On July 21, 2011, Judge Wingate granted summary judgment in an ERISA action to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi, a Mutual Insurance Company. The Court found that Blue Cross, as the third party administrator to a self-funded ERISA plan, was not a proper party to the action and also found it was not an ERISA fiduciary to this Plan. The Court also held that since the plaintiff had filed a claim for benefits, her claim for breach of fiduciary duty against the Plan and Blue Cross must fail. Under ERISA, a claim for breach of fiduciary duty is barred when one brings a claim for benefits. The Court similarly granted the Electrical Power Association of Mississippi Group Benefits Trust Plan summary judgment finding it did not abuse its discretion in denying benefits under the clear and unambiguous terms of its plan. Riley v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi, et al., No. 3:09cv674 (S.D. Miss. 2011) Opinion in favor of Blue Cross 01224551.PDF
On July 19, 2011, the Mississippi Court of Appeals upheld the summary judgment granted Trustmark by Circuit Court Judge Yerger. The Court affirmed that the Rushings, both attorneys, had waived their claims of negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract and detrimental reliance relating to the construction loan. The doctrine of waiver applies when a borrow has knowledge of the facts allegedly giving rise to the cause of action against the bank and yet renews the loan and continues to reap the benefits of the contract until a later date. Rushing v. Trustmark National Bank, 2010-CA-00037-COA (Miss. Ct. App. 2011) http://www.mssc.state.ms.us/Images/Opinions/CO70900.pdf
Chris Shapley, Robert Gibbs, Trey Jones and Joseph Sclafani maintain dismissal of Koppers Inc. and Beazer East, Inc. before the Mississippi Supreme Court. On April 21, 2011, the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s dismissal of Koppers Inc. and Beazer East, Inc. based on the failure of the plaintiff and her counsel to abide by the trial court’s orders to provide her expert witness opinion on the alleged causal link between her injuries and the alleged contamination. The record revealed a pattern of delay, which included a three year failure to provide sufficient expert witness information. In addition, the Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s award of $10,000 in attorneys’ fees as sanctions finding them reasonable, especially since the litigation had been on-going for four years.
The Brunini team has had two victories in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals [Barnes v. Koppers Inc., 534 F.3d 357 (5th Cir. 2008) and another victory before the Mississippi Supreme Court for Koppers/Beazer East [Angle v. Koppers Inc., 42 So. 3d 1 ( Miss. 2010)].
On May 25, 2011, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the United States District Court of Southern Mississippi’s dismissal of Georgia Gulf Chemicals & Vinyls, LLC. The employee sued Georgia Gulf Chemicals & Vinyls, LLC for wrongful termination asserting he had been fired after he reported that another employee had assaulted him. The District Court, Judge Lee, held that since there was no evidence that the employer authorized or ratified the assault or that it occurred in the scope of employment then the termination was not wrongful as no exception to Mississippi’s employment-at-will doctrine had been demonstrated. The Fifth Circuit found Judge Lee’s reasoning to be accurate and, thus, affirmed in summary fashion. Hall v. Georgia Gulf Chemicals & Vinyls, LLC, No 11-60022 (5th Cir. 2011) and 3:10cv512 (USDC MS 2010).
Received an affirmance from the Mississippi Supreme Court of a Chancellor’s Judgment finding a prescriptive easement and awarding attorneys’ fees to our clients. See Graves v. Dudley Maples, L.P., 950 So.2d 1017 (Miss. 2007).