Justia Mississippi Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Products Liability

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This was the third appeal the Supreme Court decided arising out of litigation over a defective combine Edward J. Johnson Jr. purchased from Parker Tractor & Implement Co., Inc. in 1994. This case was a direct appeal from the Circuit Court’s dismissal of a garnishment action as time-barred by the seven-year limitations period. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court. View "Johnson, Jr. v. Parker Tractor & Implement Company, Inc." on Justia Law

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Petitioner Troy Lofton alleged he suffered from asbestosis as a result of exposure to the Defendant's product, Flosal, during the course of his employment on various oil and gas drilling rigs. Petitioner filed suit in 2004, alleging two theories of product liability (design defect and inadequate warning), as well as claims for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Following trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Petitioner on his claims of design defect and negligent infliction of emotional distress, with one hundred percent of the liability assigned to Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP, successor-in-interest to ConocoPhillips Company, formerly known as Phillips Petroleum Company, and Phillips 66 Company, formerly doing business as Drilling Specialties Company (CPChem) and total damages in the amount of $15,200,000. CPChem's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and its motion for new trial and/or remittur were denied. Aggrieved, CPChem filed this appeal. Upon review, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for a new trial due to the trial court's error in allowing Petitioner's counsel to read from drilling records that were not admitted into evidence during the cross-examination of CPChem’s expert pulmonologist. View "Phillips 66 Co. v. Lofton" on Justia Law

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In 2009, Charles Larry McGraw filed a personal-injury action against four sand suppliers: Clark Sand Company, Inc.; Mississippi Valley Silica Co., Inc.; Precision Packaging, Inc.; and Custom Aggregates and Grinding, Inc. McGraw alleged the four defendants' sand caused his lung disease, silicosis. On the day of the trial, after the jury had heard the parties' opening statements, the court recessed, and the parties reached a settlement agreement. Subsequently, McGraw filed a motion for leave to amend his complaint to add his wife as a plaintiff and American Optical Corporation as an additional defendant. He then filed an amended motion for leave to amend his complaint (First Amended Complaint) to modify his request to add four more defendants: Lonestar Industries, Inc.; Specialty Sand Company; Pearl Sands, Inc.; and Pearl Specialty Sand, Inc. In early 2010, the trial court granted McGraw's amended motion and allowed him to add the five new defendants to the complaint. McGraw later filed a Second Amended Complaint, which added a sixth defendant, Dependable Abrasives, Inc., without seeking leave of court. All six defendants petitioned the Supreme Court for interlocutory appeal concerning the trial court's order denying their Motion for Summary Judgment, or Alternatively, Motion to Strike Second Amended Complaint and Dismiss First Amended Complaint. The defendants argued that, because the original parties settled with McGraw prior to his motions for leave to amend, the trial court improperly allowed the filing of the First Amended Complaint to add new parties. The defendants also argue that, because McGraw did not seek court approval in filing his Second Amended Complaint, that complaint should be struck. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the trial court abused its discretion in allowing McGraw to file his Second Amended Complaint, because he was required to obtain court approval. However, the Court found that the trial court did comply with the rules of procedure when it allowed McGraw to file his First Amended Complaint. The Court therefore affirmed the denial of the motion to dismiss the First Amended Complaint and reversed the denial of the motion to strike the Second Amended Complaint. View "Lone Star Industries, Inc. v. McGraw" on Justia Law

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Henry Morgan, Sr. filed a personal-injury suit against eighty-eight defendants, claiming injuries related to silicosis. Morgan, Sr., died while the personal-injury case was pending, and the case eventually was dismissed. More than three years after Morgan, Sr.'s death, his son, Henry Morgan, Jr., filed a wrongful-death suit individually and on behalf of all wrongful-death beneficiaries of Morgan, Sr. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment based on the running of the statute of limitations. The trial court denied the motion. Because the wrongful-death suit was filed more than three years after the death of Morgan, Sr., the statute of limitations barred any wrongful-death and survival claims. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s judgment and render judgment in favor of the defendants. View "Empire Abrasive Equipment Corp. v. Morgan" on Justia Law

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The issue before the Supreme Court in this product liability/breach of warranty case was whether the trial judge abused his discretion in denying the defendants' motion to transfer venue when the plaintiff sued in the county where the product was located when the alleged defects first appeared and not where the product was purchased or repaired. Finding that the general venue statute, Mississippi Code Section 11-11-3(1)(a) (Rev. 2004), requires that the case be brought in the county where the product was purchased and/or repaired, the Court reversed and remanded the case for transfer to the proper venue. View "Laurel Ford Lincoln Mercury, Inc. v. Blakeney" on Justia Law

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In 2009, Plaintiff Charles McGraw filed a personal-injury action against four sand suppliers: Clark Sand Company, Inc.; Mississippi Valley Silica Co. Inc.; Precision Packaging, Inc.; and Custom Aggregates and Grinding, Inc. Plaintiff alleged the four defendants’ sand caused his lung disease. On the day of the trial, after the jury heard the parties’ opening statements, the court recessed, and the parties reached a settlement agreement. A few months later, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to amend his complaint to add his wife as a plaintiff and to add additional defendants. In early 2010, the trial court granted Plaintiff’s amended motion and allowed him to add the five new defendants to the complaint. However, shortly after the court granted his leave to amend, Plaintiff added a sixth defendant without the court’s permission. All six defendants petitioned the Supreme Court for an interlocutory appeal concerning the trial court’s order that denied the defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment, or Alternatively, Motion to Strike Second Amended Complaint and Dismiss First Amended Complaint. The defendants argued that, because the original parties settled with Plaintiff prior to his motions for leave to amend, the trial court improperly allowed the filing of the First Amended Complaint to add new parties. The defendants also argued that because Plaintiff did not seek court approval in filing his Second Amended Complaint, that complaint should be struck. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that the trial court abused its discretion in allowing Plaintiff to file his Second Amended Complaint, because he was required to obtain court approval. However, the trial court did comply with procedural rules when it allowed Plaintiff to file his First Amended Complaint, because McGraw filed his motion before all of the original parties were dismissed with prejudice. View "Lone Star Industries, Inc. v. McGraw" on Justia Law

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In this personal-injury products-liability case, a jury awarded plaintiff Trellvion Gaines $7 million, finding that he had been brain-damaged from exposure to lead. In an effort to convince the Supreme Court to reverse the trial judgment and to render judgment in its favor, Defendant Sherwin-Williams Company challenged the reliability of Plaintiff's causation experts and fact witnesses. In the alternative, Sherwin-Williams alleged that unreliable, unfairly prejudicial, and untimely disclosed expert testimony and a biased jury pool required a new trial. Because Plaintiff's experts' speculation was inadmissible, and because the Plaintiffs' experts did not present any scientific authority that an acute, asymptomatic ingestion of lead could lead to the alleged injuries, Plaintiff did not offer sufficient proof of causation. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court's decision and remanded the case on the causation issue. The Court affirmed the trial court in all other respects. View "Sherwin-Williams Co. v. Gaines" on Justia Law