Court rules City of Picayune owes Landry Lewis Germany $210,000
Fifteenth Circuit Court Judge Anthony A. Mozingo has filed his ruling in the case of the City of Picayune vs Landry Lewis Germany Architects (LLG).
Judge Mozingo has ruled that the City of Picayune owes LLG a sum of $210,000.00 for damages and costs associated with a mistrial that was declared on April 12, 2021. The City was found negligent for not alerting the Court that Lozenzo Breland, the son of Picayune City Councilman Larry Breland, was a member of the jury. In that trial, court administration was notified during closing arguments of the presence of the younger Breland on the jury. Throughout the trial, the City of Picayune was aware Lorenzo Breland was a juror, but allowed the trial to continue until the Court was made aware of the son of the Councilman’s presence on the jury.
Based on the outcome of that trial, LLG sued the city for negligence, alleging the city should have disclosed Lorenzo Breland’s tie to Larry Breland. Then City Manager (now Mayor), Jim Luke and councilman Breland claimed they told their counsel of the relationship.
A counterclaim bench trail was held on April 13, 2022, where a judgment issued by Judge Mozingo found negligence on the part of the City of Picayune for not disclosing the fact that Breland’s son was on the jury during the original trial held on April 12, 2021.
The City of Picayune had argued that it is inappropriate for the Court to award LLG attorney fees. In his ruling, Judge Monzingo sited precedence in Mississippi Tort Claims Act (MTCA) concerning attorney fees not being awarded.
Monzingo’s ruling stated “The Court, however, finds the damages it awards LLG are not related to the MTCA claim. Rather, the damages are related to LLG’s representation during the original trial of this matter. Those fees (to avoid confusion), the Court will use the term “trial fees”) were the proximate result of Picayune’s negligence. LLG incurred these trial fees before it ever made its MTCA claim.”
The Court document states “Had Picayune notified the Court and LLG that Lorenzo Breland was the son of a City Council member, the Court would have struck Breland from the jury of LLG would have had the opportunity to waive any conflict. The negligent failure to give notice was the proximate cause of LLG incurring the trial fees. The trial fees were a consequence of the negligence just as medical expenses in negligence case involving bodily injury.“ The fees awarded were $59,516.75.
The Court also stated that there are other damages for which iit could not derive an exact value, but which are foreseeable as a logical and reasonable result of Picayune’s negligence. The Court found it appropriate to include such damages in its judgement. The Court stated that if a judgement would have been reached in the first trial, LLG could have put closure to the claim, LLG had to continue to explain the basis for its claims and Picayune’s counterclaims for licensure purposes and to potential clients. The Court awarded LLG $10,000 for such damages.
In regards to LLG’s reputation and goodwill, the Court stated LLG will never know the amount of revenue lost in projects from design contracts it would have obtained if not for the risk represented by hiring an architecture firm currently engaged in complex litigation.
According to LLG, just the City Hall Annex project (which was the basis of this litigation) represented at least $150,000 in fees which LLG considered a “relatively minor job”. The Court found it reasonable that LLG lost at least one such relatively minor job due to Picayune, and awarded damages in the amount of $140,483.25.
Reports show the City of Picayune had spent approximately $280,000 dollars on legal fees for the ongoing case.