CLIFFORD C. FRISBY AND OASIS REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT, INC. APPELLANTS
FERRELL "BJ" WARDEN APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 10/04/2016
HARRISON COUNTY CHANCERY COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON.
JENNIFER T. SCHLOEGEL JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANTS: MICHAEL JOSEPH YENTZEN
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: JAMES F. THOMPSON WILLIAM W. DREHER
LEE, C.J., FAIR AND GREENLEE, JJ.
Clifford C. Frisby appeals from the Harrison County Chancery
Court's finding that three handwritten documents were
enforceable contracts between Frisby and Ferrell Warden for
the sale of a home to Warden. The documents provided for
credit toward the purchase price of the property in exchange
for work performed by Warden. The chancellor ordered specific
performance by Frisby and that Warden pay the remaining
amount owed. Finding no error, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Oasis Real Estate Investment, Inc. is a Mississippi
Corporation. Frisby is its president and owner. In June 2010,
Frisby acquired the property through a quitclaim deed from
Michael Neill. In 2011, Frisby allowed Warden to move into
this property. On February 9, 2015, Frisby filed an eviction
action against Warden in justice court. On March 19, 2015, in
response to the eviction action, Warden filed a
"Petition To Enforce Purchase Contract and Stay
Proceedings" against Frisby and Oasis in chancery court.
Warden sought enforcement of three handwritten contracts
between himself and Frisby for purchase of the property. In
support of his petition, Warden attached three handwritten
documents that were apparently signed by both parties. The
documents detailed work that Warden performed for Frisby, and
indicated that Warden's work would count toward the $24,
000 purchase price of the property. Warden also sought a stay of
the justice court eviction proceedings during the pendency of
the chancery court proceedings.
On May 12, 2015, Frisby answered Warden's petition with a
motion to dismiss, a motion to deny stay of eviction, and a
counterclaim for fraud alleging that his signatures on the
agreements were forgeries. He further requested monetary
damages for fraud, slander of title, and attorney's fees.
On July 15, 2015, the chancellor heard Frisby's motion to
dismiss and motion to deny stay of eviction, ultimately
denying both of Frisby's motions. The chancellor also
transferred the justice court eviction action and
consolidated it with Warden's enforcement-of-contract
action in the chancery court.
On August 2, 2016, and September 8, 2016, the chancellor held
a hearing on the consolidated matter. Warden introduced
duplicates of the three alleged contracts and called four
witnesses, including Frisby as an adverse witness. Frisby
called six witnesses, including an expert in forensic
document examination. At the close of the testimony, the
chancellor verbally ordered Frisby to specifically perform on
the three contracts and ordered Warden, based on the amounts
previously paid pursuant to the contracts, to pay $11, 300 as
full and final payment toward the purchase price of the
property. A final judgment reflecting her verbal order was
entered on October 4, 2016. Aggrieved, Frisby filed an
unsuccessful motion for reconsideration and to set aside the
Frisby timely appeals from the final judgment and denial of
his motion for reconsideration. Frisby raises five issues:
(1) whether the chancellor erred in allowing duplicates of
the handwritten documents into evidence; (2) whether the
chancellor erred in placing the burden of proof on Frisby to
prove his fraud allegation; (3) whether Warden carried his
burden of proof; (4) whether the chancellor erred in finding
that Warden detrimentally relied on Frisby's promise; and
(5) whether Frisby presented sufficient evidence to prevail
on his fraud claim.
This Court employs a limited standard of review in reviewing
a chancellor's decision. Reddell v. Reddell, 696
So.2d 287, 288 (Miss. 1997). Thus, the chancellor's
findings of fact will not be disturbed upon review unless
they were manifestly wrong, clearly erroneous, or the
chancellor applied the wrong legal standard. Powell v.
Meyer, 203 So.3d 648, 652 (¶16) (Miss. Ct. App.
2016). Further, the "standard of review for the trial
court's admission or suppression of evidence, including
expert testimony, is abuse of discretion." Tunica
Cty. v. Matthews, 926 So.2d 209, ...