OF JUDGMENT: 09/01/2016
COUNTY CHANCERY COURT HON. JACQUELINE ESTES MASK
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: SARAH CLINE STEVENS
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: L. BRADLEY DILLARD JOHN M. CREEKMORE
GRIFFIS, P.J., CARLTON AND GREENLEE, JJ.
After a trial held on June 30, 2016, the Monroe County
Chancery Court granted Donald and Nancy Richey's
complaint seeking to quiet and confirm title and asserting a
claim of adverse possession against Anthony Little.
Anthony now appeals, asserting the following assignments of
error: (1) the trial court abused its discretion in denying
his motion for additional time to conduct discovery; (2) the
Richeys failed to prove each element of their
adverse-possession claim by clear and convincing evidence;
and (3) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting
the deposition of witness Sherry Bortz into evidence.
Finding no error, we affirm the trial court's judgment.
On January 26, 2011, Donald and Nancy filed a complaint in
the Monroe County Chancery Court asserting a claim of adverse
possession and seeking to quiet and confirm title to real
property. The Richeys initially filed the complaint against
Tim Little and any unknown persons having any legal or
equitable interest in the real property located in Monroe
County, Mississippi. The chancellor later granted the
Richeys' motion to join Tim's son, Anthony Little, as
a defendant. The agreed order granting the Richeys'
motion to join Anthony as a defendant was executed by Bradley
Dillard, counsel for the Richeys, and Timothy Ervin, counsel
for Tim. The record shows that Timothy Ervin also signed the
order as counsel for Anthony.
The chancellor held a trial on the matter on April 21, 2016.
The chancellor dismissed Tim as a defendant due to the fact
that he no longer owned the property in question. At that
time, Anthony informed the chancellor that Ervin did not, and
never had, represented him in the matter at issue. Anthony
requested a continuance in order to retain additional
The chancellor granted the request and continued the case
until June 30, 2016, so that Anthony could retain additional
counsel. After moving the trial date to June 30, 2016, the
chancellor cautioned Anthony:
[U]nless there is an emergency of some kind, there will not
be a continuance, so you need to advise your attorney, if you
hire one, of the court date so they will be available because
we are going to get this case finalized within the next
hopefully few weeks as soon as I check my schedule.
On June 16, 2016, two weeks before trial, Sarah Cline Stevens
entered an appearance in the matter on behalf of Anthony and
filed a motion for additional time to conduct discovery. The
chancellor denied the motion.
After the trial, the chancellor entered her opinion and
judgment on September 1, 2016, finding in favor of the
Richeys as to their claim of adverse possession. Anthony now
"This Court employs a limited standard of review when
reviewing the decisions of a chancellor." Powell v.
Meyer, 203 So. 3d 648, 652 (¶16) (Miss. Ct. App.
2016). We will only reverse a chancellor's determinations
if "they were manifestly wrong, clearly erroneous, or .
. . the chancellor applied an incorrect legal standard."
Denial of Discovery
Anthony argues that the Richeys failed to properly and timely
join him as a defendant in the present case. Anthony asserts
that, as a result, the chancellor abused her discretion by
allowing the case to proceed to trial without adequate time
for him to conduct discovery. Anthony also alleges that the
chancellor and counsel for the Richeys "coerced"
Anthony into waiving his rights to discovery and time to
prepare for a trial by soliciting a verbal waiver stipulating
his submission to the jurisdiction of the court and waiving
all rights to a continuance. Anthony argues that the
inability to conduct discovery left him unable to defend
himself against the Richeys' claim of adverse possession.
The Mississippi Supreme Court has held that "[t]he trial
court has considerable discretion in matters relating to
discovery and its order will not be disturbed unless there
has been an abuse of that discretion." Strickland v.
Estate of Broome, 179 So. 3d 1088');">179 So. 3d 1088, 1094 (¶19)
(Miss. 2015); see also Blossom v. Blossom, 66 So. 3d
124, 126 (¶9) (Miss. 2011).
The record reflects that during Tim and Anthony's
depositions, the Richeys discovered that Anthony, and not
Tim, now constituted the record owner of the property at
issue. As a result, the Richeys filed a motion to join
Anthony in the action "so that a full adjudication in
this cause would be binding on him as well as the other
parties." On January 18, 2013, the chancellor granted
the Richeys' motion to join Anthony as a defendant. The
order granting the motion reflects that Anthony had no
objection to the motion. The order also states that Anthony
waived service of a summons and complaint on him in the
matter. The order provides, in full:
Before the court is a Motion for Joinder of Party filed by
[the Richeys], and after having duly considered said Motion
and having been advised that attorney Tim Ervin has no
objection, nor does proposed Defendant Anthony Little have
any objection to same, the court hereby finds that said
Motion for Joinder of Party is hereby well taken and should
be granted. It is, therefore,
ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that Anthony Little is hereby joined as
a party Defendant in this cause, waiving service of a Summons