Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Anderson v. Wiggins

Court of Appeals of Mississippi, En Banc

May 14, 2019

CHASITY ANDERSON APPELLANT
v.
DARNICE WIGGINS APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/29/2016

          COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: RANKIN COUNTY CHANCERY COURT, HON. JOHN S. GRANT III, TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: JAMES NELSON SCARFF II

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: THOMAS J. LOWE JR. JAMES BYRNES GRENFELL

          GREENLEE, J.

         ¶1. After the death of her son, Darnice Wiggins sued her son's fiancée, Chasity Anderson, for conversion. Wiggins then moved for summary judgment against Anderson. Anderson moved for a continuance but never specifically responded to the summary judgment motion. Three days before the hearing, Anderson's attorney suffered a medical emergency and suspended his legal practice. The Rankin County Chancery Court denied the continuance, went forward with the hearing, and granted summary judgment. After the denial of her post-trial motions, Anderson appealed. We find no error and affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Wiggins's son, Jhonte Sanders, began dating Anderson in 2013. Sanders lived in Chicago, Illinois, and Anderson lived in Florence, Mississippi. Sanders suffered from leukemia and soon moved to Mississippi to begin chemotherapy treatments at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Several seizures severely compromised his mental and physical abilities. He died in February 2015.

         ¶3. Before his death, he received a personal-injury settlement in excess of $350, 000. While engaged to Anderson, he made several transfers to her from that settlement. The following transfers are the crux of the complaint for conversion:

1. $100, 072.73 transferred from Sanders's Navy Federal Credit Union account to Trustmark Bank on January 15, 2015;
2. $105, 000.00 in a transfer from Sanders's Trustmark Bank account to Anderson, dated January 22, 2015; and
3. $100, 000.00 transferred from Sanders's Navy Federal Credit Union account to Anderson on January 23, 2015.

         ¶4. After his death, the Rankin County Chancery Court appointed his mother, Wiggins, administratrix of his estate. Wiggins sued Anderson for conversion in August 2015. Anderson was served with a copy of the summons and an unfiled complaint for conversion in September 2015. She was served with requests for admissions in October 2015. She failed to respond after thirty days, and the chancery court entered a default judgment against her in January 2016. The chancery court later granted her motion to set aside the default judgment but deemed that the unanswered requests for admissions be admitted.

         ¶5. Wiggins then moved for summary judgment. A hearing on the motion was scheduled for November 29, 2016. One week before that hearing, Anderson moved for a continuance. She claimed that she was unable to depose the plaintiff's expert witness and that her attorney, James Scarff, had several hearings that day and could not attend. Wiggins opposed the continuance because Scarff had already delayed the litigation several times with multiple continuance requests.

         ¶6. Two days before the hearing, Scarff became seriously ill and suspended his law practice for thirty days. He notified the chancery court of his poor health, and the court advised him to have another attorney appear at the hearing on his behalf and ask for a continuance. Scarff did not file a separate motion for a continuance. On the day of the hearing, two of his colleagues appeared before the court to explain that Scarff could not offer Anderson representation. Neither colleague entered an appearance for Anderson before or at the time of the hearing, but they later entered an appearance to file the post-trial motions. Anderson did not appear at the hearing, and there is no evidence that anyone ever alerted her to her attorney's absence.

         ¶7. The chancery court proceeded with the scheduled hearing. It denied the motion for a continuance and granted summary judgment. Anderson then moved for reconsideration and moved for a new trial. The court denied both motions. It is from this judgment that Anderson appeals. She asserts that: (1) the chancery court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction over the conversion claim; (2) the chancery court abused its discretion when it denied the motion for a continuance; (3) the chancery court erred when it granted summary judgment; and (4) the chancery court erred when it denied Anderson's post-trial motions. Finding no error, we affirm.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Did the chancery court have subject-matter jurisdiction over the conversion claim?

         ¶8. Anderson argues that chancery court was not the proper court in which to file a claim for conversion. She asserts that the court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over the claim. "The question of subject matter jurisdiction is an issue of law to which this Court must apply a de novo standard of review." In re Adoption of J.D.S., 953 So.2d 1133, 1136 (¶11) (Miss. Ct. App. 2007).

         ¶9. Our State's Constitution limits chancery-court jurisdiction:

The chancery court shall have full jurisdiction in the following matters and cases, viz.:
(a) All matters in equity;
(b) Divorce and alimony;
(c) Matters testamentary and of administration;
(d) Minor's business;
(e) Cases of idiocy, lunacy, and persons of unsound mind;
(f) All cases of which the said court had jurisdiction under the laws in force when this ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.