Aldridge update: Judge delays extra-damages hearing until decision on Brian Aldridge

By Patsy R. Brumfield / Daily Journal

10:30 POST
By Patsy R. Brumfield
Daily Journal

PONTOTOC – A judge’s decision on a punitive damages hearing and its defendants will wait until later this week in the estate recovery case of Tupeloan Florence Aldridge.

Late this morning, Chancellor Mike Malski heard agreement from all sides’ attorneys that he should decide whether state Rep. Brian Aldridge will be brought back into the matter as it relates to punitive damages.

Brian’s aunt, Florence, sued his parents, his Tupelo charity and him over her lost estate.

Here is what occurred briefly before Malski recessed the hearing. Below it are earlier segments of the proceedings:

10:16 – Rhett Russell returns to the courtroom to inform Florence Aldridge about decisions made with Moffett, Hudson.
10:25 – Malski returns to bench. Hudson, Moffett return to courtroom.
JUDGE – First matter, motion for additional findings of fact and to amend the judgment based on those findings. Russell, desire additional proof?
RHETT – No sir.
JUDGE – Copy of motion and Moffett’s response. Hudson, do you need more time?
HUDSON – No sir.
JUDGE – Gentlemen, agree that until such time as court rules on whether liability will be imposed on Brian Aldridge, a hearing with respect to punitive damages is inappropriate?
RHETT – Believe we will be duplicating hearings.
JUDGE – AGREE? HUDSON AND MOFFETT, yes
Court will take motion, amend under advisement. Will try to have a decision out by Friday of this week or by Monday. Then court can proceed with punitive damage hearing. Clearly will be one. Question is whether Brian will be added or not.
Hope this isn’t an inconvenience to parties, attorneys. But after thinking about it, can’t proceed until we know if Brian Aldridge will be added to the lawsuit.
10:29 – Court recessed.
• • •
9:30 POST
PONTOTOC – Chancellor Michael Malski asked attorneys this morning to consider whether he should go ahead with a hearing about additional damages against Louis and Janice Aldridge, a Tupelo charity and possibly the Aldridge’s legislator-son Brian.
(Below is a running account of Tuesday’s hearing in Pontotoc to consider additional damages against Louis and Janice Aldridge. Please excuse the typos and glitches likely as I type as fast as I can.)
• • •
9:02 a.m. – Judge enters courtroom in Pontotoc County. (Original lawsuit was heard across two different hearings in Lee and Itawamba counties, where Malski held court.)
Judge to pass case for the moment, says he’s got some remarks to make about it in a few minutes. (Takes up other matters first.)
9:08 – Ready to deal with Aldridge case.
Judge – Want you to think about this issue. Actually two matters set for today. One, is result of having found liability on part of Louis’ wife and TBAAM.
After liability established, separate hearing must be set for issue of punitive damages. Also set a motion to reconsider, filed by Florence with respect to Brian Aldridge. Matter than concerns me is that if I address issue of Brian’s liability, then I question whether … that can’t go forward with hearing on punitive damages against Louis, Janice and charity.
In other words, if I establish liability on Brian, he ought to have an opportunity to prepare for punitive damages case. Don’t want to take evidence two times. But could go forward with respect to charity and Louis/Janice. Seems not very efficient to do that, if go forward on Brian.
Ask you to talk to your clients about that.
Further issue, Brian is in Legislative session. He has an immunity from a hearing at this time. It’s constitutional. Consider these things to talk among yourselves. No problem going forward but don’t want to repeat it later, if I establish liability on behalf of Brian Aldridge.
Understand, attorneys? Yes.
RHETT – Motion also is to increase liability.
JUDGE – I understand. Court will be in recess. (9:12 a.m.)
• • •

BEFORE HEARING TODAY
PONTOTOC – Chancellor Michael Malski will consider whether a widow whose estate was looted by her brother-in-law will pay additional penalties for her wrong.
Today, lawyers for Florence Aldridge in January asked the chancery court to boost damages against her brother-in-law, Louis Aldridge, and his wife, Janice, of Tupelo and Touched By An Angel Ministries Inc.
In 2008, Florence filed her lawsuit against Louis Aldridge and Janice when she discovered all her assets were gone.
Three years before, she’d granted her power of attorney to Louis after the death of her husband, Louis’ brother.
Jan. 12, Chancellor Michael Malski ordered the Aldridges to repay Florence $552,000 and his former charity, Touched By An Angel Ministries Inc. to come up with the $140,000 Louis directed to it while he had her power of attorney.
After 2 1/2 days of testimony and evidence Malski released Louis’ son, state Rep. Brian Aldridge, who was the charity’s chief executive officer, from responsibility. But he chided him for his lack of oversight of the charity which his father controlled until recently.

• Come back for updates. Read more in Wednesday’s Daily Journal.