Justia Mississippi Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Personal Injury
Byram Cafe Group, LLC v. Tucker
Byram Cafe Group, LLC (BCG), moved for summary judgment against Eddie and Teresa Tucker in a premises-liability action arising from Eddie’s slip-and-fall accident. BCG sought judgment as a matter of law based on a lack of evidence supporting any of the elements of a slip-and-fall case. In response, the Tuckers argued that genuine issues of material fact existed as to dangerous conditions that may have caused Eddie’s fall. The circuit court denied BCG’s summary-judgment motion, ruling that genuine issues of material fact were present. BCG sought interlocutory appeal of the circuit court’s denial of summary judgment. The Mississippi Supreme Court found that as a matter of law, the circuit court erred by denying BCG’s motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court reversed the trial court's order and remanded for further proceedings. View "Byram Cafe Group, LLC v. Tucker" on Justia Law
Thornhill v. Walker-Hill Environmental, et al.
In 2017, Jeremy Thornhill said that he had injured his back while working. He sought workers’ compensation benefits from his employer, Walker-Hill and its insurance carrier, Zurich American Insurance Company of Illinois, but the Employer/Carrier denied that Thornhill had sustained a compensable injury. Ultimately, the parties agreed to compromise and settled pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 71-3-29 (Rev. 2021). Thornhill submitted the settlement to the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission for approval. After examining the application, the Commission approved the settlement and dismissed Thornhill’s case with prejudice. Pursuant to the settlement, Thornhill signed a general release, which reserved his right to pursue a bad faith claim. Believing he had exhausted his administrative remedies, Thornhill filed a bad faith suit against the Employer/Carrier; the Employer/Carrier moved to dismiss the case, arguing the circuit court lacked jurisdiction because the Commission never made a factual finding that he was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The trial court concurred it lacked jurisdiction and dismissed the case. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, finding that Thornhill had exhausted his administrative remedies and that the circuit court had jurisdiction to hear his bad faith claim. The appeals court determined that “Thornhill exhausted his administrative remedies because he fully and finally settled his workers’ compensation claim against the Employer/Carrier, the Commission approved the settlement, and there is nothing left pending before the Commission.” To this, the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed. The circuit court judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Thornhill v. Walker-Hill Environmental, et al." on Justia Law
Pruitt v. Sargent, et al.
In 2008, minor Kelvin Pruitt lost two fingers in a bicycle chain accident shortly after accepting a ride home from school from another student. According to the complaint, Kelvin was a special needs student who had been ordered off the school bus and told to walk home. Plaintiff initially filed suit against the school district and two of the district’s employees in 2009, but the action was dismissed voluntarily in 2018 in light of defects related to service of process. Plaintiff filed a second suit in 2018, which also was dismissed voluntarily. Third, plaintiff filed the present lawsuit on January 16, 2020. Defendants submitted their answer and defenses on February 20, 2020. The parties engaged in discovery for several months, including preliminary interrogatories. In June 2020, defendants moved to dismiss on the ground that the statute of limitations had expired in 2010. They argued that the statute of limitations, while initially tolled by the minors’ saving statute, had run without interruption from the filing of the first complaint on the minor’s behalf in 2009. Plaintiff argued defendants waived the statute of limitations defense by failing to raise it in their initial responsive pleading and, in the alternative, that the minors’ saving statute continued to operate when a case brought on behalf of a minor was dismissed for reasons other than the merits. By plaintiff’s calculation, the statute of limitations did not expire until February 28, 2020, a year after Kelvin’s twenty-first birthday. The circuit court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss. Finding no reversible error in dismissal, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Pruitt v. Sargent, et al." on Justia Law
Lawson v. City of Jackson
Latoya Lawson brought an interlocutory appeal of a protective order entered by the Hinds County Circuit Court in a negligence case against the City of Jackson. In 2018, Lawson was injured when “she hit an unavoidable pothole” while driving her motorcycle on Woodrow Wilson Drive in Jackson, Mississippi. She alleged, inter alia, that the City was negligent in constructing and maintaining the roadway and that the City’s negligence caused her injuries. The trial court issued the order on review here due to Lawson’s lack of diligence in conducting discovery and her attempts to conduct discovery outside the agreed-upon deadlines. The order protected the City from having to respond to production requests that would be due after the discovery deadlines. Additionally, the order prohibited Lawson from making public records requests and from offering any public records she might obtain as evidence at trial. Lawson argued that the order was an abuse of the trial court’s discretion because it improperly restricted her right to access public records. The City argues that the trial court’s order was wholly within the court’s discretion as a discovery matter. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed a portion of the trial courts order protecting the City from having to respond to Lawson’s request for production of documents. It reversed, however, the portions of the order prohibiting Lawson from requesting public records and from offering those public records at trial. View "Lawson v. City of Jackson" on Justia Law
Dilworth v. LG Chem, Ltd. et al.
