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Telecom Tower Group, LLC v. Honeysuckle Creek Holdings, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

September 12, 2017

TELECOM TOWER GROUP, LLC APPELLANT/CROSS-APPELLEE
v.
HONEYSUCKLE CREEK HOLDINGS, INC. APPELLEE/CROSS-APPELLANT

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/13/2015

         COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HINDS COUNTY CHANCERY COURT, SECOND JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. J. DEWAYNE THOMAS TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: GARY DALE THRASH JOHN NEWTON SATCHER II ADAM FRAZIER THRASH.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: MICHAEL JAMES BENTLEY MICHAEL LELAND COWAN.

          BEFORE IRVING, P.J., ISHEE AND FAIR, JJ.

          IRVING, P.J.

         ¶1. Telecom Tower Group LLC (Telecom) appeals the judgment of the Hinds County Chancery Court, Second Judicial District, allowing Honeysuckle Creek Holdings Inc. (HCH) to garnish income that Telecom received from a number of cellular-tower leases. The chancellor allowed the garnishment as a means to satisfy the equitable lien that HCH obtained against a property lease that Telecom obtained through an assignment from Cross Development LLC (Cross). Finding no error, we affirm the chancellor's judgment.

         FACTS

         ¶2. In February 2006, HCH obtained a lessee's interest in approximately .23 acres of land via an Option and Lease Agreement that it entered with Judy Washington. Per that agreement, Washington leased her property to HCH so it could build a cellular tower. The initial term was five years, and HCH agreed to pay Washington $450 per month.

         ¶3. In April 2006, HCH entered an agreement with Cross. HCH would assign its lessee's interest in the land to Cross for $75, 000 (minus Cross's expenses for preparing the site for construction of the tower). HCH also had to fulfill a number of other conditions before Cross had to pay, including obtaining a signed lease from Cingular Wireless LLC in which Cingular agreed to install telecommunications equipment on the tower. In November 2006, HCH assigned its land lessee's interest to Cross, which subsequently began making lease payments to Washington. In January 2007, Cross finished building the tower.

         ¶4. It is unclear when HCH entered a lease agreement with Cingular, but it is undisputed that one existed. It is also undisputed that Cingular unilaterally decided not to honor the tower-lease agreement. The tower went unused for eleven months. In late 2007, Cross entered a separate tower lease with Cingular, which installed its equipment on the tower. In other words, Cross was the tower lessor, and Cingular was the tower lessee. Cross refused to pay HCH for the assignment of the land lease because Cross incurred damages due to the eleven-month delay in obtaining a paying tower lease.

         ¶5. In January 2008, HCH sued Cross for breach of contract. HCH wanted Cross to perform under the assignment agreement by paying the full assignment price plus interest. Alternatively, HCH wanted to cancel the assignment. HCH later filed a lis pendens notice on the tower site. The chancellor subsequently entered a default judgment for HCH and set the property to be sold at a public auction. Telecom successfully sought an injunction to prevent the public sale. Telecom also intervened in HCH's lawsuit against Cross. By then, Cross had assigned its land-lessee and tower-lessor interests to Telecom in exchange for a reduction of the debt that Cross[1] owed Telecom's parent company. The chancellor consolidated both lawsuits.

         ¶6. In May 2011, T8 Unison Site Management LLC[2] offered to buy Washington's lessor interest in the land. T8's offer contemplated additional adjacent land, thus creating what Telecom describes as a superior interest in a larger tract of real property. In June 2011, Telecom received notice from T8 that Washington had assigned her land lessor's rights, and Telecom should make its land-lease payments to T8.

         ¶7. Telecom told T8 that it planned to exercise its right of first refusal that it had obtained in the "double-assigned" land-lease agreement. In July 2011, Telecom sued T8 and Washington. Telecom also joined HCH as an interested party. HCH filed an answer, but it did not make a claim against Washington's interest or comment on Telecom's claim against ...


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