Oral arg. – Miss.S.Ct. – Wed., May 28, 2014

The Mississippi Supreme Court will heard two arguments on Wednesday, May 28.  The first is a premises liability case that involves the issue of what, if any, protection a business needs to provide at its entrance.  The second case involves the state’s former medical examiner and his battle to get his medical malpractice insurer to cover him in civil suits filed by exonerated inmates. 

At 10:30 a.m.

Cheeks v. Autozone – Cheeks was entering a south Jackson AutoZone when an out-of-control car sped into the outdoor  entranceway.  Access to the entranceway was made easier by the fact that the handicapped ramp was situated in such a way there was not even an appreciable curb between the parking lot and the entrance.  As a matter of fact, AutoZone employees would have customers drive up to the entrance this way when it was raining and they wanted help installing windshield wipers.  Bollards protected most of the store’s front and side walls but not this car-sized area through which the vehicle came that struck Cheeks.  A jury found for Cheeks.  The trial court (Judge Gowan) granted a jnov for AutoZone. 

Cheeks’ brief.

AutoZone’s brief 


At 1:30 p.m.

Hayne v. The Doctors Company – Steven Hayne was the state’s medical examiner for many, many years despite the fact that he was not a board-certified forensic pathologist.  No matter, the prosecutors loved him.  Kennedy Brewer was a death row inmate later freed when it was discovered that the bite mark evidence (testified to by Hayne and dentist West) was false.   Brewer sued Hayne and Hayne asked his medical malpractice insurer to indemnify him.  The insurer refused on the grounds that the plaintiff was not one of Hayne’s patients and the policy excluded acts done in the employment of government.  Hayne sued his insurer and lost.  He appeals. 

The Doctors Company brief

Hayne’s rebuttal brief

The only thing the two cases had in common was that both were appeals from decisions by Judge Gowan in Hinds County. The first case was heard by the panel of Justices Randolph, Pierce and King. The second was heard by Justices Dickinson, Kitchens and Chandler. The afternoon argument was something to watch. One of the issues was the issue of what issues were before the court. I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like that.

2 thoughts on “Oral arg. – Miss.S.Ct. – Wed., May 28, 2014

  1. No matter if you like Dr. Hayne or not, how is it possible for this prison inmate to sue Dr. Hayne for rendering his opinion in a trial? This is NOT the practice of medicine, and Brewer was not his patient so no doctor-patient relationship was established.

    From the standpoint of a mere “coverage issue,” I can understand how The Doctor’s Company (Dr. Hayne’s insuror) can legitimately argue he is not “practicing medicine” under their policy when he is functioning as the State Medical Examiner.

    Can inmates now sue the policeman, or the district attorney, or any of the witnesses who testified against them in court when it turns out later that the policeman did not pass his sergeant’s exam? Isn’t that is what cross-examination is for?

  2. I’ll just assume you haven’t been keeping up with the extent of Dr. Hayne’s activities because I don’t see how anyone can defend what he has done. What’s interesting about this litigation is that the attorneys who are representing Dr. Hayne on appeal have been sending out solicitation letters (clearly marked “solicitation”) to inmates offering to investigate their cases for potential post-conviction relief motions. My clients have sent me two of these.

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