Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. -Sept. 15, 2016

North American Midway Entertainment, LLC, Mid-America Shows Transportation, Inc. and North American Midway Entertainment-Amusement South, Inc. v. Tommy W. Murray and Kelli E. Murray – statute of limitations –  In  May of 2009, there was an accident on an interstate exit ramp in Louisiana.  The Murrays filed suit against Germany in Mississippi in May 2012.  The SOL in Louisiana is one year.  In Mississippi, it is three years.  Germany moved to dismiss the case based on Louisiana’s  one year SOL.  The trial court denied the motion and Germany sought an interlocutory appeal.  The Miss.S.Ct. reverses and renders.

Under Mississippi Code Annotated Section 15-1-65, when a cause of action has accrued in another state and is time-barred there, it cannot be maintained in Mississippi. The one exception is “where such a cause of action has accrued in favor of a resident of this state,” which is not the case here. Id. Here, Tommy and Kelli Murray’s action accrued in Louisiana. But by the time they filed their action in Mississippi, Louisiana’s one-year statute of limitations had passed.2 Because they could no longer file an untimely action in Louisiana, they were likewise barred from filing suit in Mississippi. We therefore reverse the trial court’s denial of the defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint, in which they asserted Section 15-1-65’s clear bar. We render a judgment in the defendants’ favor.

Wesley Health System, LLC d/b/a Wesley Medical Center v. Estate of Jackie Katherine Love, Deceased, Edward Lavonne Love, as Personal Representative and Executor, on behalf of the Estate of Jackie Katherine Love, Deceased, and Edward Lavonne Love, Clara Grace Love, a Minor, and Hannah Victoria Love, a Minor, all Individually and as Heirs and Wrongful Death Beneficiaries of Jackie Katherine Love, Deceased – default judgment –  In March of  2013, Jackie Love was admitted to Wesley for gastrointestinal bleeding. In April 2013, while still at Wesley, Mrs. Love contracted sepsis and passed away on May 13, 2013.  Her husband filed suit and ended up obtaining a default judgment.   The trial court denied Wesley’s motion to set aside the default judgment and entered a final judgment against Wesley awarding Love $1,784,715.18 in compensatory and punitive damages and attorney’s fees.  Wesley appealed arguing that the trial court erred by not allowing Wesley to cross-examine the process server on the disputed issue of whether process was served upon Wesley’s registered agent.  “[W]e further hold that the trial court also erred by failing to apply the three-part balancing test articulated by the Court in determining whether to set aside a default judgment. See Woodruff v. Thames, 143 So. 3d 546, 552 (¶14) (Miss. 2014). Accordingly, we reverse and remand with instructions consistent with the instant opinion.”

Como Steak House, Inc., The Windy City Grille, LLC, May’s Como Rental, LLC, Como Courtyard, LLC, Little Red Dot, LLC, Orr Family Farm Trust, Mike Taylor Bartlett, Marguerite Jemison Bartlett, Earnestine Bridgeforth, Dorothy Kerney Wilbourn, Virginia L. Young, Virginia Porter Graves, Miriam Atkinson Smith and Betty Orr Atkinson v. Board of Supervisors of Panola County, Mississippi and H & G Land Company, L. P.zoning – H&G Land Company, L.P. filed an application with the Panola County Land Development Commission for a special exception to Panola County’s Land Use District Ordinance to extract sand and gravel on its property. When the Commission failed to approve the request, H&G appealed to the Panola County Board of Supervisors  which reversed the Commission.  Local businesses and residents opposed to the exception appealed.  The circuit court affirmed as does the Miss.S.Ct.

Milton Trotter v. State of Mississippi pcr denial affirmed equally divided court – by  Trotter was sentenced to two life sentences – one by the feds and one by the state – for a kidnapping and murder that involved the same incident.  In 1981, the circuit court  ordered, based on Trotter’s plea agreement with the State, that his state sentence would run concurrently with the federal sentence and that Trotter would be allowed to serve the  sentence in the federal penitentiary.  In 2011, when Trotter had served thirty years on the federal kidnapping sentence, he was paroled from federal custody. The Mississippi Parole Board denied his parole on the murder sentence, and Trotter was moved from federal prison to Parchman.  Trotter filed two pcrs.  This appeal involves the second one and he claims his plea was not voluntary.   The trial court found the motion to violate the prohibition against successor petitions.  The COA affirmed.  The Miss.S.Ct. granted cert.  Four vote to affirm and four to reverse and, thus, the case is affirmed.
David McKean, Francesco Medina, Donald Arrington and Wayne Robertson v. Yates Engineering Corporation, Anderson Regional Medical Center, and Foil Wyatt Architects and Planners, PLLC –  construction accident/duty of architects/ability of undocumented immigrant  to sue –    The plaintiffs were working for a subcontractor constructing the expansion of  Anderson Regional Medical Center’s “Medical Towers III”  in Meridian when they fell to the ground after scaffolding collapsed.  The plaintiffs sued Yates Construction which built the scaffolding.   In a federal court dec. action filed by an insurer,  the U.S.D. Ct. for the Southern Dt. held that Yates Construction was the statutory employer of the subcontractor  and it was therefore immune from suit under tort theories. The circuit court subsequently dismissed the plaintiffs’ suit against Yates Construction. In the state court action, the court granted summary judgment for  Yates Engineering, Foil Wyatt (architects), and Anderson Regional.  The COA affirms  finding that  Anderson Regional had no control over the construction and the agreement with Foil-Wyatt immunized it for construction means. The Miss. S.Ct. granted cert and also affirms but writes to clarify  “(1) whether this Court has adopted the seven-factor test used in Hanna v. Huer, Johns Neel, Rivers, & Webb, 662 P.2d 243 (Kan. 1983) superceded by statute, as recognized in Edwards v. Anderson Engineering, Inc., 166 P.3d 1047 (Kan. 2007), to determine whether an architect’s supervisory powers go beyond the provisions of the contract; and (2) to clarify this Court’s position on the effect of an ‘undocumented immigrant’ status on recovery for workplace injuries.”  

We now clarify our position on the supervisory dutyof architects and adopt the sevenfactor test used in Hanna, to determine whether an architect’s supervisory powers go beyond the specific provisions of the contract. These Hanna factors are to be used as guidance and are not exhaustive. We also reaffirm our previous holding that for an architect to have an affirmative duty to warn of dangerous conditions, the architect must “by contract or conduct” take on the responsibility to maintain the safety of the construction project. Jones v. James Reeves Contractors, Inc., 701 So. 2d 774, 785 (Miss. 1997). If the architect does take on a duty to supervise, “the supervision of safety is encompassed in the duty to supervise, and no separate agreement to supervise safety is necessary where the architect is supervising the details of every other aspect of the project.” Id.

As for undocumented immigrants, “We clarify that this Court’s decision in Price does not prevent an undocumented immigrant from bringing a negligence claim against his employer.” 

Russell Real Property Services, LLC v. The State of Mississippi, by and through Delbert Hosemann, in his Official Capacity as Secretary of State and Trustee of the Public Tidelands Trust, and The City of Pass Christian, Mississippi –  inverse condemnation –  In November 2013, Russell Real Property Services filed suit alleging that a taking occurred when the State of Mississippi entered into a lease on September 24, 2010, with the City of Pass Christian.    The State argued that Russell Real Property did not own the property  on September 24, 2010 and lacked standing.  The State also argued that the SOL had run.  The trial court agreed with the state and dismissed the case.  The Miss.S.Ct. affirms.


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