Court returns insurance case, affirms property one

By Patsy R. Brumfield
Daily Journal

An insurance settlement case will return to Lee County, the Mississippi Court of Appeals agreed Tuesday.

In a 9-0 vote, the court reversed a decision by Circuit Judge James L. Roberts Jr. and ordered it back for a second look.

National Western Life Insurance Co. asked the circuit court to enforce a settlement agreement with Creative Marketing International Corp. and Charlene Dunn. Dunn asked to enforce agreements she believed were in force.

The judge granted Dunn’s motion and entered a judgment against National Western, which then appealed saying he erred in denying its motion.

The case arose from Dunn’s purchase of multiple insurance policies, including two annuities sold on behalf of National Western. She claimed she understood them to be 10-year annuities with a low surrender charge, but they actually were 17-year annuities with a 25 percent charge for the first three to seven years.

She filed several complaints, but National Western was included in the second. It asked the circuit court to rule in its favor without a trial.
Roberts held a hearing on the issue but set a trial date instead of ruling on the pending motion. Later he ordered National Western, CMI and Dunn to mediation.

When Dunn discovered her annuity was worth considerably more than she agreed to settle, her attorney protested. NM argued no representation was made as to the amount due. She also argued that she should be allowed to retain the annuities.

Various other arguments were made, then Roberts granted Dunn’s motion after a hearing.

In a decision written by Judge Tyree Irving, the court said questions remain for the circuit court to resolve about the settlement amount.

A second COA ruling upheld a property decision in Lafayette County Chancery Court by Judge Glenn Alderson.

The appeals court agreed that Jerry Mize was wrong to claim his property extended south of County Road 206 and to act “maliciously” to sue and seek legal fees and damages.

The lawsuit came from a dispute in 2007 when Westbrook wanted to develop a subdivision. He sued Kay and Jimmy Lewis Jr., Jimmie Waller and Craig Merrill who owned adjacent property.

They counter-sued him and produced a survey of the road.

The chancellor agreed their survey was correct and that the defendants owned the property to the middle of the road for a long time. He also ordered Mize to pay about $38,000 in damages and attorneys fees to them.

The appeals court said Alderson did not have to remove himself from the case because he worked on a deed for land nearby.

The losing sides on these cases may yet appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com