Employer in contempt for violating child support orders of non-custodial parent, case Wiggins v. Ke
In April 2015, our firm took on a case of conversion and fraud involving child support funds that were garnished from wages but never remitted to Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS). We represented Charles Wiggins, Sr., a married black man who was also a convicted felon on probation that had been court ordered to pay child support for two children from a prior relationship. Wiggins worked for Patrick Kelly, a white man, owner and manager of Julep Restaurant in Jackson, MS and Mint Restaurant in Ridgeland, MS. In May 2013, MDHS sent withholding order to Patrick Kelly at Mint Restaurant to garnish Wiggin's pay for child support. As of April 2015, no child support paymants had been received by MDHS, causing Wiggins to be in arrears for more than $13,000.00. After addressing Kelly on a number of occasions followed by failed promises to remit payment, Wiggins filed a lawsuit in Hinds County Chancery court citing conversion, negligence, gross negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Kelly filed bankruptcy on Mint Restaurant to stay all creditors and collections against the business. We filed a motion for relief of stay to continue our pursuant in Chancery court. The bankruptcy case was eventually dismissed. Wiggins was denied unemployment benefits after resigning his position with both Mint and Julep and we represented him on the appeal. We were able to reverse the denial and Wiggins was awarded back pay. Kelly then filed another business bankruptcy on Julep and a personal bankruptcy in May 2016, listing Wiggins as a personal creditor. Wiggins again filed an additional lawsuit in bankruptcy court in Kelly's personal filing to prevent discharging the debt owed to Wiggins. Kelly would later testify in Chancery court proceedings in November 2016 that although he acknowledged that the money was taken from Wiggins that the debt was a business debt, not a personal debt therefore he was protected under the corporate veil. Under the advisement of the court, the trial was adjourned and legal memorandum was requested from each party. The Chancery court ruled in favor of Wiggins, awarding him attorney's fees, and $100,000.00 in punitive damages. The lawsuit in bankruptcy court is currently pending and will now proceed forward after the Chancery court ruling has been entered.