Supreme Court to Hear Equity Case
By The Associated Press
JACKSON — The Mississippi Supreme Court will hear a civil dispute between a former same-sex couple.
Mona Cates and Elizabeth Swain split in March 2006 after nearly six years together. Swain sued Cates seeking reimbursement for investments made in property during their partnership, according to court documents.
The case was heard by the Tate County Chancery Court, which ruled partially in Swain’s favor and awarded her $44,995 in damages. The issue was appealed to the Mississippi Court of Appeal, which reversed the lower court’s ruling last April.
The Supreme Court last November agreed to hear the case.
Court spokeswoman Beverly Kraft tells The Clarion-Ledger (http://on.thec-l.com/W2ZNYV) that the Supreme Court has not yet scheduled oral arguments in the case. The case is not on the court’s January-February docket.
According to court documents, Cates and Swain met in 2000 and by the end of the year had moved in together in a home Swain purchased in Pensacola, Fla.
Cates provided earnest money, made the sole contributions to the couple’s joint checking account and paid $11,000 to trade in Swain’s vehicle for another, documents show.
Meanwhile, Swain paid the mortgage on the Florida home, and the couple jointly purchased other vehicles and made improvements to the home, the records show.
The house was sold — with Swain receiving about $32,000 in equity — when the couple moved to Seattle in 2003, according to the court documents. Cates then purchased a home for $200,000, with Swain giving her a check for $34,000 representing the equity from her Florida home.
And two years later, the couple relocated to Cates’ native Mississippi, where Cates purchased a $350,000 home. Swain paid $5,000 in closing costs and $4,449 to carpet the home, records showed.
The relationship dissolved the following year, and Swain sued Cates, alleging they were cohabitants and partners in several joint ventures, the Appeals Court records stated.
During the chancery court trial, Cates argued the requested relief violated the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, but the judge found the issue before him was an issue of equity. Mississippi voters in 2004 passing a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages.
While the chancery court denied parts of Swain’s claims, the court ruled she should be able to recoup the equity from her Florida home, the closing costs from the Tate County home and the cost of carpeting the same house.
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