Decisions – Miss.Ct. App. – Jan. 13, 2015

Henry Lawson v. Statepossessing a vehicle with altered VIN –  Lawson was accused of running a “chop shop” in Prentiss County.  He was charged with four counts:  operating a chop shop, , two counts of possession of vehicles with altered or mutilated vehicle identification numbers, and possession of a stolen vehicle.  He was convicted on one count of possessing a vehicle with an altered VIN and sentenced to five years  as a habitual offender and ordered him to pay a fine of $5,000, with $4,000 suspended.  An investigation of Lawson’s business began after police received a tip.  The sheriff’s office obtained a search warrant for the house of Lawson’s brother in law  and  seized several parts from various vehicles.  The brother in law told law enforcement that he had purchased the vehicle with the altered VIN from Lawson.  Law enforcement got a search warrant for Lawson’s property where they seized auto parts and a 2008 white Chevrolet four door rollback truck  (which could be used to transport cars).  Lawson claims the seizure was illegal because the copy of the search warrant he was given was unsigned. He testified to that during a pretrial hearing and the defense entered into evidence an unsigned search warrant.   The state presented evidence including the signed search warrant as well as the testimony of the sheriff as to how the search warrant was obtained.  The Court of Appeals finds no error.    “A copy of an unsigned warrant entered into evidence does not establish that a proper, signed warrant was not obtained prior to the search of Lawson’s property.”

Lawson next argues that the state was untimely in asking to amend the indictment to charge him as an habitual a mere four days prior to trial.  The day before trial, the state presented the evidence demonstrating that Lawson was an habitual. The Court of Appeals rejects this argument on the grounds that the timing of the amendment did not strip Lawson of any defenses or unfairly surprise him.  He also claims the proof was insufficient to show the charges arose out of separate incidents.  The Court finds this arguement barred because Lawson did not object on these grounds below.  Finally he argues weight and sufficiency of the evidence which the Court also rejects.

Harvey Haley v. Anna Jurgenson, Ageless Remedies, et al. –  med mal –  Haley sued claiming that in December 2008, he went to Ageless Remedies Medical Skincare and Apothecary in Flowood to drop off business cards for his haircutting business.  There an aesthetician offered to use a laser device to remove some facial pimples.  Haley claimed that the procedure severely burned him and left scars on his cheek and nose. The defendants moved for summary judgment on the grounds that they never performed a laser procedure on him and presented  Haley’s own deposition testimony that that neither Jurgenson nor anyone at Ageless Remedies performed the medical procedure on him. “Haley testified in his deposition that he initially told Dr. George Abraham at Ageless Remedies that Dr. Donald Faucett of Trio Spa and Salon, his designated physician expert, actually performed the medical procedure. The defendants also presented evidence that Haley stated to his
attending physician, Dr. Sam Fillingane, that Dr. Faucett performed the photofacial laser procedure on him.”  Furthermore, Haley, even though he designated Dr. Faucett as his expert,  never provided any evidence that the defendants violated the standard of care.  The trial court granted summary judgment mostly because Haley never presented an expert on causation. The Miss.Ct. of Appeals affirms.

Khambraya Stanley et al v. Scott Petroleum –  premises liability – the plaintiffs were at a gas station  standing between the walk-up window and a set of vending shelves containing drinks for purchase. A car at the nearby intersection was malfunctioning and the driver drove it into the gas station where it  entered the gas-station parking lot traveling at approximately forty-five miles per hour, knocked over some shelves which his Stanley.   Stanley sued the gas station arguing “that patrons standing at the walk-up window were not protected from vehicles in or around the gas-station parking lot. Stanley states Scott Petroleum acknowledged the potentially dangerous condition by erecting concrete bollards around the store, gas pumps, and power pole, as well as including a warning sign stating: “Caution! Be safe and alert. Watch out for moving vehicles.” Stanley further argues that concrete bollards should have been placed around the walk-up window for the protection of Scott Petroleum’s customers.”  The trial court granted summary judgment and  the Miss.Court of Appeals affirms finding that Stanley did nothing to distinguish her case from the line of cases that hold “that there is  no duty owed by a convenience store owner, to persons inside the store, to erect barriers in order to prevent vehicles from driving through the store’s plate glass window.”

The Court states, “We note the Mississippi Supreme Court’s recent decision in a similar premises liability case in which it reversed and remanded to reinstate the jury verdict for the plaintiff. Cheeks v. AutoZone Inc., 2013-CA-00401-SCT, 2014 WL 4748099 (Miss. 2014).”   “This case is distinguishable in that Stanley did not produce evidence to create a genuine issue of fact as was produced in Cheeks. Stanley did not produce evidence of similar accidents. Nor did she offer any expert testimony, conduct depositions, or obtain any affidavits in support of her position.”

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