Decisions – COA – Jan. 5, 2016

Anita White v. Omar Nelsonlegal malpractice – White’s sister died in 2003 of thrombotic thrombocytopenic pupura, a rare side affect of taking Plavix.  White consulted with Sweet and Freese associate Omar Nelson  about a possible wrongful death case.  A medical expert Nelson consulted could find no fault with the treating physician.  Freese told Nelson to reject the case because filing it as a federal case would be expensive.   Nelson recommended some other attorneys and White hired one – Winston Thompson who filed suit in federal court against the manufacturers and in state court against the treating physician.   When Nelson left Sweet and Freese, Thompson asked him to assist on  the case. White ended up accepting a settlement of $280,000. Later Sweet found some files relating to White’s case and gave them to White and referred her to an attorney Greg Johnson who filed suit on White’s behalf against Nelson and others claiming that he had knowingly diverted the case from Sweet and Freese  and then settled the case for less than it was worth.  She also claimed that the state med mal was dismissed without her consent.  The trial court granted summary judgment on the claims arising out of the lawsuit filed in state court against the physician since White did not provide expert evidence that she would have prevailed.  The other claims were tried and a jury found for Nelson.  White appeals and the COA affirms.   “White contends, as she did before the jury, that had another attorney, such as Sweet, represented her, she would have received a higher settlement.”  The only evidence White had was that of Freese who opined that the case was worth some three to four million in state court.  But Freese admitted he never worked on a Plavix case.

Ashley Darville v. Hector Mejiaservice on the disappearing defendant -Darville and her mother were injured when Mejia’s vehicle swerved  into their lane on I-55.  Darville had problems serving Mejia and got three extensions. Eventually she served the secretary of state since Mejia was an out of state motorist.   The Secretary of State attempted to forward the summons to Mejia, but it was returned unclaimed.   An attorney hired by Mejia’s insurer eventually filed a motion to dismiss for failure to serve process.  The trial court dismissed the case with prejudice. On appeal, the COA reverses. “On appeal, we conclude that Darville exhibited good cause for not timely serving process on Mejia, and there was insufficient information to determine that the applicable statute of limitations had run. We reverse the circuit court’s dismissal with prejudice on this ground and remand for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.”

Howard Industries v. Bennie Satcherworkers comp –  Satcher was a welder at Howard Industries.  In 2011, he filed a petition to controvert, stating he injured his neck, shoulder, and arm while lifting and pulling at his welding job on September 15, 2010. The AJ found that Satcher had a total loss of wage-earning capacity and  awarded total disability benefits of $422.31 per week for 450 weeks and all medical services and supplies.  On appeal,  Howard Industries that  Satcher did not suffer a permanent and total disability and that he had the  ability to earn post-injury wages.  The COA affirms.

Kenneth Goldsmith v. State –  grand larceny – Kenneth R. Goldsmith was convicted of grand larceny in Rankin County Circuit Court. He was sentenced as a habitual offender to serve life without parole. He argues insufficient evidence and that his sentence is disproportionate. The COA affirms.

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