Justia Mississippi Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Injury Law

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Tomeka Handy filed a complaint alleging medical negligence against Madison County Nursing Home and Madison County. Handy filed her complaint for wrongful death on October 4, 2012, individually and in her capacity as the administratrix of the estate of her mother, Willie Handy, who was a resident of the nursing home from August 25, 2008, through the date of her death on April 12, 2011. The suit was filed on behalf of all the decedent’s wrongful death beneficiaries. After the county was dismissed, the nursing home filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that it was entitled to a judgment as a matter of law because Handy had not designated an expert witness. Before the summary judgment hearing, Handy filed designations of two expert witnesses. The Circuit Court of Madison County granted the motion for summary judgment because Handy had failed to produce sworn expert testimony in opposition to the motion for summary judgment. Handy filed a motion for reconsideration along with expert witness affidavits, but the circuit court denied the motion for reconsideration. Handy appealed, arguing that the circuit court dismissed her case as a sanction for a discovery violation, and the harsh sanction of dismissal amounted to an abuse of discretion. Because the record established that Handy failed to meet her burden of production on summary judgment, and the circuit court did not abuse its discretion by denying Handy’s motion for reconsideration, the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court. View "Handy v. Madison County Nursing Home" on Justia Law

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In an interlocutory appeal, defendants the Mississippi Transportation Commission (“MTC”) and the Mississippi Department of Transportation (“MDOT”) moved for summary judgment to dismiss the case against them on immunity grounds under the Mississippi Tort Claims Act (“MTCA”). Christopher Adams died from injuries he sustained when his motorcycle wrecked on Interstate 10 in Jackson County. After traveling north on Interstate 110 in Harrison County, Adams merged onto an eastbound lane of I-10, where he entered a construction zone. According to the complaint, Adams inadvertently drove into a closed lane and then, when he tried to navigate back into an open lane, his motorcycle hit an uneven surface between lanes and “rotated.” Adams was thrown from his motorcycle and into traffic, where two other vehicles hit him, causing injuries from which he later died. Adams' estate raised a number of claims against defendants all sounding in negligence and relating to the condition of the road, failure to place proper warnings, and creating hazardous driving conditions. The trial judge rejected the defendants’ argument that, notwithstanding certain narrower regulations requiring specific actions, they were immune from liability because the broader function of traffic-control-device placement was discretionary. Finding no reversible error in the trial court's judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed the denial of immunity. View "Mississippi Transportation Commission v. Adams" on Justia Law

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After hearing all the evidence in a medical-malpractice trial, the jury retired to deliberate. At some point during their deliberations, they requested a copy of the jury instructions, which the bailiff provided. But instead of providing the approved set of instructions, the bailiff mistakenly provided a set that the defendants previously had proffered, which included a peremptory instruction. The jury returned a unanimous defense verdict, and the parties left the courthouse. When the trial judge discovered the instruction mistake, he called the parties back to the courthouse and later ordered a new trial. But the defendants then filed a motion to enforce the high/low settlement agreement that the parties had entered into prior to trial. The trial judge agreed with the defendants that a new trial was not allowed under the agreement and rescinded his previous order granting it. Plaintiff appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, finding that the jury verdict lacked validity, and as such, no verdict was "achieved," leaving the condition precedent to the high/low agreement unsatisfied. Furthermore, the Court found the term "appeal rights" in the agreement was not ambiguous, and nothing else in the agreement precluded a new trial. The Court therefore reversed the trial judge’s decision to void his initial order, and remanded the case with instructions to the trial court to reinstate that order, which denied a mistrial but granted a new trial. View "Reynolds v. Allied Emergency Services, PC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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Herbert Williams sued the City of Vicksburg after he had been arrested after informing police officers that he had discharged a firearm to prevent an attack by a neighbor’s dog. The city moved for dismissal, which the Circuit Court denied. The city was granted permission to file an interlocutory appeal. Because it could not be said beyond doubt that Williams would have been unable to prove any set of facts in support of his claim, the Supreme Court affirmed the Circuit Court’s denial of the city’s Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings. View "City of Vicksburg v. Williams" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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This was an interlocutory appeal involving a premises-liability case. Cynthia Adams, one of the defendants in the case, filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court denied. Plaintiff Anthony Hughes brought a negligence claim against multiple parties: BKB, LLC d/b/a the Electric Cowboy; Jonathan Self, manager of the Electric Cowboy; and Adams, the owner of the property on which Electric Cowboy operates. Hughes alleged that he was “attacked and assaulted by a third party assailant” at the Electric Cowboy in 2011. Hughes claimed that all the defendants “had either actual or constructive knowledge of the third party’s violent nature or actual or constructive knowledge that an atmosphere of violence existed on the premises of the Electric Cowboy.” Adams was an absentee landlord, who did not physically occupy, possess, or exercise control over the Electric Cowboy and/or the leased premises prior to or at the time of the incident in question; Adams did not frequent or visit the Electric Cowboy; Adams had no control or involvement in the operations or management of the Electric Cowboy; she was never employed by the Electric Cowboy; she did not supervise the Electric Cowboy, and she did not have the right to supervise the Electric Cowboy. Adams petitioned the Supreme Court for interlocutory appeal when her motion for summary judgment was denied. A panel of the Supreme Court issued an order granting the petition and staying the trial court proceedings. Finding that Adams was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law, the Court reversed the trial court’s denial of summary judgment and rendered judgment in favor of Adams. View "Adams v. Hughes" on Justia Law

