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Wilson v. Wilson

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

March 12, 2019


          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/21/2018





          BARNES, C.J.

         ¶1. After a nineteen-year marriage, Kevin Wilson left his wife, Becky, and the couple divorced on December 28, 2015. Kevin bought a house on Main Street in Natchez, Mississippi in February 2016, and his girlfriend, Dana, moved in with him. Because of complex property-settlement issues in early 2016, Becky had strained communications with Kevin during that time, some of which resulted in "occasional outbursts" by Becky that she later acknowledged were "distasteful and unnecessary." There was also animosity between Becky and Dana, with Becky accusing Dana of breaking up her marriage. Kevin and Dana (The Wilsons) married on November 19, 2016.

         ¶2. On June 21, 2017, the Wilsons filed a complaint with the Adams County Chancery Court for a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and permanent injunction against Becky and her sister, Martha Saulters. The complaint alleged:

That over the past several months Defendants, or one of them, have engaged in a series of events, from social media, to parking in front of and/or driving a vehicle around Plaintiffs' home, to coming onto Plaintiffs' premises and causing a commotion, disturbance and/or physically attacking and assaulting Plaintiffs, which have caused Plaintiffs emotional distress, worry, fear, concern for their personal safety and physical injury.

         The complaint resulted from a May 9, 2017 altercation between the parties. Becky was parked in a public "turnaround" on Main Street, approximately 500 feet from the Wilsons' home. Dana was driving down the street, and she angrily confronted Becky. Dana eventually drove away, and Becky, upset by the confrontation, called her sister, Martha, and law enforcement. Later that afternoon, Martha went to the Wilsons' business to talk to Kevin, and she got into a physical altercation with Dana. Becky was not present. Martha was charged with simple assault, and a "No Contact Conditions" order was entered by the Natchez Municipal Court.

         ¶3. Becky filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on July 6, asserting that the Wilsons failed to state with any specificity the acts alleged or their dates, and she requested a more definite statement.[1] A preliminary motions hearing was held on July 20, 2017. The chancellor held:

[I]t seems like between now and the time we get back into court at least, that everybody can just agree that they will not have any contact -- any intentional contact with anyone on the other side of this case. . . . And if they violate that between now and the time they come back to court, that would not necessarily be a good thing. I'm sure the lawyers will advise their clients to not have any contact because that would certainly not look good at the next hearing.

         The parties mutually agreed to no contact. On August 16, 2017, the Wilsons filed a notice of service styled "Plaintiffs' Response to Motion for More Definite Statement filed herein by Defendant, Becky Wilson." Attached were copies of various texts and Facebook posts from Becky to Kevin and to Dana's daughter-in-law dated early 2016. The content of those messages indicated that Becky was angry and upset about Kevin's leaving her, and she blamed Dana for ruining her marriage.

         ¶4. On January 12, 2018, Becky filed a motion for summary judgment. In an attached affidavit, Becky stated that, on May 9, she had received the approved petition for a name change; so she left her home and was headed to Atmos Energy to change her account to her maiden name. Becky attested that she was stopped in the public turnaround on Main Street near the Wilsons' home because she was trying to search for the gas company's phone number because she could not find their office, which she thought was nearby on Franklin Street. While she admitted in the affidavit that she had been "under the care of a health care professional to assist [her] emotionally in [her] re-adjustment and new life," Becky averred that "there was at no time any act on my part towards Kevin or Dana that could be characterized in any way as supportive of the allegations made in the complaint."

         ¶5. The Wilsons denied the allegations in Becky's motion and filed a motion for a mental examination based on Becky's comment in her affidavit that she had sought help from a health professional. The motion alleged a discrepancy in Becky's affidavit, noting the court's order granting the name change was filed and signed on May 10, not May 9. The Wilsons also testified in an affidavit regarding specific instances of Becky's conduct (mainly aforementioned texts and Facebook posts) from January 2016 to May 2017, and claiming Becky "ha[d] continuously driven by and/or stopped at our home until May 9, 2017."[2] They also claimed that Becky left a note on their door in February 2017, which stated that she had been interested in buying the house before Kevin bought it.

         ¶6. A motions hearing was held on January 30. Becky's counsel argued:

[T]here is no event or incident that has occurred in the last year and a half, in the six - or more than the last year and a half no incident has occurred. So there is no immediate or irreparable harm to the plaintiffs. . . . [T]he injunction request should be dismissed with a motion of summary judgment entered on behalf of Becky Wilson.

         Becky testified that she had been looking for Atmos Energy's office when Dana drove up to her car, "slamm[ing] on brakes" and yelled at her, asking why she was there. Dana then turned around and blocked Becky from moving. Frightened, she called a friend who suggested she contact the police. Kevin happened to drive by at that time, and Dana left. Upset, Becky called her sister and the police, but she decided to let the incident go and went home. The Wilsons did not attend the hearing, but their attorney examined Becky, pointing out inconsistencies in her affidavit regarding the events of May 9. Regarding the prior events alleged by the Wilsons, Becky admitted that she had left a note on the door of the Wilsons' home, but not in 2017 as alleged, but in February 2016, right after Kevin bought the house. She acknowledged the previous texts from early 2016, and apologized, explaining she was heartbroken by the dissolution of her marriage. When asked about treatment for mental health, Becky stated that she had contacted and met with a friend who was a counselor to help her with the emotional trauma she suffered because of the divorce.

         ¶7. On February 21, 2018, the chancery court granted Becky's motion for summary judgment. The court determined that the events from early 2016 were "too remote in time" to the June 2017 complaint for an injunction. The court further held that there was no dispute that Becky was in the public turnaround and, because it was a public street, Becky did not need special permission to be there. Lastly, the chancery court concluded that the events that occurred at the Wilsons' place of business on May 9 were "not proximately caused by Becky."

         ¶8. Becky filed an application for attorney's fees, and a final judgment of dismissal was entered on May 21, incorporating the court's earlier opinion granting summary judgment and awarding, in part, Becky's application for attorney's fees. The Wilsons appeal. Finding no error, we affirm.


         I.Whether the chancery court erred in granting ...

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