Justia Mississippi Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Injury Law
Smith v. Union Carbide Corporation f/k/a Union Carbide Plastics & Chemicals Company, Inc.
A jury awarded Elsie Smith more than three million dollars in damages after an asbestos-related wrongful death trial in 2009, but the trial judge granted the defendants’ motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (“JNOV”). Elsie appealed, and the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. Following remand, the trial judge again entered a JNOV, and Elsie appealed that ruling. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded. The trial judge reaffirmed JNOV for the sole reason that Elsie presented insufficient evidence of Larry (her husband’s) exposure to the defendants’ asbestos products. But the Court found that Smith did present sufficient evidence to make the exposure issue a question for the jury. And because the trial judge did not address any of the other arguments that the defendants reasserted after the Court’s prior ruling, it declined to address any of the other issues raised in the briefing and in the defendants’ cross-appeals. View "Smith v. Union Carbide Corporation f/k/a Union Carbide Plastics & Chemicals Company, Inc." on Justia Law
Kenney v. Foremost Insurance Co.
Sharel Kenney appealed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of USAA Casualty Insurance Company (USAA-CIC) and Foremost Insurance Company (Foremost). Kenney purchased a motorcycle in Slidell, Louisiana. Kenney, a Louisiana resident, completed a Louisiana Motorcycle Insurance Application with Foremost, which included an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage Form (“UMBI Form”). Pursuant to the Form, Kenney elected not to purchase UMBI coverage. Following receipt of the application and the UMBI Form, Foremost issued a policy to Kenney. Daniel Steilberg, Kenney’s fiancé, was listed as an operator on the insurance policy. While riding the motorcycle, Kenney and Steilberg were involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist on Highway I-90 in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. After the accident, Kenney made claims for uninsured-motorist coverage under three separate policies. Kenney did receive payments from Foremost representing the actual cash value for property damage to the motorcycle. Kenney also filed a claim with USAA-CIC, the insurer for Kenney’s Dodge Charger, but she was denied payment for medical expenses and uninsured/underinsured-motorist coverage. After the denials of coverage, Kenney filed suit against the uninsured motorise, Foremost, USAA-CIC and Steilberg, Finding that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment as to Foremost but not as to USAA-CIC, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court in part and reversed and remanded in part. View "Kenney v. Foremost Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Wesley Health System, LLC v. Estate of Jackie Katherine Love
Edward Love filed a complaint against Wesley Health System, LLC (“Wesley”) alleging negligence, medical malpractice, and wrongful death of his wife, Jackie Katherine Love. A default judgment was entered against Wesley. The trial court denied Wesley’s motion to set aside the default judgment and entered a final judgment against Wesley awarding Love $1,784,715.18 in compensatory and punitive damages and attorney’s fees. Because the trial court erred by prohibiting Wesley from cross examining the process server on the disputed issue of whether process was served upon Wesley’s registered agent, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and remanded. Although the trial court’s prohibition of cross examination was reversible error and dispostive to the Supreme Court's decision, it further held that the trial court also erred by failing to apply the three-part balancing test articulated in "Woodruff v. Thames," (143 So. 3d 546, 552 (Miss. 2014)). View "Wesley Health System, LLC v. Estate of Jackie Katherine Love" on Justia Law
McKean v. Yates Engineering Corp.
During the construction of Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center’s (“ARMC”) expansion, scaffolding built by W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Company collapsed, injuring plaintiffs David McKean, Francesco Medina, Donald Arrington, and Wayne Robertson. The trial court granted summary judgment and dismissed plaintiffs’ claims against all defendants. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decisions of the trial court. Although the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals’ decision to affirm the trial court, it nevertheless granted certiorari to clarify two issues: (1) whether the Mississippi Supreme Court adopted the seven-factor test used in "Hanna v. Huer, Johns Neel, Rivers, & Webb," (662 P.2d 243 (Kan. 1983) superceded by statute, as recognized in "Edwards v. Anderson Engineering, Inc.," (166 P.3d 1047 (Kan. 2007)), to determine whether an architect’s supervisory powers go beyond the provisions of the contract; and (2) to clarify the Court’s position on the effect of an “undocumented immigrant” status on recovery for workplace injuries. View "McKean v. Yates Engineering Corp." on Justia Law
Griffith v. Entergy Mississippi, Inc.
Walter Griffith, Jr., a licensed master electrician, was critically injured while attempting to attach a ten-foot piece of metal conduit to an electrical pole owned by Entergy Mississippi, Inc. (“Entergy”). Griffith later filed a complaint against Entergy, alleging grossly negligent and willful conduct and requesting compensatory and punitive damages. The trial judge ultimately granted Entergy’s motion for summary judgment, and Griffith appealed to the Supreme Court, raising three alleged errors by the trial court in its grant of summary judgment to Entergy. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Griffith v. Entergy Mississippi, Inc." on Justia Law
Amfed National Insurance Co. v. NTC Transportation, Inc.