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Early in the morning on November 7, 2011, Arnoldo Moreno, Juan Estrada, and Jose Garcia-Guillan were killed in a motor-vehicle collision when Arnoldo’s pickup truck collided with an eighteen-wheeler tractor-trailer, owned by TLSL and driven by Randall Walker. Ana Moreno (“Moreno”), Arnoldo’s widow, filed a wrongful-death action. At trial, after Moreno rested, TLSL and Walker moved for a directed verdict on improper inspection, damages for pain and suffering, medical bills, final expense and burial, hedonic damages, current net loss value of wages, punitive damages, and liability. Moreno stipulated that the directed verdict be granted on all the issues except the current net-loss-value issue, the inspection issue, and the liability issue. The trial court granted directed verdict on each issue. Moreno appealed, arguing the trial court erred in granting TLSL's motion as to negligence. Finding that Moreno failed to provide any evidence demonstrating negligence, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Moreno v. TLSL, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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Ann Doe was treated at Rankin Medical Center after she was sexually assaulted. Doe claimed that when she returned to school, fellow students teased her about the sexual assault. According to Doe, unidentified classmates said they had heard about the incident from a classmate, who was the daughter of Gina McBeth, a nurse who worked in the emergency room at Rankin Medical. Doe sued McBeth and Rankin Medical, alleging breach of confidentiality and damages. The trial court granted summary judgment in McBeth’s and Rankin Medical’s favor. Doe appealed, arguing that circumstantial evidence and McBeth’s credibility created a genuine issue of material fact. She also argued first on appeal that the trial-court judge should have recused himself, since he was the prosecutor in the underlying rape case. Because Doe did not present any admissible evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact under any actionable theory of recovery and failed to file a motion for recusal, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment. View "Doe v. Rankin Medical Center" on Justia Law

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Marcus and Patricia Byrd’s home, in The Timbers of Crossgates subdivision in Brandon, was managed by Ridgway, Lane & Associates (Ridgway). The Byrds claimed that mold began growing inside the home when Ridgway and the Timbers Homeowners’ Association (HOA) failed to repair a leak in the dining room ceiling, that the influx of water damaged the home and property inside, and that Marcus Byrd developed breathing problems as a result of mold exposure. Both Ridgway and the HOA filed motions for summary judgment asserting that the statute of limitations had expired. The trial court granted the defendants’ motions with regard to the property damage claims but denied their motions respecting the personal injury claims. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted Ridgway and the HOA leave to file an interlocutory appeal. Because no assignment of error regarding the Byrds’ property damage claims was raised on appeal, the Court affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment with regard to those claims. Finding that a genuine issue of material fact existed regarding the time at which Marcus Byrd knew or by reasonable diligence should have known of his illness, the Court affirmed the denial of summary judgment and remanded this case for trial. View "Ridgway Lane & Associates, Inc. v. Watson" on Justia Law

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While attending Auburn University on a full football scholarship, Austin Ramsey permanently injured his back in the university’s weight room in Auburn, Alabama. Ramsey filed suit in the Circuit Court of Madison County, Mississippi, against Auburn University and Kevin Yoxall, Auburn’s head strength and conditioning coach. Both defendants filed motions to dismiss, arguing that venue was improper in Mississippi. The circuit court found that there were no facts creating venue in Madison County and dismissed Ramsey’s complaint without prejudice. Finding no error in that judgment, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Ramsey v. Auburn University" on Justia Law

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Khambraya Stanley and Jeanette Winchester were purchasing fuel at a gas station owned and operated by Scott Petroleum when they were struck from behind by an out-of-control car. They asserted that Scott Petroleum required its patrons to stand in an unreasonably dangerous spot and that, even though it had erected iron and concrete bollards (posts) around the store, gas pump, and a power pole, it had placed neither barriers nor a curb around the walk-up window. Scott Petroleum had posted a sign on the side of the side of the store that said: “CAUTION! BE SAFE AND ALERT. WATCH OUT FOR MOVING VEHICLES.” With only written discovery completed, Scott Petroleum filed a motion for summary judgment. The plaintiffs opposed the motion and alternatively requested a continuance under Rule 56(f) of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure so they could obtain affidavits, take depositions, and complete discovery. The trial court granted Scott Petroleum’s motion for summary judgment, denying the plaintiffs’ request for a continuance. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted plaintiffs’ petition for writ of certiorari to address whether the trial court erred in refusing to grant a Rule 56(f) continuance prior to granting summary judgment. After review, the Court found the trial court should have granted the continuance to permit more discovery, and therefore reversed the grant of summary judgment as well as the Court of Appeals’ judgment and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Stanley v. Scott Petroleum Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law