Justia Consumer Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi
Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. v. Fitch
Two cases consolidated for the Mississippi Supreme Court's review presented common questions of the validity of a cause of action brought by the Mississippi Attorney General under the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act, Mississippi Code Section 75-24-5. The first was whether the Act covered the State’s claim, and the second was whether that claim was preempted by federal law. In 2014, the State commenced an action against Johnson & Johnson for what it alleged to have been unlawful, unfair, and deceptive business practices related to its cosmetic talcum powder products. Specifically, the State alleged that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn of the risk of ovarian cancer in women who used talc. The Chancery Court denied the summary judgment motion made by Johnson & Johnson and Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc. Johnson & Johnson then filed an interlocutory appeal of the chancellor’s decision, which the Supreme Court granted. The Court concluded the Act did not exclude the State's talc labeling claim. Further, because of the lack of any specific requirement by the Food and Drug Administration, the State’s claim was not barred by the principles of express or implied preemption. Therefore, the judgment of the Chancery Court was affirmed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. v. Fitch" on Justia Law
Navient Corporation v. Mississippi ex rel. Fitch, Attorney General
In 2018, the State of Mississippi filed a complaint against Navient Corporation and Navient Solutions, LLC (together, “Navient”), alleging that Navient’s origination of high-cost, subprime loans and predatory practices while servicing student-loan borrowers in Mississippi violated the Mississippi Consumer Protections Act. Navient moved to dismiss on two grounds: failure to state a claim and lack of venue. In 2019, the chancery court denied Navient’s motion; Navient timely petitioned the Mississippi Supreme Court for an interlocutory appeal, arguing that federal law preempted the State’s servicing claims and that injunctive relief under the Act did not apply because the alleged loan-origination misconduct ceased and could not recur. To this the Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed the trial court. View "Navient Corporation v. Mississippi ex rel. Fitch, Attorney General" on Justia Law
Baker v. Raymond James & Associates Inc.
In 2017, Plaintiffs filed suit against the Defendants. Between 2002 and 2005, Plaintiffs (all retirees from BellSouth) rolled most of their retirement assets over to Steven Savell, their financial advisor at Morgan Keegan. Savell assured Plaintiffs “he would invest [their] money in a way that would provide [them] with income for the remainder of [their] life and that [their] principal would grow over time.” Savell remained in control of these accounts until 2013. During the years Savell handled these accounts, the Plaintiffs continually sustained sizeable losses. Plaintiffs claimed that Savell improperly recommended that they invest in two unsuitable penny stocks and then marked the purchases “unsolicited” so as to prevent detection by the brokerage firm’s policy against soliciting such stock. Plaintiffs also alleged that Savell purchased for them certain annuities designed to be held for the long term, which Savell had them cash out early in order to purchase new annuities that would pay him and Morgan Keegan and/or Raymond James large commissions. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants, finding that all of the Plaintiffs’ claims were time-barred. The Court of Appeals reversed with respect to the Plaintiffs’ common-law claims, finding that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to when Plaintiffs learned or through reasonable diligence should have learned of Defendants’ alleged malfeasance. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted certiorari on Defendants’ claim that the Court of Appeals misapplied the latent-injury discovery-rule exception to the catch-all three-year limitations period provided by Mississippi Code Section 15-1-49 (Rev. 2019). Because the Supreme Court found no genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether Plaintiffs’ common-law claims were time barred, it reversed the Court of Appeals’ decision and reinstated the trial court’s judgment. View "Baker v. Raymond James & Associates Inc." on Justia Law
Will Realty, LLC v. Isaacs
Will Realty, LLC appealed the grant of a motion for relief from judgment in favor of Mark and Sally Isaacs. In 2009, Mainsource Bank, Inc., obtained a judgment against the Isaacses for the sum of $3,911,681.92 and interest in Kentucky. This judgment was assigned to Will on January 6, 2010. In 2019, Will enrolled the judgment in the judgment rolls of Hancock County, Mississippi. Will then filed writs of garnishment directed to multiple banks and the employer of Sally Isaacs. After the writs were issued, the Isaacses sought relief under our Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), claiming the judgment was void. Will responded, arguing that the judgments had been renewed and that the statute of limitations had reset. After receiving argument, the court granted the Isaacses’ requested relief. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined that a plain reading of the applicable statute, Mississippi Code Section 15-1-45 (Rev. 2019) regarding the statute of limitations for judgments from foreign jurisdictions, the trial court correctly granted judgment in favor of the Isaacs because the statute of limitations extinguished Will’s right. View "Will Realty, LLC v. Isaacs" on Justia Law
Mississippi ex rel. Fitch v. Yazaki North America, Inc.
