Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Mississippi

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In 2013, Lauderdale County contracted with roofing company Norman Enterprises, Inc. to repair the roof of the Ulmer Building in Meridian, Mississippi. George Waltman, a Norman employee, fell through the roof while performing work. Waltman sued Engineering Plus, Inc., the project engineer, claiming it should have warned him of the dangerous condition of the roof. Engineering Plus moved for summary judgment, arguing it had no duty to warn Waltman. The Circuit Court agreed and granted summary judgment to Engineering Plus. Finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Waltman v. Engineering Plus, Inc." on Justia Law

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Mary Edwards sued Coca-Cola Bottling Company United, Inc. (Coca-Cola), and Willie Lee, Jr., for back injuries sustained when, while shopping at Wal-Mart, she was struck by a cart driven by Lee as he stocked shelves with soft drinks. The Circuit Court dismissed Edwards’s lawsuit with prejudice after finding that she had misrepresented her injuries during discovery. Edwards appealed, arguing that her failure to disclose prior back problems in her discovery responses either did not amount to a discovery violation that such failure merited a sanction less severe than dismissal. Edwards also argued that, because no genuine issue of material fact existed about whether Lee’s breach of the duty of care proximately caused her injuries, the trial court erred by denying her motion for summary judgment on liability. Because the trial court was within its discretion in dismissing Edwards’s case on the basis of her discovery violation, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Edwards v. Coca Cola Bottling Company United, Inc." on Justia Law

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Timothy Hinton died from injuries sustained in a fall from a tree stand. At the time of his fall, Timothy was wearing a fall-arrest system which included a full-body harness, tether and tree strap. Timothy had purchased the tree stand and fall-arrest system from The Sportsman’s Guide, Inc. (“TSG”), in 2009. C&S Global Imports, Inc. (“C&S”) had manufactured the items and marketed them to TSG. Pekin Insurance Company insured C&S at the time of Timothy’s injury and death. After filing their third amended complaint, the Hintons filed a motion for partial summary judgment against Pekin, claiming Pekin waived its defenses to coverage or should have been estopped from asserting any coverage defenses. Among other arguments, the Hintons maintained that Pekin failed to defend C&S, did not file a declaratory-judgment action and allowed a default judgment against C&S. The circuit court denied the Hintons’ motion. Pekin then moved for summary judgment, arguing the insurance policy excluded coverage for tree or deer stands and related equipment. The circuit court granted Pekin’s motion and entered a final judgment dismissing Pekin from the suit. The Hintons appealed both of the circuit court’s rulings. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the order denying partial summary judgment to the Hintons, the order granting summary judgment to Pekin and the final judgment dismissing Pekin from the suit. View "Hinton v. Pekin Insurance Company" on Justia Law

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Edward and Pattie Hyde brought a medical-negligence case based on loss of chance. Their theory was that the treating physician’s and hospital’s failure to properly test for and timely diagnose Edward’s stroke resulted in his not receiving treatment, namely, an injection of Tissue Plasminogen Activator, (tPA) which they claimed would have led to a better stroke recovery. The trial court dismissed the claim, and the Hydes appealed, asking the Mississippi Supreme Court to abandon long-standing precedent on loss-of-chance. They argued under Mississippi law, they could recover for the "reduced likelihood of a recovery." The Supreme Court was clear “that Mississippi law does not permit recovery of damages because of mere diminishment of the ‘chance of recovery.’” However, the trial court erred in dismissing the Hydes' claim on summary judgment: the Hydes presented expert medical testimony that the majority of stroke patients who timely receive tPA experience substantial improvement. Because their expert supported his opinion with medical literature, the trial judge abused his discretion by excluding this testimony. The Hydes’ expert testimony created a material fact dispute over whether they could recover for loss-of-chance. The Court therefore reversed summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hyde v. Martin" on Justia Law

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Helen Schroeder appealed a circuit court's grant of summary judgment to the Estate of Harry Schroeder, arguing that the trial court erred in finding that the Estate was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the grounds of release, res judicata, and accord and satisfaction. A log truck driven by Royce Sullivan collided with the rear of an automobile being driven by Harry Schroeder, who had just pulled his car onto a highway. Harry died as a result of the accident; his wife, Helen (a passenger in her husband’s car) suffered severe injuries, permanent disability, and diminished mental capacity. Helen, both individually, and as one of Harry’s wrongful-death beneficiaries, sued Sullivan in federal court, alleging that Sullivan’s negligence had caused Harry’s death and her permanent disability. Sullivan moved for summary judgment at the close of discovery, arguing that the uncontradicted evidence established Harry’s negligence as the sole cause of the accident. In denying summary judgment, the federal judge stated that the evidence created a jury question as to Sullivan’s fault, and that “plaintiffs do not appear to dispute Harry Schroeder’s potential contributory negligence.” The parties settled and agreed to a release of claims, and the district court dismissed the case. Following the settlement agreement, release, and subsequent dismissal of the action against Sullivan, Helen filed suit against Harry in Mississippi circuit court, alleging Harry negligently had failed to yield the right of way and pulled in front of Sullivan’s log truck at an extremely slow rate of speed, causing the accident which resulted in Helen’s permanent disability. Harry moved for summary judgment, arguing Helen pleaded facts in her complaint that were materially different from the facts she alleged in the federal court case, and that the state trial court should grant summary judgment based on the doctrines of judicial and equitable estoppel. Harry also argued the settlement and release of claims against Sullivan in federal court barred the circuit-court action under the doctrines of contractual release, accord and satisfaction, and res judicata. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Harry and found that Helen was judicially estopped from bringing a claim against Harry. The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and remanded. Harry again moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted it based on res judicata, accord and satisfaction and contractual release. Finding the trial court erred a second time in granting Harry's motion as to all three issues, the Supreme Court again reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Clark v. Neese" on Justia Law

