Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – March 12, 2015

Willie Kinzie v. Belk Department Storesdiscovery violation – Willie Kinzie sued Belk for injuries he sustained while unloading a trailer with merchandise at a Belk store.  The trial court dismissed the case on the grounds that Kinzie had misrepresented his injuries during discovery.  The Court of Appeals reversed finding that Kinzie had not misrepresented his injuries. The Miss.S.Ct. granted cert.

During discovery, Kinzie stated that he could not lift more than 20 pounds, couldn’t stoop or bend, and was limited to sedentary work.  The Defendants hired a private investigator who did surveillance over a 34 day period.  There was video of Kinzie working on a shed in his backyard.  Kinzie claimed that in working on the shed, he did not disobey any of his doctor’s instructions.  Unlike the COA, the Court did not find that the trial court was wrong when it determined that Kinzie committed a discovery violation. “Kinzie answered an interrogatory about the extent of his injuries in a way that the trial court thought was misleading. And here, although the trial court found Kinzie’s response to be false, the perceived falsehood arose in an isolated incident, and it certainly has not been established that Kinzie’s statements in discovery indicate any kind of pattern of misleading or false responses.”

Dismissal is appropriate only under the most extreme circumstances and only where  lesser sanctions will not suffice. Pierce, 688 So. 2d at 1388-89. This is not an extreme case, and lesser sanctions can deter misleading responses without dismissing Kinzie’s claims altogether. A jury will watch this video, and that may influence its ultimate determination. But a jury ought to make that ultimate determination, not the trial judge. The discovery violation at issue is not sufficiently extreme to justify a full and final dismissal of the case. We therefore affirm that portion of the judgment of the Court of Appeals which held that dismissal with prejudice was not warranted. We reverse the Court of Appeals’ finding that the trial court abused its discretion when it determined that Kinzie had committed a discovery violation. We reverse the judgment of the Circuit Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County dismissing the case with prejudice, and we remand the case for trial.

Lawrence Byrd v. State –  Byrd was convicted of manslaughter.  The Office of Indigent APpeals filed a Lindsey brief to the effect that it scoured the record and found no errors.  Byrd filed a pro se brief alleging ineffective assistance of counsel.   The S.Ct affirms.

Carl Richard Cook v. State – the Court denies rehearing but substitutes its earlier opinion.

The Court grants cert. in Rodrigue v. Rodrigue.  Here is Mitchell Rodrigue’s cert. petition. He argues, among other things, that 11 of her 12 assignments of error are procedurally barred.

A summary of the COA opinion follows:

Rodrigue v. Rodrigue – In this divorce, Deidi appeals the court’s division of the assets and the alimony. The Court affirms in part and reverses in part. The judge ordered that the marital home be sold but that Deidi should live there until it was sold with Mitch making the mortgage payments. Deidi argue that this was wrong because Mitch’s house payments would be tax deductible but that Deidi would have to report these payments as taxable income. The Court reverses this part of the order because the chancellor failed to consider the order’s impact on the estimated amount of taxes the parties would have to pay. The Court also reverses the chancellor’s allocation of the retirement accounts since the chancellor at first stated that they would each get half but then awarded Deidi $4,620 less than Mitch. As for alimony, the Court ordered Mitch pay off Deidi’s car note (with a balance of $13,562) and this would be appropriate lump sum alimony. The Court of Appeals finds this grossly unjust and reverses. As for Deidi’s claims that the chancellor should not have discontinued Mitch’s payments for one child’s private school, the chancellor can revisit this on remand.

And, as TBA notes, the Court grants the Defendants’ motion to dismiss in a case that challenged the cap on non economic damages.

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