HOLLY S. MORGAN APPELLANT
MML INVESTORS SERVICES, INC., MASSACHUSETTS MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY AND STEPHEN COLLINS, INDIVIDUALLY AND D/B/A COLLINS FINANCIAL NETWORK APPELLEES
OF JUDGMENT: 04/19/2016
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. WILLIAM A.
GOWAN JR. TRIAL JUDGE
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: ROBERT G. GERMANY CRYMES G. PITTMAN
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: ROY H. LIDDELL TREY C. DELLINGER
REBECCA B. COWAN WHITMAN B. JOHNSON III BEN C. LEWIS
GRIFFIS, P.J., WILSON AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.
Ralph "Skip" Moore was a registered representative
of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual)
and a unit sales manager for Collins Financial Network (CFN).
Holly Morgan had known Moore for twenty-five years. In
February 2009, Morgan gave Moore $20, 000 in cash. She says
the cash was for an unspecified "investment" and
that Moore promised an eighteen to twenty-five percent return
in only six months. However, Moore says that Morgan asked him
to hold the cash for her as a favor and later told him to bet
it on the Super Bowl. He says that he eventually lost all the
money on bets on the Super Bowl and basketball games. In
February 2009, Morgan also gave Moore a check for $75, 000.
The payee line was blank, and Moore filled in his name.
Morgan says these funds were for another unspecified
"investment" and that Moore promised a return of
eighteen to twenty-five percent in twelve to eighteen months.
However, Moore says that the funds were for a loan to a
friend of his. The friend was unable to repay the loan.
Morgan sued Moore, MassMutual and one of its subsidiaries,
and Stephen Collins, individually and d/b/a CFN, in circuit
court. Morgan eventually narrowed her complaint to claims for
breach of contract and conversion. She argued that MassMutual
and Collins were liable because they clothed Moore with
"apparent authority" to enter into the alleged
investment contracts and to accept funds for the alleged
investments. She also argued that Collins was liable because
Moore was CFN's employee. On motions for summary
judgment, the circuit court ruled that there were no genuine
issues of material fact and that neither MassMutual nor
Collins was liable for Moore's alleged actions under a
theory of apparent authority or otherwise. The court granted
summary judgment for both and certified its rulings as final
pursuant to Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b),
Morgan filed a timely notice of appeal. We find no error and
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Morgan and Moore have been casual acquaintances for over
twenty-five years. In January 2009, they crossed paths at
Tico's Steak House in Ridgeland. They spoke briefly, and
Morgan gave Moore her telephone number. He soon called her,
and they made plans to meet for lunch at Nick's
Restaurant in Jackson.
Morgan and Moore discussed his position as unit sales manager
for CFN and a registered representative of
MassMutual. Morgan expressed interest in purchasing a life
insurance policy from Moore, and on February 17, 2009, Morgan
completed and signed an application for life insurance with
MassMutual at Moore's office. However, Morgan ultimately
decided to abandon the application. Morgan never submitted
any payment in connection with this application and did not
expect MassMutual to issue a policy to her.
In February 2009, Morgan gave Moore two large sums of money.
In early February, she gave him $20, 000 in cash. Morgan says
that the cash was for an "investment." She alleges
that Moore promised that she would be repaid the principal
plus eighteen to twenty-five percent interest in only six
months. According to Moore, there was no further discussion
of the nature of the "investment, " and she never
received or requested any documentation concerning the
investment. Morgan was unsure whether she gave Moore the cash
at Nick's or at his office.
On February 17, 2009, Morgan gave Moore a check for $75, 000.
Morgan says that this money was also for an unspecified
"investment." She alleges that Moore promised that
she would be repaid the principal plus eighteen to
twenty-five percent interest in twelve to eighteen months.
Once again, according to Morgan, there was no further
discussion of the nature of the "investment, " and
she never received or requested any documentation of it.
Morgan says that she gave Moore the check in his office and
that she left the payee line blank because Moore said he
would "stamp" it for her. When Morgan received her
bank statement, she noticed that Moore had written in his
name as the payee, but this did not concern her.
Moore's version of events is significantly different. He
claims that after he and Morgan reconnected at Tico's,
they began a romantic relationship. He denies that he
provided Morgan any financial services other than accepting
her application for a life insurance policy, which she
ultimately decided against. Moore claims that Morgan gave him
the $20, 000 cash to hold while she was on vacation in Cabo
San Lucas, Mexico. Moore claims that Morgan gave him the cash
at Nick's and that this was not the only time that she
asked him to hold a large sum of cash for her. Moore says
that after Morgan returned from Mexico, he tried to return
the money to her multiple times, but she told him to continue
holding it. According to Moore, Morgan eventually told him to
bet the money on the Super Bowl. He lost $10, 000 on the