In 2012, the executives of several Japanese auto-parts manufacturers pled guilty to federal crimes based on an international scheme to fix the price of Automotive Wire Harness Systems (AWHS). Three years later, the State of Mississippi sued the American subsidiaries of these federally prosecuted companies, alleging violations of the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act (MCPA) and the Mississippi Antitrust Act (MAA), as well as a civil conspiracy to violate the MCPA and MAA. The trial court dismissed the State’s complaint for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted. The State appealed. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed: the alleged unfair trade practices were too remote in time to support the State’s claim for injunctive relief under the MCPA; the complaint alleged no “wholly intrastate” transactions that would make the alleged illegal cartel punishable under the MAA; and because the State alleged no viable claim for a statutory violation, its civil-conspiracy claim, based solely on the alleged statutory violations, also failed. View "Mississippi ex rel. Fitch v. Yazaki North America, Inc." on Justia Law
Virgil v. Southwest Mississippi Electric Power Association
Southwest Mississippi Electric Power Association (Southwest) was a nonprofit, member-owned electric cooperative corporation created by statute to provide electricity to rural Mississippians. Plaintiffs Ray Virgil, Barbara Lloyd, and Cassandra Johnson were are members of Southwest who filed a lawsuit alleging Southwest failed to return excess revenues and receipts to its members. Southwest moved to compel arbitration. The trial court granted Southwest’s motion to compel arbitration. Plaintiffs appealed. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Virgil v. Southwest Mississippi Electric Power Association" on Justia Law
Jackson Mac Haik CDJR, Ltd. v. Hester
Mac Haik appeals the circuit court’s denial of its motion to compel arbitration. In 2016, plaintiff Brenda Hester purchased a used 2014 Dodge Ram from Jackson Mac Haik CDJR, Ltd. (Mac Haik). Hester executed a retail-installment sale contract with Mac Haik for the purchase of the vehicle. The contract contained an arbitration provision. In 2017, Hester sued Mac Haik, American Financial Warranty Corporation (American Warranty), Randy Miggins d/b/a M&S Towing, and Randy Miggins, alleging that the vehicle she bought from Mac Haik “was defective in materials and workmanship from and after the date of purchase” and “that said defects have existed since the Plaintiff started using said vehicle.” She alleged further that American Warranty issued her a warranty but failed to repair her truck. Hester never served American Warranty with a summons and copy of her complaint. Hester alleged that Mac Haik took possession of her vehicle to make warranted repairs and later allowed it to be towed. Mac Haik, finding that all of Hester’s claims, which sounded in tort or contract and related to her purchase or condition of the vehicle at issue, argued that the claims were subject to arbitration. Mac Haik appealed the circuit court’s denial of its motion to compel arbitration. Because the Mississippi Supreme Court found that the claims fell within the scope of the valid arbitration provision, and that no defenses existed to bar arbitration, it reversed reverse the circuit court’s order denying Mac Haik’s motion to compel arbitration and ordered the claims to arbitration. View "Jackson Mac Haik CDJR, Ltd. v. Hester" on Justia Law
Fresenius Medical Care Holdings, Inc. v. Hood
Fresenius Medical Care Holdings, Inc., and Fresenius USA, Inc., operated dialysis treatment clinics throughout the United States, including Mississippi. Fresenius also manufactured and sold dialysis products, including GranuFlo, a product administered to patients being treated for end-stage renal disease. GranuFlo was an acid concentrate mixed with bicarbonate and water to create a dialysis fluid. In 2014, the State of Mississippi brought a civil action against Fresenius, alleging that it had engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices in connection with GranuFlo in violation of the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act. At issue before the Mississippi Supreme Court in this appeal were a batch of discovery disputes arising between the State and Fresenius brought on interlocutory appeal. The State filed a motion to compel discovery against Fresenius