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WC Baker Company LLC v. Stockton

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

December 4, 2018

WC BAKER COMPANY LLC APPELLANT
v.
PHILDEN STOCKTON AND LEIGH ANNE STOCKTON APPELLEES

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 12/07/2017

          ITAWAMBA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. PAUL S. FUNDERBURK JUDGE

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: PATRICK VANCE DALY BRETT CLANTON PICKLE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES: MICHAEL PAUL MILLS JR.

          BEFORE LEE, C.J., GREENLEE AND TINDELL, JJ.

          LEE, C.J.

         ¶1. In this appeal we must determine whether the circuit court erred when it held that Mississippi Code Annotated Section 73-59-9(3) (Rev. 2017) barred WC Baker Company LLC's suit against Philden and Leigh Anne Stockton for breach of contract. Finding the circuit court erred in its application of section 73-59-9(3), we reverse the circuit court's judgment and remand the case for further proceedings.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. In April 2014, the Stocktons hired WC Baker Company, an Alabama limited-liability company, to build their residence in Itawamba County, Mississippi. The parties had an oral agreement that they did not formalize in writing. WC Baker did not have a residential builder's license at the time it contracted with the Stocktons or during the construction of the Stocktons' home.

         ¶3. On April 12, 2016, WC Baker filed suit against the Stocktons for breach of contract, claiming that pursuant to the terms of the contract, the Stocktons were to pay the invoices as billed by WC Baker until the project was paid in full and that the Stocktons failed to fully pay WC Baker for all work performed. WC Baker's complaint alleged the Stocktons owed $57, 638.83 in outstanding, unpaid invoices. The Stocktons filed their answer, defenses, and counterclaims against WC Baker on June 10, 2016, and WC Baker filed its answer to the counterclaim on July 19, 2016.

         ¶4. Importantly, on July 21, 2017, the Stocktons filed a Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss all claims, arguing that section 73-59-9(3) barred WC Baker from bringing suit because it did not have a residential builder's license when it constructed the Stocktons' home. WC Baker filed its response, acknowledging that it did not have a builder's license at the time it constructed the home but that it had a builder's license at the time it filed suit, which is all that is required under section 73-59-9(3). Following a hearing, the circuit court granted the Stocktons' motion, thereby dismissing WC Baker's claims. WC Baker now appeals.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶5. "When reviewing a trial court's grant or denial of a motion to dismiss, this Court employs a de novo standard of review." Standifer v. Boren ex rel. Graham, 111 ...


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