City of Gulfport v. Dedeaux Utility Company, Inc.Annotate this Case
In 1996, the City of Gulfport filed an eminent domain complaint against Dedeaux Utility Company. Gulfport did not take physical control of the utility until December 20, 2004, after a jury awarded Dedeaux $3,634,757. Dedeaux appealed that verdict and Gulfport cross-appealed. In the first in a series of cases between these parties, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a new trial, and the second jury awarded Dedeaux $5,131,676 for the taking. Dedeaux again appealed, and Gulfport again cross-appealed. The Supreme Court again reversed and remanded in “Dedeaux II,” and the case was tried a third time, resulting in a jury verdict in favor of Dedeaux totaling $8,063,981. The jury found that the fair market value of Dedeaux as of December 3, 1996, when the complaint was filed, was $7,082,778. It found that the fair market value of tangible assets added to Dedeaux from December 3, 1996, to December 20, 2004, when Gulfport took physical control, was $981,203. Based on payments already made by Gulfport to Dedeaux, the trial court found that Gulfport owed Dedeaux $1,951,102 plus interest on the amount of $7,082,778, and that it owed Dedeaux $728,117 plus interest on the amount of $981,203. Gulfport appealed, and the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court on all issues except interest: the trial court had determined that Mississippi Code Section 75-17-1 applied and mandated that it award eight-percent interest. The Supreme Court determined that Mississippi Code Section 75-17-7 applied, which charged the trial court to set an interest rate. The Court then remanded “for the limited purpose of determining a reasonable rate of interest and issuing an order for payment of that interest.” In the fourth appeal, the only issue was whether the interest rate on the judgment was appropriate. Because the trial court failed to follow the Mississippi Supreme Court’s mandate to set an interest rate, it reversed and remanded for entry of judgment consistent with the evidence presented.