This case presented a question of whether Mississippi courts had personal jurisdiction over a South Korean battery manufacturer whose goods were in the stream of commerce in Mississippi. The Mississippi Plaintiff, Melissa Dilworth, was seriously injured when one of LG Chem Ltd.’s (LG Chem) lithium-ion batteries exploded in her vaping pen. LG Chem and its Georgia-based subsidiary, LG Chem America, argued successfully before the circuit court that they lacked sufficient minimum contacts with Mississippi to satisfy the constitutional standard for exercising personal jurisdiction over nonresident defendants. On appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court found that manufacturer LG Chem purposefully availed itself of the market for its product in Mississippi such that the exercise of specific personal jurisdiction comported with due process principles. The Supreme Court also found that dismissal of subsidiary LG Chem America was premature; therefore, judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for jurisdictional discovery. View "Dilworth v. LG Chem, Ltd. et al." on Justia Law
Thornhill v. Walker-Hill Environmental, et al.
In July 2017, Jeremy Thornhill said that he had injured his back while working. He sought workers’ compensation benefits from his employer, Walker-Hill and its insurance carrier, Zurich American Insurance Company of Illinois (collectively, Employer/Carrier), but the Employer/Carrier denied that Thornhill had sustained a compensable injury. Ultimately, the parties agreed to compromise and settled pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 71-3-29 (Rev. 2021). Thornhill submitted the settlement to the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission for approval. After examining the application, the Commission approved the settlement and dismissed Thornhill’s case with prejudice. Pursuant to the settlement, Thornhill signed a general release,” which reserved his right to pursue a bad faith claim. Believing he had exhausted his administrative remedies, Thornhill filed a bad faith suit against the Employer/Carrier. The Employer/Carrier moved to dismiss, arguing that Thornhill had not exhausted administrative remedies—and that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction—because the Commission never made a factual finding that he was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The trial court granted the motion on that basis. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, finding that Thornhill indeed exhausted his administrative remedies and that the circuit court had jurisdiction to hear his bad faith claim. Finding no reversible error in the appellate court’s decision, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Thornhill v. Walker-Hill Environmental, et al." on Justia Law
Byram Cafe Group, LLC v. Tucker
Byram Café Group, LLC (BCG), moved for summary judgment against Eddie and Teresa Tucker in a premises-liability action arising from Eddie’s slip-and-fall accident. BCG sought judgment as a matter of law based on a lack of evidence supporting any of the elements of a slip-and-fall case. In response, the Tuckers argued that genuine issues of material fact existed as to dangerous conditions that may have caused Eddie’s fall. The circuit court denied BCG’s summary judgment motion. BCG sought interlocutory appeal, which the Mississippi Supreme Court granted. The issue the appeal presented was whether the Tuckers could survive a motion for summary judgment without producing evidence that a dangerous condition existed, that BCG caused the hypothetical dangerous condition, and that BCG knew or should have known about the dangerous condition. As a matter of law, the Supreme Court found the circuit court erred by denying BCG’s motion for summary judgment. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded the circuit court’s order. View "Byram Cafe Group, LLC v. Tucker" on Justia Law
Taylor v. Premier Women’s Health, PLLC, et al.
