CITY OF MERIDIAN, MISSISSIPPI d/b/a EAST MISSISSIPPI DRUG TASK FORCE
$104, 960.00 U.S. CURRENCY, AND A 2003 FORD F-150 SUPERCAB TRUCK, VIN #1FTRX17213NB65899 AND MARIA I. VALLE CATALAN
OF JUDGMENT: 04/28/2015
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. LESTER F. WILLIAMSON, JR. TRIAL
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: ANDY DAVIS.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: J. STEWART PARRISH JESSICA LEIGH
The City of Meridian filed a petition for forfeiture under
Mississippi Code Sections 41-29-153(a)(5) and/or
41-29-153(a)(7) against Maria Catalan after police found
$104, 690 in her truck during a traffic stop. Catalan filed a
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule
12(b)(6) of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure, which
the Lauderdale County County Court granted. The Lauderdale
County Circuit Court affirmed. The City appealed, and the
Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the circuit court.
City of Meridian v. $104, 960.00 U.S. Currency, 2016
WL 3906076 (Miss. Ct. App. July 19, 2016). The City
petitioned this Court for writ of certiorari.
Having granted certiorari, we agree with the Court of
Appeals' dissent that the City's forfeiture petition
satisfies the notice pleading requirements of Rule 8 of the
Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure. We also agree with the
Court of Appeals' dissent that in deciding the Rule
12(b)(6) motion, the county court considered matters outside
the City's petition. The court also considered matters
outside the pleadings for purposes of Rule 12(c), which
allows for a judgment on the pleadings. In doing so, the
county court in effect converted the Rule 12(b)(6) and/or
12(c) motion into a motion for summary judgment, as provided
in Rule 56 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule
56(c) of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure requires at
least ten days' notice to both parties that the court is
converting the motion, which did not occur in this instance.
Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals
as well as the county court's order, and remand the case
for further proceedings.
The Court of Appeals set forth the facts of the case as
On June 2, 2012, Catalan was pulled over for
"tired" driving. A consensual search revealed $104,
690 hidden in one of the truck's compartments. No
contraband or drugs were found in the truck. Nor was Catalan
charged with any criminal offense or even a traffic citation.
A few weeks later, the City filed a petition for forfeiture
requesting the forfeiture of Catalan's truck and the
$104, 690. Catalan filed an answer and a request for
production. The City then filed a motion to continue and/or
set the case, and the case was set for November 3, 2012.
The case dragged on for over a year with discovery and
motions. On August 14, 2013, Catalan filed a motion to
dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). After a hearing, the court
granted the motion and ordered the City to return the
confiscated money and truck to Catalan. The City appealed to
the circuit court, which affirmed the county court's
decision. . . .
City of Meridian, 2016 WL 3906076, at *1.
The Court of Appeals held that, while the City's petition
named the currency and truck as items for forfeiture, it
failed to state any reason for their forfeiture. Id.
at *3. "Specifically, the City presented no facts or
circumstances to show how the use or intended use of the
money and truck violated the Mississippi Uniform Controlled
Substances Law." See id. (relying on M.R.C.P. 8
cmt., which states, "[a]lthough Rule 8 abolishes many
technical requirements of pleadings, it does not eliminate
the necessity of stating circumstances, occurrences, and
events which support the proffered claim"). Therefore,