OF JUDGMENT: 03/03/2017
FROM WHICH APPEALED: HANCOCK COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON.
LAWRENCE PAUL BOURGEOIS JR. TRIAL JUDGE.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: WILLIAM ALEX BRADY II MICHELLE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: JENNIFER HUGHES SCOTT.
GRIFFIS, P.J., FAIR AND TINDELL, JJ.
The City of Bay St. Louis fired Louis Bourgeois after he
asked a police officer to run a license plate number for him.
Bourgeois said a vehicle had been following him, and he
feared it related to his job as a fire inspector. But it
turned out that the man who owned the vehicle was dating
Bourgeois's former girlfriend, and the City concluded
that Bourgeois's story about being followed was a pretext
to pursue a personal vendetta. The City's civil service
commission affirmed Bourgeois's firing, and the circuit
court affirmed the commission. We affirm as well.
Bourgeois presents thirteen issues for our review, which we
have reorganized and consolidated for clarity and economy.
Bourgeois and the City disagree as to whether his termination
was governed by the Mississippi Code or by a city ordinance.
Bourgeois contends that the general civil service statute,
Mississippi Code Annotated sections 21-31-1 through 21-31-75
(Rev. 2015) controls, and the City failed to comply with its
requirements. The City, however, points out that the statute
only applies to certain categories of municipalities, listed
in section 21-31-1 (2), and Bay St. Louis does not fit into
any of them. The City contends that it is instead governed by
a local and private law, House Bill 1367 of the 1989
legislative session, and by the City ordinance implementing a
civil service system as permitted by the aforementioned law.
In Laurel v. Samuels, 469 So.2d 530, 531 (Miss.
1985), the Mississippi Supreme Court observed that cities not
listed in section 21-31-1(2) are not required to follow the
civil service statutes. The court stated that "[f]rom a
reading of all of the code section establishing that civil
service system, it becomes apparent that it was intended only
to cover employees of the fire and/or police departments of
the municipalities coming within its purview."
Id. Section 21-31-1(2) lists of eight types of
municipality that are mandated to create a civil service
commission, so long as the municipality has a fully paid fire
and police department. Bay St. Louis does not fit into any of
the eight classifications.
We encountered the same issue in the recent case of
Necaise v. City of Waveland, 170 So.3d 616, 618-19
(¶10) (Miss. Ct. App. 2015), where Waveland's civil
service commission was also authorized by a local and private
law. We held:
First and foremost, it is necessary to note that this case
does not turn on any application of Mississippi statutory
law. Mississippi Code Annotated section 21-31-1 (Rev. 2007)
mandates that certain municipalities must have a civil
service commission. Similarly, Mississippi Code Annotated
section 21-31-3 (Rev. 2007) gives qualified municipalities
the authority to adopt a civil service commission. The
Waveland Civil Service Commission is unique in that it is not
a creature of either statute. Instead, the Commission is the
product of Waveland City Ordinance 251 ("the
ordinance"), which was authorized by House Bill 1770 of
the 1994 Mississippi legislative session. Consequently,
neither the provisions nor the procedures set forth in the
statutes that pertain to civil service commissions apply to
this case. Section 10 of the ordinance states that ...