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The estate and beneficiaries of Charles Norman, Sr., appeal the trial court’s exclusion of Norman’s medical experts and grant of summary judgment in favor of Anderson Regional Medical Center. In 2011, Charles Norman, Sr., was admitted to Anderson Regional and underwent a cardiac catheterization with stent placement, which was performed by his cardiologist, Dr. Michael Purvis. Dr. Purvis performed the procedure without significant complication, and he expected to discharge Norman two days later. At some point during the overnight hours of December 13 to 14, 2011, Norman suffered an ischemic stroke. Norman’s wife complained to nursing staff that she observed symptoms of a stroke as early as 7:00 a.m. the next morning, which the nurses documented in Norman’s chart at 8:00 a.m. Neither Dr. Purvis nor any other medical doctor was notified of the stroke until much later in the day. By the time the doctors became aware of the stroke, the time frame within which a “clot-buster” drug used to restore blood flow to a stroke victim’s brain was to be effectively administered had passed. Norman remained at Anderson Regional two to three days after he had his stroke. He was then transferred to a step-down unit for rehabilitation before finally being transferred to Bedford Nursing Home at Marion, Mississippi, where he remained for the rest of his life. Norman sued Anderson Regional a little more than a year before his death. Because the trial court properly found that Norman’s experts’ testimony lacked sufficient foundation in the medical literature and because no genuine issue of material fact remained, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed exclusion of the experts' testimony. View "Norman v. Anderson Regional Medical Center" on Justia Law

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This appeal was one of many civil and criminal cases arising out of the attempted murder of Lee Abraham, allegedly orchestrated by Dr. Arnold Smith. The trial court sanctioned Smith’s attorney, William Bell, for violating its order sealing a portion of a document. Because the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sanctioning Bell, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Smith v. Hickman" on Justia Law

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Mary Mac Atkinson alleged she was injured after slipping on a liquid substance at Clinton Healthcare. After the parties conducted significant amounts of discovery, Atkinson moved for a spoliation determination, requesting a spoliation jury instruction regarding a missing video, and moved for partial summary judgment as to liability. Clinton Healthcare moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion for spoliation, granted Atkinson’s motion for partial summary judgment, and denied Clinton Healthcare’s motion for summary judgment. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined genuine issues of material fact remained, and the trial court erred by granting Atkinson’s motion for partial summary judgment, but correctly denied Clinton Healthcare’s motion for summary judgment. Additionally, the Supreme Court found the trial court’s order regarding spoliation and the entitlement to a spoliation jury instruction was premature. Therefore, the trial court was affirmed in part, reversed in part, the spoliation order was vacated, and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Clinton Healthcare, LLC v. Atkinson" on Justia Law

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Sallie Amerson sued Inland Family Clinic LLC and Dr. Ikechukwu Okorie over an allegedly defamatory statement Dr. Okorie made to another physician concerning Amerson’s apparent use of illegal drugs. The Defendants moved for summary judgment, contending the statements were privileged, but the Circuit Court denied the motion. Inland and Dr. Okorie petitioned the Mississippi Supreme Court for interlocutory review, which was granted. After consideration, the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court and rendered judgment in favor of Inland and Dr. Okorie. The Court found there was no genuine issue of material fact as to the substance of Dr. Okorie’s communication to the other physician regarding Amerson’s drug-test results. “By all accounts, the communication concerned Amerson’s continuing medical treatment and satisfied all of the elements of the qualified privilege. Since Amerson failed to produce any evidence of malice, her defamation claims fail as a matter of law.” View "Inland Family Practice Center, LLC v. Amerson" on Justia Law

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James Owens had been experiencing drug-withdrawal symptoms when he wandered off his work shift onto a dark Louisiana highway. At that time, Will Gates was driving his employer’s truck when he struck Owens. Gates did not see Owens, and the truck never left its lane of travel. Owens filed a negligence suit against Gates and his employer. The case proceeded to trial, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of Gates and his employer. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found the evidence supported the jury’s verdict that Gates had not been negligent. Furthermore, the Court found no merit to Owens’s claim that the judge wrongly denied his request for a mistrial based on Gates’s cousin Abraham Gates, a justice court judge, acting as a jury consultant in his case. View "Fairley v. Total Transportation of Mississippi, LLC" on Justia Law