Winfield in court, wins wiggle time on paycheck

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 29, 2010

In a temporary win for Vicksburg Mayor Paul Winfield, Hinds County Judge Houston Patton on Thursday delayed garnishment of the mayor’s paycheck for a hospital debt a collection agency claims the mayor owes.

“The court gave Mr. Winfield’s attorney 30 days to answer the complaints in the lawsuit, and the judgment will be held until that matter is cleared up,” Patton said following a hearing. “Also, the insurance company will be contacted to see what the status of the claim is. That will also be done in the next 30 days.”

A court date was not set for continuation of the hearing, Patton said. Winfield, an attorney, had filed a motion in December requesting the garnishment and an earlier ruling against him be set aside. The mayor did not return calls for a comment Thursday. The mayor had represented himself in the case until Thursday, when he was represented by Vicksburg attorney Travis T. Vance Jr.

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Advanced Recovery Systems Inc. is trying to collect $3,557.34 from Winfield for a hospital bill, plus attorney’s fees of $1,185 and court costs. The suit also states interest on the debt is accruing at a rate of $1.08 per day. Advanced Recovery Systems bought the debt from St. Dominic-Jackson Memorial Hospital last June. Winfield, who took office in June, has said the St. Dominic accusations stem from his insurer’s refusal to pay charges he incurred after a visit to the hospital on July 5, 2006.

Advanced Recovery Systems originally filed suit against Winfield in August. It won a default judgment in November after Winfield “failed to plead or otherwise defend” the charges, reads the ruling signed by Patton.

On Dec. 15, Patton ordered the city clerk’s office to withhold portions of Winfield’s salary and make payments to Stephen E. Gardner, a Jackson attorney who represents Advanced, each month until the amount of the judgment is satisfied. Eight days later, the mayor filed his motion to set aside the garnishment order and default judgment.

Separately, a company Winfield is a partner in, Superior Oil & Supply, is also being sued for an outstanding debt. Superior has failed to pay $5,439.07 for petroleum products that it ordered from Dutch Lubricants LLC from September 2008 to February 2009, according to a lawsuit filed by Dutch on Dec. 15 in Warren County Circuit Court. In the suit, Dutch Lubricants claims Winfield wrote the company a bad check for the amount owed in April 2009. Winfield filed a response denying the claims on Jan. 15.

Superior Oil & Supply is the subject of four lien notices enrolled in Warren County Circuit Court by the Mississippi Tax Commission. The liens indicate the firm owes a combined $4,576.71 on sales taxes to the state. Enrolled last September and October, the liens have yet to be satisfied, circuit court records show. They cover payments due for periods from October 2008 to February 2009. Winfield is listed as Superior’s manager in documents filed with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office.

Contact Steve Sanoski at