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Natchez Hospital Co., LLC v. Adams County Board of Supervisors

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

March 22, 2018

NATCHEZ HOSPITAL COMPANY, LLC AND NATCHEZ COMMUNITY HOSPITAL, LLC
v.
ADAMS COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/08/2016

          COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: ADAMS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. FRANK G. VOLLOR

          TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: ANDY LOWRY, THOMAS L. KIRKLAND, JR. SCOTT FLETCHER SLOVER AISHA ARLENE SANDERS

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS: ANDY LOWRY THOMAS L. KIRKLAND, JR.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: SCOTT FLETCHER SLOVER ELIZABETH D. MARTIN AISHA ARLENE SANDERS

          RANDOLPH, PRESIDING JUSTICE

         ¶1. Pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 27-35-119 (Rev. 2017), Natchez Hospital Company, LLC, ("Hospital") filed a Complaint and Petition For Reduction of Assessment on Software in circuit court. This ad valorem assessment was made by the Adams County Board of Supervisors ("Board"). Prior to appealing to the circuit court, the Hospital paid the ad valorem taxes as assessed. The Board filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, arguing that the Hospital had failed to post the necessary appeal bond required by Mississippi Code Section 11-51-77 (Rev. 2012), thus depriving the circuit court of jurisdiction.

         ¶2. Following a hearing on the motion, the circuit court determined that the Hospital's failure to post the bond under Section 11-51-77 deprived the court of jurisdiction to hear the appeal and granted the Board's motion to dismiss.

         ¶3. The merits of the tax appeal are not before this Court. Rather, the Hospital appeals the circuit court's decision to dismiss the case, asking only whether the bond requirement of Mississippi Code Section 11-51-77 is mandatory to confer jurisdiction on a circuit court to hear an appeal from a decision of a board of supervisors regarding an assessment of taxes.

         ANALYSIS

         ¶4. When reviewing a lower court's decision to dismiss a matter for lack of jurisdiction, we apply a de novo standard of review. Derr Plantation, Inc. v. Swarek, 14 So.3d 711, 715 (Miss. 2009). Likewise, the interpretation of a statute and its harmony with other provisions presents a question of law, which we review de novo. See Estate of Klaus ex rel. Klaus v. Vicksburg Healthcare, LLC, 972 So.2d 555, 556 (Miss. 2007).

         ¶5. Three statutes are at issue in this case: Mississippi Code Section 11-51-77; Mississippi Code Section 27-35-119; and Mississippi Code Section 27-35-121. The statutes provide, in pertinent part:

Any person aggrieved by a decision of the board of supervisors or the municipal authorities of a city, town or village, as to the assessment of taxes, may, within ten days after the adjournment of the meeting at which such decision is made, appeal to the circuit court of the county, upon giving bond, with sufficient sureties, in double the amount of the matter in dispute, but never less than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00), payable to the state, and conditioned to perform the judgment of the circuit court, and to be approved by the clerk of such board, who, upon the filing of such bond, shall make a true copy of any papers on file relating to such controversy, and file such copy certified by him, with said bond, in the office of the clerk of the circuit court, on or before its next term. The controversy shall be tried anew in the circuit court at the first term, and be a preference case, and, if the matter be decided against the person who appealed, judgment shall be rendered on the appeal bond for damages at the rate of ten percent (10%) on the amount in ...

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