Justia Mississippi Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure
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The crux of this interlocutory appeal was whether Plaintiffs, complaining of personal injury and property damage as a result of the alleged improper use of an oil-disposal well, had to exhaust their administrative remedies before the Mississippi State Oil and Gas Board (MSOGB) prior to proceeding on their common-law claims in the circuit court. Because the Mississippi Supreme Court determined the MSOGB could provide no adequate remedy for the Baucums’ personal-injury and property-damage claims, the Baucums were not required to exhaust administrative remedies before proceeding in the circuit court. View "Petro Harvester Oil & Gas Co., LLC, et al. v. Baucum" on Justia Law

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Richard and Stacy Andreacchio invoked Mississippi Code Section 23-15-951 (Rev. 2018), not to challenge the determination that the Republican candidate, Kassie Coleman, received more legal votes than her Democrat opponent in the November 2019 election for district attorney of the Tenth Circuit District. The Andreacchios conceded Coleman won her election. However, they contended Coleman was not qualified to run in the first place. The Mississippi Supreme Court concluded the trial court did not err in dismissing the Andreacchios complaint: the mechanism to challenge a candidate who was qualified to run for his or her political party’s nomination was provided in Mississippi Code Section 23-15-961 (Rev. 2018). View "Andreacchio v. Coleman" on Justia Law

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Stacie Murray was driving home from work in the northbound lane on Highway 35 in Scott County, Mississippi. Kevin Parker, while in the course and scope of his employment with James Gray d/b/a Gray Trucking (Gray), was driving a fully loaded log truck in the southbound lane. The two vehicles collided. Murray sued Parker and Gray alleging she suffered personal injuries and property damage as a result of Parker’s negligence. The issue this case presented for the Mississippi Supreme Court's review centered on whether allowing cross-examination of an expert witness with the accident report and a judicial opinion from another case amounted to reversible error. The Court also considered whether cumulative error required a new trial. James Hannah testified for Murray as an expert in accident reconstruction. Hannah testified that he visited the accident scene about two months after the accident and found a “gouge mark” in the highway that, in his opinion, indicated the area of impact. Hannah admitted that the highway patrolman who investigated the wreck, Trooper Greg Lucas, did not find or photograph a gouge mark. Hannah also admitted that he did not know whether the gouge mark was actually caused by the collision. Gray and Parker filed a pretrial motion to exclude Hannah’s testimony and opinions regarding the alleged gouge mark. They argued that Hannah’s testimony was based on “mere speculation” and was neither relevant nor reliable. But the trial court denied the motion and allowed Hannah to testify about the gouge mark. Over Murray’s objections, defense counsel cross-examined Hannah regarding the Uniform Crash Report (UCR) (i.e., the accident report) that Trooper Lucas prepared after the accident. The jury returned a nine-to-three verdict in favor of Gray and Parker. Murray filed a motion for a new trial, which the trial court denied. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case for a new trial. The Supreme Court found the Court of Appeals properly concluded that “[b]ecause Trooper Lucas was not qualified as an expert in accident reconstruction, his opinions on the paths of the subject vehicles and fault did not satisfy Rule 803(8)’s trustworthiness requirement. Accordingly, the trial court abused its discretion by admitting the UCR’s narrative and diagram.” Further, the Court of Appeal properly concluded the trial court abused its discretion by allowing the cross-examination of Hannah because “it had no relevance to the present case and yet created a risk of unfair prejudice, misleading the jury, and confusing the issues.” The Court found Murray was entitled to a new trial. View "Murray v. James Gray d/b/a Gray Trucking" on Justia Law

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Carolyn Bowen sued Cottage Grove Nursing Home for wrongful death and medical negligence on behalf of her husband, Guy Bowen. Guy Bowen had been a resident of Cottage Grove since June 2016. In May 2017, Guy was diagnosed with prostate cancer that had metastasized into his organs and bones. In October 2017, Guy fell in the shower at Cottage Grove and sustained multiple fractures. The attending radiologist noted that the fractures were likely pathologic. Guy was transferred to a rehabilitation facility and then to Pleasant Hill Nursing Home. Guy did not return to Cottage Grove. On March 18, 2018, Guy presented to the emergency department at UMMC with various pain. A CT scan showed diffuse metastatic disease through his liver and widespread osseous disease in his bones. Guy died five days later. Carolyn in her suit, Carolyn claimed that Guy’s fall at Cottage Grove, in which he sustained multiple fractures, was the cause of Guy’s death five months later. Cottage Grove filed a summary-judgment motion for Carolyn’s failure to produce medical-expert testimony. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined the trial court erred by denying Cottage Grove’s summary-judgment motion. "Cottage Grove met its summary-judgment burden by showing that Carolyn had failed to produce sworn expert testimony establishing a prima facie case of medical negligence." View "Cottage Grove Nursing Home, L.P. v. Bowen" on Justia Law

