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Keesler Federal Credit Union v. Saucier

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

May 29, 2018

KEESLER FEDERAL CREDIT UNION APPELLANT
v.
BILLY W. SAUCIER APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/25/2017

          STONE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. LISA P. DODSON JUDGE.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: NICHOLAS VAN WISER.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: NO APPEARANCE.

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

          FAIR, J.

         ¶1. Keesler Federal Credit Union appeals from a default judgment obtained against Billy Saucier stemming from two promissory notes. Keesler Federal contends that the circuit court should have required Saucier to pay its attorney's fees for collecting on the second contract. That point is well taken. We remand for the circuit court to reconsider the attorney's fees award in light of our decision. Otherwise, we affirm.

         DISCUSSION

         ¶2. Keesler Federal sued on two promissory notes from Saucier. The first had been secured by a vehicle; the second was a personal loan. The deficiency following the sale of the vehicle was approximately $5, 200, and the second loan had an outstanding principal balance of about $3, 275. On the first loan, Keesler Federal requested and received attorney's fees at the maximum rate allowed under the contract, 15% of the outstanding principal, but the circuit court denied Keesler Federal's demand for attorney's fees on the second loan. Accumulated interest, late fees, and court costs were requested and awarded, also, though no post-judgment interest was added to those awards.

         1. Attorney's Fees on the Second Contract

         ¶3. The circuit court's judgment stated that attorney's fees were not awarded on the second contract because "there is [no] contract provision . . . concerning attorney's fees." On appeal, Keesler Federal points to a provision on the second page of the contract, which appears by itself near the center of the page and is set off by white space and horizontal lines that run the full width of the page. It states:

Collection Costs:
You agree to pay all costs of collecting the amount you owe under this Agreement, including court costs and reasonable attorney's fees.

         ¶4. Contract construction is reviewed de novo. See, e.g., Epperson v. SOUTH Bank, 93 So.3d 10, 16 (¶16) (Miss. 2012). We conclude that the contract unambiguously provides for reasonable attorney's fees and that the circuit court erred in finding otherwise. On this point, we reverse the judgment and remand for the circuit court to reconsider the demand for attorney's fees in light of our decision.

         2. Interest on Attorney's Fees, Costs, Accumulated ...


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