Vicksburg Chemical Company (VCC) filed for bankruptcy in 2002. Included in its bankruptcy estate was over 500 acres of real property, a portion of which was contaminated. Pursuant to an agreed order, the bankruptcy court allowed VCC to abandon the property and allowed the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to choose the purchaser. Without the aid of any guidelines or statutory law regarding this process, MDEQ, at the suggestion of the Attorney General's Office (AG), published a Request for Proposals (RFP) to identify interested parties capable of removing the contamination. The plaintiff, Pacific Chlorine, Inc. (PCI), was one of several companies to submit a proposal. MDEQ did not select PCI's proposal, but instead selected Harcros Chemicals, Inc. (Harcros), a company which worked closely with the City of Vicksburg (the City) on its proposal. Aggrieved, PCI sued MDEQ and the City. PCI settled with the City. Following a bench trial, the trial court rendered a judgment against MDEQ. MDEQ appealed to the Supreme Court, raising six assignments of error that fall into three categories: whether PCI is required to exhaust its administrative remedies, whether the trial court erred by denying MDEQ's motion to dismiss/motion for summary judgment, and whether MDEQ is immune from suit under the Mississippi Tort Claims Act (MTCA). This case presented an issue of first impression, the issue being whether MDEQ acted within the scope of its authority when assisting a bankruptcy court with finding a purchaser for contaminated land. The Court found that it was. View "Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality v. Pacific Chlorine, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Bankruptcy, Constitutional Law, Environmental Law, Government & Administrative Law, Mississippi Supreme Court
After Hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast in August 2005, W. C. Fore entered into a contract with Harrison County, Mississippi, to remove the large amount of debris that was left behind. The Mississippi State Tax Commission (MSTC) then assessed a fee of $1.00 per ton of debris removed. Fore appealed the assessment to the MSTC Board of Review, claiming that the fee did not apply to emergency waste removal. The Board of Review upheld the assessment. Fore appealed the Board of Review’s decision to the MSTC Full Commission, which also affirmed the assessment. Fore then appealed to the Harrison County Chancery Court, First Judicial District. The chancery court upheld the assessment, and Fore appealed to the Supreme Court. Finding that the MSTC's and chancery court's findings were supported by substantial evidence and that there was no misapprehension of the law, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "W. C. Fore, Inc. v. Miss. Dept. of Revenue" on Justia Law
Appellant Shirley Collins filed suit against Appellees-Defendants Koppers, Inc. and several others, alleging she was injured as a result of environmental contamination caused by a wood-treatment facility. The Defendants filed a motion to dismiss after Collins repeatedly failed to comply with a court order to provide expert opinions that causally linked her injuries to the alleged contamination. The trial court granted the Defendantsâ motion to dismiss and awarded them attorneyâs fees. On appeal, Appellant argued that the trial court abused its discretion when it did not grant her enough time to respond to Defendantsâ discovery requests. âIt is obvious that the trial judge exercised considerable patience and restraint in dealing with the delays caused by [Appellantâs] counsel. The record is replete with examples of instances of the failure of [Appellantâs] counsel to abide by the orders of the trial court.â Finding no abuse of discretion, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial courtâs ruling.