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A small puzzlement on today’s Mississippi Supreme Court docket

Recall that in September of 2007, the Supreme Court reversed a jury verdict for $1.4M in actual and $35M in punitive damages in an action Patty Stewart filed against the Prudential Insurance Company involving a life insurance policy and bad faith.  The court split, with Easley writing the majority opinion, Randolph concurring in part and in the result (with no opinion), Carlson specially concurring (joined by Smith, Waller, Dickinson, Randolph, and Lamar), and Graves dissenting joined by Diaz.   The majority opinion was about whether there was even an insurance contract at all; the concurrance and dissent were about issues about punitive damages.  Rehearing petitions on the case were denied in December of that year.

On today’s decision list is an order that caught my eye and sent me poking around:

EN BANC
2009-M-00090

    In Re: The Prudential Life Insurance Company of America, Pruco Life Insurance Company, Patty M. Mace Stewart, Sally Stewart Hester, Giles Stewart and Larry Stewart; Hinds Circuit Court 1st District; LC Case #: 251-02-1269-CIV; Ruling Judge: Bobby DeLaughter; Disposition: Third motion for rehearing on the merits filed by counsel for appellees is dismissed as not properly before this Court. Rule 40(a) of the Mississippi Rules of Appellate Procedure clearly states that “[a]fter a motion for rehearing has been denied, no further motion for rehearing shall be filed by any party.” This Court finds that appellees’ third motion for rehearing is prohibited by the rules and is frivolous. The Court further finds that this motion for rehearing filed by counsel for the appellees contains language showing disrespect for this Court. Pursuant to Rule 40(c) of the Mississippi Rules of Appellate Procedure, the Court finds that this motion for rehearing should be stricken. The motion for rehearing filed by counsel for appellees is hereby stricken. Graves, P.J., does not join the order because he is of the opinion that the motion for rehearing should not be stricken. Kitchens and Pierce, JJ., not participating. Order entered.

Couple of odd things jump out– the original cause number of the Stewart case was 2006-C-01105-SCT, so this is obviously a new one.  The ruling judge in Stewart, though, was Winston Kidd, not Bobby DeLaughter (although the lower court number is correct).

There are two orders in the 2009 case, and they make clear that it’s a mandamus proceeding initiated by the court in response to a filing by the administrative office of the courts relating to taxation of costs in the Stewart case, which Judge Kidd had apparently not done.    Here’s the 1st order (April 15th) and here’s the 2nd order (April 17th)  Looking at the docket in the cases, it’s clear that the “third motion for a rehearing” that contains the language disrespectful to the court is docketed as a “response.”

But I’m curious what it is that’s going on here, and what language showing disrespect was struck.  For those interested, the dockets of the two cases are below the fold.  More about the rest of the decisions later.

On the docket in 2006-01105, there are these entries after the denial of rehearing from December of 2006:

12/20/2007 Mandate Issued
2/29/2008 Motion # 2008 – 616 Motion for Rehearing and to Retax Costs
3/10/2008 Response filed Motion # 2008 – 616
6/5/2008 Order Entered Motion # 2008 – 616
2/13/2009 Motion # 2009 – 372 Response to Application for Writ of Mandamus and Motion for Rehearing
2/13/2009 Motion # 2009 – 372 Response to Application for Writ of Mandamus and Motion for Rehearing
2/18/2009 Response filed Motion # 2009 – 372
2/26/2009 Response filed Motion # 2009 – 372
4/17/2009 Order Entered Motion # 2009 – 372

On the docket in 2009-00090, there are these entries

1/16/2009 Motion # 2009 – 139 Notice to the Office of the Supreme Court Clerk Pursuant to M.R.A.P. 15
2/13/2009 Motion # 2009 – 372 Response to Application for Writ of Mandamus and Motion for Rehearing
2/13/2009 Response filed Motion # 2009 – 139
2/18/2009 Response filed Motion # 2009 – 372
2/26/2009 Response filed Motion # 2009 – 372
4/15/2009 Order Entered Motion # 2009 – 139
4/15/2009 Order Entered Motion # 2009 – 139 – Vacated; See order entered 04/17/09
M # 2009-139
4/17/2009 Order Entered Motion # 2009 – 372
M # 2009 – 372
4/21/2009 Response filed Motion # 2009 – 139

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