This case involved a medical-malpractice suit brought by Jalena and Brian Taylor against Jalena’s OB/GYN, Dr. Donielle Daigle, and her clinic, Premier Women’s Health, PLLC. In 2017, Jalena was admitted to Memorial Hospital of Gulfport in active labor preparing to give birth. After pushing for two and a half hours, the baby’s head became lodged in the mother’s pelvis, and it was determined that a caesarean section was necessary. Following delivery of the child, Jalena’s blood pressure dropped, and her pulse increased. The nurses worked to firm Jalena’s uterus post delivery, but she continued to have heavy clots and bleeding. Jalena was given a drug to tighten the uterus, and an OR team was called to be on standby in the event surgery became necessary. Dr. Daigle called the OR team off after Jalena’s bleeding was minimal, and her uterus remained completely firm. But Jalena’s heart rate remained extremely elevated. Dr. Daigle allowed Jalena to go back to her room, and she checked her again, and the uterus was firm. A minute or two later, Jalena sat up and felt a gush of blood. Dr. Daigle prepared to perform a hysterectomy, There was still bleeding from the cervical area, which doctors decided they needed to amputate. Even after doing so, there was still bleeding because of a laceration extending into the vagina. When the vagina was sutured and incorporated into the repair of the vaginal cuff, the bleeding finally stopped. The Taylors allege that Dr. Daigle failed to adequately treat Jalena and, as a result, she cannot have any more children. A five-day jury trial was held in January 2021, and the jury returned a twelve-to-zero verdict in favor of Dr. Daigle and Premier. On appeal, the Taylors argued the trial court committed reversible error by: (1) refusing to grant their cause challenges of patients of Dr. Daigle and Premier, thus failing to give them a right to a fair and impartial jury; and (2) failing to find a deviation from the standard of care for failing to perform a proper inspection of a genital tract laceration. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the jury verdict because it was reached on factual evidence in favor of Dr. Daigle and Premier by an impartial jury. "All twelve of the jurors agreed on the verdict, and the verdict was not against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. It should not be disturbed." View "Taylor v. Premier Women's Health, PLLC, et al." on Justia Law
Strickland v. Rankin County School District
In September 2016, Christopher Strickland, Jr., a sophomore at Northwest Rankin High School, was at Choctaw Trails in Clinton, Mississippi, preparing to run a cross- country meet. Before the race, a wasp stung Christopher on the top of his head. According to Christopher, a lump began to form and his head felt tight, like it was swelling. Christopher told one of his coaches. According to affidavits submitted by the Rankin County School District (RCSD), two coaches and a registered nurse, who was there to watch her son race, examined Christopher’s head and found no evidence of a sting or adverse reaction. And Christopher assured them he was fine and wanted to run the race. But Christopher recalled only one coach examining him. And this coach told him to “man up” and run the race. Christopher ran the race. According to one of his coaches, she checked in on him at the mile marker. He responded that he was “okay, just hot.” According to Christopher, after the mile marker he began to feel dizzy. Then he fell, hitting his head. The same nurse attended to him. So did her husband, who was a neurologist. Christopher appeared to recover and rejoined his team after the race. But he later went to a doctor, who discovered injuries to his brain and spine. In January 2017, Christopher’s father, Christopher Strickland, Sr. (Strickland), sued RCSD on Christopher’s behalf. He alleged various breaches of duties in how RCSD employees acted both (1) after the wasp sting but before the race and (2) after Christopher’s fall. Specifically, Strickland alleged that, after the fall, RCSD employees failed to follow the district’s concussion protocol. The Mississippi Supreme Court surmised "much legal analysis has been aimed at whether the actions of two cross-country coaches were discretionary policy decisions entitled to immunity from suit under Mississippi Code Section 11-46-9(1)(d) (Rev. 2019)." But on certiorari review, the Court found this question to be moot: the alleged actions of the coaches do not establish any triable claim for negligence. For that reason, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the Rankin County School District. View "Strickland v. Rankin County School District" on Justia Law
Turner & Associates, PLLC, et al. v. Chandler
While driving a forklift at work, Lori Chandler was hit by another forklift and injured. She retained Turner & Associates to file a workers’ compensation claim. But Turner & Associates failed to file her claim within the statute of limitations. Adding to that, the firm’s case manager engaged in a year-and-a-half-long cover-up, which included false assurances of settlement negotiations, fake settlement offers, and a forged settlement letter purporting to be from Chandler’s former employer. Because of this professional negligence, Chandler filed a legal malpractice action. The only issue at trial was damages. The trial judge, sitting as fact-finder, concluded that Chandler had suffered a compensable work-related injury—an injury that caused her to lose her job and left her unemployed for nearly two years. Based on her hourly wage, the trial judge determined, had Turner & Associates timely filed Chandler’s workers’ compensation claim, Chandler could have reasonably recovered $50,000 in disability benefits. So the trial judge awarded her $50,000 in compensatory damages. The trial judge also awarded Chandler $100,000 in punitive damages against the case manager due to her egregious conduct. The Court of Appeals affirmed the punitive-damages award. But the court reversed and remanded the compensatory-damages award. Essentially, the Court of Appeals held that Chandler had failed to present sufficient medical evidence to support a $50,000 workers’ compensation claim. The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the appellate court: "Were this a workers’ compensation case, we might agree with the Court of Appeals. But this is a legal malpractice case. And part of what Chandler lost, due to attorney negligence, was her ability to prove her work-related injury led to her temporary total disability. ... the Court of Appeals erred by applying exacting statutory requirements for a workers’ compensation claim to Chandler’s common-law legal malpractice claim." The Court reversed on the issue of compensatory damages and reinstated the trial judge’s $50,000 compensatory-damages award. Because this was the only issue for which Chandler sought certiorari review, it affirmed the remainder of the Court of Appeals’ decision, which affirmed the punitive-damages award but reversed and remanded the grant of partial summary judgment against attorney Angela Lairy in her individual capacity. View "Turner & Associates, PLLC, et al. v. Chandler" on Justia Law