FERLISI BRAY, RUBY JANELL MOORE, CASSANDRA FAY BERRY, KIMBERLY AUTMAN-SEVRANEK, HELEN AUTMAN, MARILYN AUTMAN-WALLACE, HELEN CHERIE AUTMAN-AULTMAN, SHELLY CHERIE AUTMAN-SMITH, BRENDA AUTMAN-DARDEN, LINDA AUTMAN-MCDONALD, SHARON AUTMAN-BROOKS, CATHERINE AUTMAN, DOROTHY ANN AUTMAN WARD, ERTHA WOOTEN WATSON AND JOHNNY LEE HARRIS APPELLANTS
RUFUS WOOTEN, DOROTHY WOOTEN, SHEDRICK WOOTEN, FLORA WOOTEN AND MISSISSIPPI POWER COMPANY APPELLEES
OF JUDGMENT: 07/11/2014
COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. JOSEPH KILGORE JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANTS JAMES A. WILLIAMS
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: KARL CRAWFORD HIGHTOWER WILLIAM B.
JACOB BEN HARRY STONE
GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES AND FAIR, JJ.
This case considers a dispute as to the proper ownership or
title to property located in Kemper County, Mississippi.
Ferlisi Bray and several heirs-at-law of Frank Wooten Jr.
(collectively referred to as "Bray) challenged the title
of land owned by the heirs of Rufus Wooten Sr. (collectively
referred to as "Wooten") and Mississippi Power
Company. Mississippi Power is a party to this action because
the land in issue would be used by Mississippi Power's
Kemper County coal plant due to the large lignite coal
deposits contained in the land. The Chancery Court of Kemper
County granted summary judgment. We find no error and affirm.
On January 11, 1925, Frank Wooten Jr. died intestate. He left
126 acres of land in Kemper County to his wife, Pearlie
Wooten, and his ten children.
By deed dated October 20, 1933, Frank Jr.'s ten children
conveyed their interest in the land to Pearlie. The deed was
signed by two minor children: Phenolia Wooten (born on
October 15, 1916), and Trecia Wooten (born on August 12,
On November 11, 1952, Pearlie conveyed the land to her
children in three separate conveyances. She conveyed
sixty-six acres to Rufus Sr. She also conveyed twenty acres
to Arthur Wooten. She then conveyed forty acres to her
remaining eight children. At the time of the conveyance,
Pearlie lived with Rufus Sr. and his family in the house on
the land. Arthur resided in a nearby house that was also on
Pearlie died in 1964. That same year, Arthur conveyed his
twenty-acre tract to Rufus Sr., who continued to live and
work on the land until his death in 2006. At Rufus Sr.'s
death, the property passed to his sons, Rufus Wooten Jr. and
Shedrick Wooten, through a series of leases and conveyances.
Bray claims an interest in this land.
Bray also claims an interest in the land conveyed by Wooten
and Kenny Wooten to Mississippi Power. Mississippi Power
intended to use the land for the Kemper County coal plant due
to the large lignite coal deposits contained in the land.
This conveyance gave rise to the current action against
On September 6, 2013, Bray filed a complaint in Kemper County
Chancery Court to quiet title in the entire 126 acres. Bray
alleged that the 1933 and 1952 deeds were invalid and the
land passed to Frank Jr.'s heirs-at-law. The primary
argument was that the 1933 deed was invalid because two
minors signed the deed.
On October 2, 2013, Bray filed a first amended complaint.
Wooten answered the complaint the following day. On October
28, 2013, Mississippi Power filed its responsive pleading,
which included a counterclaim for adverse possession.
On November 4, 2013, Wooten propounded discovery. The
discovery included requests for admissions, which Bray failed
to answer in a timely manner. On January 2, 2014, Wooten
filed a motion to deem the requested matters admitted. On
January 15, 2014, Bray filed a motion to withdraw the deemed
On March 3, 2014, Wooten filed a motion for summary judgment.
In the motion for summary judgment, Wooten argued that Bray
failed to dispute the validity of the 1933 deed and did not
demonstrate any renunciation by the minors. Thus, Wooten
argued that this inaction validated the 1933 deed and the
subsequent deeds, which entitled him to a judgment as a
matter of law.
On April 15, 2014, Bray filed a motion for a continuance.
Bray asked for additional time to file a second amended
complaint, to respond to Wooten's motion for ...