As reported in the Sea Coast Echo, a Hancock County jury rendered a verdict of $644,000 on August 18, 2014 in Murphy vs. State of Mississippi. The verdict was based on the jury’s conclusion that the Secretary of State took the Murphy’s property without compensation.

Before Katrina, the plaintiffs used and maintained their sand beach in downtown Bay St. Louis in connection with their restaurant. After Katrina, the State claimed that a portion of the property was in tidelands and leased it to the City for a new municipal pier.

The issues at trial were how much property the Murphys owned and how much it was worth. The jury sided with the Murphys and rendered a verdict of $644,000 of the $800,000  requested.

Robert Quimby and Paul Scott with Smith Phillips in Hernando represented the plaintiffs. Hugh Keating with Dukes Dukes and Keating in Gulfport represented the Secretary of State.

Donald Rafferty of Gulfport represented the City, which won at trial. Judge Lisa Dodson presided in the case.

My Take:

Hancock County is usually one of the most conservative venues in Mississippi. But lookout if the case has anything to do with Katrina. There was also a $1.17 million verdict in the county in a Katrina bad faith case in 2010.

I recommend that plaintiff’s attorneys in Hancock County personal injury cases start their openings with: “You see, it all started when the defendant screwed over my client after Katrina.”

Finally, it’s worth noting that Judge Dodson tends to fly under the radar, but gets rave reviews from attorneys who practice in her court.