Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – Feb. 2, 2017


Sanderson Farms, Inc. and George Varnado v. D. D. McCullough – SOL –  D.D. McCullough was injured when he was struck by a vehicle driven by  George Varnado,  an employee of Sanderson Farms.  Varnado had been on McCullough’s property to conduct an inspection of McCullough’s chicken houses.   Varnado was inside his truck writing a report citing McCullough with deficiencies when McCullough came up to the window and challenged Varnodo’s findings.

McCullough continued to urge Varnardo to “get out and talk.” Without warning or a discernable request to leave the property,  Varnado then “mashed the gas,” striking McCullogh with the vehicle. This contact forced McCullough back roughly two feet but did not cause him to fall. He again urged Varnado to get out and talk, but Varnado refused and instead moved his truck “straightforward,” hitting McCullough a second time. McCullough again stumbled backward, though he did not fall.

This took place on May 24, 2010. McCullough filed a negligence suit on  June 17, 2011.  Sanderson Farms moved to dismiss arguing that these were intentional tort claims and the SOL of one year had expired. The circuit court denied the motion.  The Miss.S.Ct. granted an interlocutory appeal and reverses agreeing that McCollough’s claims were for intentional torts barred by the one-year SOL.

Caleb Corrothers  v. State of Mississippi – improper jury contact – Caleb Corrothers was found guilty of killing two people in the course of a robbery.  In July, 2009,  Taylor Clark was pursued into the trailer where he lived with his parents and brother.  His pursuer was a black man who insisted Taylor, a sometimes pot dealer, owed him $5,000. Taylor and his father were killed by gunshots.  The mother was shot in the neck but survived.  Thus, at trial, the evidence consisted mostly of the eyewitness identification by the mother (who had been injured) and the brother (who had previously suffered two head injuries) as well as a jailhouse snitch.     His case was affirmed on direct appeal.  This is his pcr.  He raises ten issues and the Court grants him a hearing on one – his claim, supported by affidavits from Carrothers’ mother and cousin, that they observed  a female juror improperly communicating with Tonya Clark (the mother) during the trial.

In three cases the Court continues to rule that inmates sentenced prior to the enactment of HB 585 are not entitled to parole plans.

Michael Drankus  v. Mississippi Parole Board

Mississippi Department of Corrections v. Sandy Roberts

Mississippi Department of Corrections v. Martin Groot


The Court grants cert in two cases:
Timothy Vivians v. Baptist HealthPlex, Becky Vrieland and Helen Wilson (the link is to the COA opinion)– premises liability – Vivians filed a lawsuit against Baptist Healthplex; Becky Vrieland, Baptist’s aquatics director; and Helen Wilson, an employee of Baptist Health Systems alleging negligence arising out of an accident wherein in February 2008, he  slipped and fell backward upon entering Baptist’s therapy pool.  Vivians claimed that “[t]he Defendants had a duty of reasonable care to warn [him] of the danger of hi[s] being left unattended in the therapy pool, to keep its premises in a safe condition, and to prevent the injuries suffered by [Vivians] from occurring.” The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendants and Vivians appeals.  The COA affirms.

On cert Viviens argues that the COA  erred when it did not consider the fact that the Appellee Baptist Health Plex had actual knowledge of a danger to its invitees to include the Appellant who used its therapy pool and that the evidence of subsequent slips and falls on the therapy pool steps should have been admitted because they tend to establish that the steps posed a dangerous condition.


Trevioun Briggs v. State of Mississippi  – (the link is to the COA opinion) –  witness tampering instruction Briggs was charged with robbery and tampering with a witness.  A woman shopping at  Northpark Mall was robbed of her bags in the parking lot in 2013.  Briggs was arrested when he tried to return some of the items that night.  At trial he represented with a  public defender’s assistance. He was convicted and sentenced to fifteen years for robbery and two years for tampering with a witness  with the sentences to run consecutively. On appeal he argues he argues that (1) the circuit court erred by not properly instructing the jury regarding the case being circumstantial; (2) his counsel was constitutionally ineffective for failing to request a proper circumstantial-evidence jury instruction; (3) the indictment for witness tampering was flawed; (4) the evidence was insufficient to convict him of witness tampering; and (5) the two charges are subject to reversal for retroactive misjoinder. The COA affirms. The Miss.S.Ct. grants cert. on the claim that the indictment and instruction on witness tampering were erroneous.

Briggs argues that the indictment and instruction was erroneous  with regard to the witness tampering charge because the statute states the tampering is done to “a person  he believed  will be called as a witness” while the indictment  specified  “a person he believed may be called as a witness” and the instruction was for “a person he believed would or could be called as a witness.”






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