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Bender v. North Meridian Mobile Home Park

636 So.2d 385 (1994)

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Bender v. North Meridian Mobile Home Park

Mississippi Supreme Court

636 So.2d 385 (1994)

Facts

Richard Bender (plaintiff) leased a mobile home from North Meridian Mobile Home Park (Meridian) (defendant). Bender signed a six-month lease for $195 per month, but the lease did not specify when the rent would be due each month. Bender paid his rent at various times but was typically behind on his rent. About five months after beginning the lease, Bender was almost a month’s rent in arrears, and Meridian management decided to evict him. The manager locked Bender out of his mobile home and refused to allow him to retrieve his personal belongings, except for some medication and papers. Meridian kept Bender’s property, stored it, and later sold his belongings for a total of $35. Bender sued Meridian for wrongful eviction and for compensation for his personal property. At trial, there was disputed testimony over whether Meridian had provided any notice of eviction to Bender prior to locking him out of his mobile home, but the evidence did establish that Meridian failed to follow the state’s statutory process for evicting tenants. Meridian claimed that it had relied instead on a landlord’s statutory right to claim a lien on a tenant’s personal property. The trial court agreed with Meridian on this theory of support for the eviction and found the eviction was lawful. The court did award Bender damages for Meridian’s conversion of his personal property but awarded him only the amount that he still owed Meridian for past-due rent. Bender appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Pittman, J.)

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