motion for (1) the cost of bond premiums required by statute to perfect the appeal and (2) prejudgment interest on the liquidated amount of tax in dispute required to be paid by the statute. Gulfport Partners now appeals the circuit court's denial of its motion.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Gulfport Partners appealed its 2011 ad valorem county tax assessment, as assessed by the Harrison County Tax Collector and approved by the Harrison County Board of Supervisors (Board), to the Harrison County Circuit Court. While the case was pending in the circuit court, the Mississippi Supreme Court handed down its decision in Willow Bend Estates LLC v. Humphreys County Board of Supervisors, 166 So.3d 494 (Miss. 2013), which interpreted the statute governing the determination of the true value of affordable rental housing for purposes of ad valorem taxation. In accordance with the supreme court's decision in Willow Bend, all of the parties in the consolidated cases agreed on the amount of the assessment for each property. Accordingly, an agreed final judgment was entered directing the Harrison County Tax Collector to determine the taxes owed based upon the true and assessed values in accordance with the supreme court's ruling in Willow Bend and to refund any amounts due to Gulfport Partners based upon the assessment. The agreed order stated "that the court retain[ed] jurisdiction to consider costs and/or interest, if any."

         ¶3. Gulfport Partners then filed a "motion to tax costs and prejudgment interest." The costs requested in the motion included the costs of the bond premiums required to appeal the ad valorem tax assessment and prejudgment interest from the date of overpayment of taxes until the date of the refund. Gulfport Partners cited Mississippi Rule of Appellate Procedure 36(c), which provides that costs include "the premiums paid for cost of supersedeas bonds or other bonds to preserve rights pending appeal." The Board argues, and the trial court found, that the Mississippi Rules of Appellate Procedure did not apply to cases before the circuit court. The circuit court denied Gulfport Partners' motion, holding that there was no statutory authority for the recovery of bond premiums as costs. The court also denied Gulfport Partners' request for prejudgment interest, noting that it failed to make demand for it in its pleadings or cite to any statutory authority allowing for its award. Gulfport Partners appeals the circuit court's denial of its motion.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶4. The issue on appeal is whether bond premiums are recoverable as a "cost" within the meaning of Mississippi Code Annotated section 11-51-77 (Rev. 2012). An appellate court's "review of a trial court's interpretation of a statute presents a question of law; we review questions of law de novo." Miss. Ethics Comm'n v. Grisham, 957 So.2d 997, 1000 (¶8) (Miss. 2007) (quoting 32 Pit Bulldogs v. Cty. of Prentiss, 808 So.2d 971, 973 (¶8) (Miss. 2002)).

         DISCUSSION

         I. ...


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