An employee of NTC Transportation, Inc. (“NTC”) filed petitions with the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission (“the Commission”), claiming he had suffered compensable work-related injuries on two occasions. AmFed National Insurance Co. (“Amfed”), believing NTC’s workers’ compensation coverage to have lapsed due to NTC’s failure to timely pay the premium, responded and denied both liability and coverage as to the latter injury. AmFed’s denial of coverage was litigated and culminated in a judgment rendered in NTC’s favor. Based on the applicable law and particular facts of this case, the Supreme Court found that NTC had no insurance coverage with AmFed in effect at the time of the relevant injury. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded. View "Amfed National Insurance Co. v. NTC Transportation, Inc." on Justia Law
Crider v. DeSoto County Convention & Visitors Bureau
While visiting the DeSoto County Civic Center, Cynthia Crider stepped in a hole that was obscured by grass. She was attending a high-school graduation at the Civic Center, operated by the DeSoto County Convention and Visitors Bureau. At the ceremony’s conclusion, Crider exited the Civic Center and proceeded across a grassy area to her car. As she crossed, Crider stepped in a hole obscured by overgrown grass. She fell and broke her ankle. Crider sued the Bureau, alleging that it failed to maintain the grassy area in a safe condition. The Bureau moved for summary judgment, claiming it enjoyed Mississippi Code Section 11-46-9(1)(v)’s immunity from certain premises-liability claims. In granting summary judgment, the trial judge reasoned that the Bureau enjoyed discretionary-function immunity because no statute mandated that it operate a civic center and because Crider failed to show any “laws or regulations . . . which would remove the Defendants’ particular acts (or inaction) from the ‘umbrella of discretionary function immunity.’” Crider appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Crider v. DeSoto County Convention & Visitors Bureau" on Justia Law
Tucker v. Williams
Gay St. Mary Williams and her husband, Larry Williams, filed a complaint against William Tucker and two insurance companies. The Williamses alleged that Mrs. Williams had been severely injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by Tucker. When Tucker failed to answer, the circuit clerk entered a default. The trial court denied Tucker’s motion to set aside the entry of default and his motion for reconsideration. After a hearing, the trial court awarded damages in the amount of $2,962,984.60, plus $300,000 to Larry Williams for loss of consortium, and entered a default judgment in favor of the Williamses. Tucker appealed, arguing that the trial court’s refusal to set aside the entry of default was an abuse of discretion. Alternatively, he challenged portions of the damages award. The Supreme Court found that under a liberal standard applicable to setting aside default judgments, the trial court abused its discretion by refusing to set aside the entry of default in this case. Therefore, the Court reversed the judgment of the trial court and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Tucker v. Williams" on Justia Law
Smith v. Leake County School District
After a year of bullying and intimidation by a small group of students, Yahenacy Smith was beaten and severely injured while riding the school bus home. Smith sued the Leake County School District, alleging negligence and negligence per se. The circuit court found that the school district was entitled to discretionary-function immunity and granted the school district’s motion for summary judgment. Smith appealed. Finding that the broad governmental function of the school district here was ministerial, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment and remanded the case to the circuit court for Smith to proceed with her claims. View "Smith v. Leake County School District" on Justia Law
Tarvin v. CLC of Jackson, LLC d/b/a Pleasant Hills Community Living Center
On her father’s behalf, Debra Tarvin signed a nursing home Admission Agreement which contained an arbitration provision. After her father Caldwell Tarvin died, she brought a wrongful-death suit against the nursing home, CLC of Jackson, LLC d/b/a Pleasant Hills Community Living Center (“Pleasant Hills”). Caldwell was admitted to Pleasant Hills in August 2007, and Debra signed an Admission Agreement as Caldwell’s “Responsible Party.” Janet Terrell and Annette Tarvin also signed the Agreement as “Family Members” but Caldwell himself did not sign the Agreement. Pleasant Hills moved to dismiss the proceedings and to compel arbitration. Debra responded and argued that Pleasant Hills had waived its right to compel arbitration by participating in the litigation. Debra also argued that Pleasant Hills had “completely ignore[d] the issue of whether or not Mr. Tarvin’s family members had the legal authority to bind him to an arbitration agreement[.]” Specifically, Debra argued that there was “no legal authority, such as a power of attorney or conservatorship” by which she could bind her father to the arbitration agreement, nor could she bind him under the Uniform Healthcare Decisions Act, because “the record is devoid of any evidence” that the physicians relied upon by Pleasant Hills were Caldwell’s primary physicians. The trial court granted Pleasant Hills' motion, and Debra appealed. The relevant statutes at play here were codified as the “Uniform Health-Care Decisions Act,” Mississippi Code Section 41-41-201 to 41-41-229 (the “Act”). The Supreme Court's review of this case found that Act required determination by a primary physician that an individual lacks capacity before a “surrogate” properly can make a healthcare decision for that individual. The record here did not support a finding that a certain "Dr. Thomas" was Caldwell’s primary physician. The Court therefore reversed the trial court’s order compelling arbitration and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Tarvin v. CLC of Jackson, LLC d/b/a Pleasant Hills Community Living Center" on Justia Law