and requested a privilege log. Fresenius provided the State with a privilege log similar to the logs produced in other GranuFlo litigation pending elsewhere. Although the State had objected, Fresenius did not log each individual email and email attachment; rather, Fresenius logged “families” or aggregates of documents. The chancery court granted the State’s motion to compel and ordered Fresenius to produce a “full and complete privilege log” to the State. Fresenius produced a second amended privilege log to the State, continuing to use the family logging method. The State filed a second motion to compel, seeking: (1) all emails and email attachments not separately identified on Fresenius’s July 1, 2016, privilege log; (2) withheld documents referred to as attorney notifications (nurses’ memoranda sent to doctors and in-house counsel); and (3) withheld documents referred to as public comment advice (public relations documents). The chancery court ordered Fresenius to produce all emails and email attachments that were responsive to the State’s discovery requests, that had not been produced, and that had not been separately identified on Fresenius’s July 1, 2016, privilege log. The chancery court also ordered Fresenius to submit attorney notifications and public relations documents for in camera review, later ordering production of the notifications. Fresenius appealed these orders. The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the chancery court's order with respect to the public relations documents; the Court affirmed in all other respects. View "Fresenius Medical Care Holdings, Inc. v. Hood" on Justia Law
Pedigo v. Robertson
This appeal stemmed from Brian Pedigo’s suit against Rent-A-Center, Inc., for actual and punitive damages, alleging claims of malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Pedigo decided to make the rental- purchase of a back-lit, LED television and entered a Rental Purchase Agreement (RPA) for the lease. Pedigo had failed to fulfill his payment obligations under the RPA and was more than twenty days past-due under the agreement. Finding the contract had been breached, RAC manager Kristopher Robertson sought to recover the television from Pedigo. Through his attempts at recovery, Robertson discovered that the television was pawned shortly after it was leased. After discovering Pedigo had pawned the television, Robertson filed a complaint with the police. Based on this information, an arrest warrant for the theft of rental property was issued for Pedigo on May 1, 2013. He was indicted on October 22, 2013, for defrauding RAC, and was arrested and incarcerated on December 11, 2013. On June 9, 2014, the State retired the October 2013 felony charge, ending the prosecution of the criminal matter. After a preliminary review of this matter, the Circuit Court found in favor of Rent-A-Center, ruling that the parties entered a valid and enforceable arbitration agreement which covered Pedigo’s claims. The Mississippi Supreme Court found however, such a ruling was in error. Though broad, the arbitration agreement did not contemplate Pedigo having to arbitrate his claim that Rent-A-Center maliciously swore out a criminal affidavit, causing his wrongful incarceration. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the previous ruling and remanded the case to the circuit court for further proceedings. View "Pedigo v. Robertson" on Justia Law
Mississippi, Ex Rel. Hood, Attorney General v. Louisville Tire Center, Inc.
In 2007, the State of Mississippi, through the Attorney General’s office, filed suit against Louisville Tire Center, Inc. d/b/a Fair Oil Company (Fair Oil) for violating Mississippi’s price-gouging statute. Fair Oil filed a successful motion for summary judgment on the basis that the price-gouging statute was unconstitutional as written; however, on appeal, the Supreme Court reversed the grant of summary judgment and remanded the case for the Chancery Court to examine Fair Oil’s conduct in light of the statute’s language. After remand, several years passed without activity in the case, and in July 2015, the Chancery Court granted Fair Oil’s motion to dismiss for want of prosecution pursuant to Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b). The State appealed that decision. Finding no error in the dismissal, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Mississippi, Ex Rel. Hood, Attorney General v. Louisville Tire Center, Inc." on Justia Law