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A Mississippi chancery court order set aside the probate of a will after the original was lost. On appeal, Michael Taylor, the sole beneficiary under the lost will, contended that the chancellor erred by applying the presumption that the testatrix had destroyed the will. “Without the entry of a Rule 54(b) certificate, a trial court order which disposes of less than all of the claims against all of the parties in a multiple party or multiple claim action, is interlocutory.” The Mississippi Supreme Court determined the order appealed from was not a final judgment, thus it lacked jurisdiction to consider Taylor's appeal. The appeal was dismissed. View "Taylor v. Tolbert" on Justia Law

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Jim Harreld and Karl Banks ran for the position of District 4 Supervisor in Madison County, Mississippi. Banks won the November 5, 2019 election by fifty-seven votes. The Madison County Election Commission certified Banks as the winner of the election. Harreld challenged the election and asked the trial court to order a special election or to declare him the winner of the November election. The Madison County Circuit Court affirmed the election as certified. Harreld appealed. Finding no reversible error in the circuit court's order, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Harreld v. Banks" on Justia Law

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In September 2019, Robert McGowen filed a complaint in circuit court alleging that he had been sexually abused by a priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in 1984 and 1985 when McGowen was twelve to thirteen years old. According to McGowen, he repressed the memories until December 2018. Sacred Heart Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Biloxi answered the complaint and moved to dismiss based on the expiration of the statute of limitations in Mississippi Code Section 15-1-49. In April 2020, the circuit court entered an order dismissing the complaint without prejudice. McGowen appealed. Accepting the allegations in the complaint as true, the Mississippi Supreme Court concluded the trial court erred by finding that McGowen failed to state a claim. "Based on the allegations, we cannot agree that there is no set of facts upon which McGowan could recover; the decision of the circuit court is reversed and remanded." View "McGowen v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Biloxi" on Justia Law

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Jean Hardin filed a claim with Farm Bureau, her homeowner’s insurance carrier, following an alleged sudden collapse in the floor of her home. After Farm Bureau denied the claim, Hardin sued Farm Bureau for specific performance, breach of contract, fraud, misrepresentation, damages, emotional harm and upset, depression, attorneys’ fees, costs of litigation, and punitive damages related to Farm Bureau’s denial of coverage for damage to Hardin’s home. Farm Bureau filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court denied. Farm Bureau sought, and the Mississippi Supreme Court granted, interlocutory appeal. The Court reversed, finding the trial court erred in denying Farm Bureau’s motion for summary judgment because Hardin demonstrated proof that the water damage to her home was caused by the failure of the Town of Leakesville to maintain the ditch beside her home. Thus, because Hardin’s damages were not covered under the policy, Farm Bureau was entitled to summary judgment. View "Mississippi Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company v. Hardin" on Justia Law

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Mississippi Baptist Medical Center (MBMC) sought, and the Mississippi Supreme Court granted interlocutory appeal challenging a circuit court's denial of its motion for summary judgment. Mississippi Baptist Health System (MBHS) also appealed the circuit court’s order granting summary judgment in its favor, claiming that the circuit court erred by granting the judgment without prejudice instead of with prejudice. In 2016, Roosevelt Ard arrived at the emergency room at MBMC complaining of chest pain and leg numbness after earlier undergoing an outpatient cardiac stress test. Ard was checked by two nurses and seen by an emergency room physician, Dr. William Dawson, an emergency-medicine physician employed by Mississippi Physicians, LLP. Dr. Dawson ordered one shot of Dilaudid for Ard’s pain. He then ordered a chest X-ray and EKG, which were both normal, ruling out cardiovascular issues. Dr. Dawson diagnosed Ard with acute back strain and discharged him with a prescription for oral pain relief and muscle relaxants. Eight hours after being discharged, Ard became unresponsive at home and was rushed to the emergency room at University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) via ambulance, where he was pronounced dead after cardiac arrest. Ard’s autopsy report showed that the cause of death was aortic dissection. Plaintiffs, Ard's family, filed a complaint against MBMC, MBHS, Dr. Dawson, and Mississippi Physicians, arguing: (1) MBMC was vicariously liable for the medical care rendered by Dr. Dawson at MBMC’s emergency department; and (2) MBMC was vicariously liable for the allegedly negligent care provided by its nursing employees in the emergency department. After the Plaintiffs did not answer MBMC and Dr. Dawson’s propounded discovery for two years, MBMC filed a motion for summary judgment. MBMC claimed it was not vicariously liable and that negligence could not have proximately caused Ard’s injuries. The Mississippi Supreme Court found that the circuit erred by denying MBMC’s motion for summary judgment since the Plaintiffs failed to establish the element of causation in their medical-malpractice claim against MBMC. The Court also found that the circuit court erred by not dismissing the Plaintiffs’ claims against MBHS with prejudice. View "Mississippi Baptist Health Systems Inc. et al. v. Harris" on Justia Law

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Attorney Malcolm Murphy requested his client, Kenneth Borries, sign three promissory notes for legal services rendered. After Borries failed to pay the notes, Murphy filed suit. Borries appealed a trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Murphy. Because Borries did not deny voluntarily signing the promissory notes and because the notes contained clear and unambiguous terms, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Murphy. View "Borries v. Murphy" on Justia Law