Decisions – Miss.S.Ct. – March 23, 2017

Pioneer Community Hospital of Newton and Dr. Bernard Boka v. Tyteanna D. Roberts, Individually, and on Behalf of all Wrongful Death Beneficiaries of Tina Roberts, Deceased – minors’ savings clause/wrongful death – Tina Roberts died in July  2010, shortly after being discharged from the emergency room at Pioneer Community Hospital in  Newton.  She was survived by  two minor children—sixteen-year-old Tyteanna and nine-year-old Breanna.  Two years later an attorney sent a notice of claim letter to the hospital and the ER doctor on behalf of the children. Tyteaanna turned 21 in July 2014.  In December she sent notice of claim letters. Six months later she filed suit. The defendants moved for summary judgment based on the two-year statute of limitations for med mal cases. The defendants admitted that the savings clause applied but argued that the statute began to run when an attorney sent a notice of claim letter  in 2012 or a few months later when Tyteanna’s aunt was appointed her guardian. The trial court denied the motion and the defendants filed an interlocutory appeal.  The Miss.S.Ct. affirms.

 To the extent we held in Curry that the mere existence of a person of majority age with statutory standing to file a wrongful-death suit prevents the application of the minors savings clause, we explicitly overrule this holding. See Curry, 832 So. 2d at 517. Instead, we find Curry should be limited to its facts—specifically the fact Betty Curry actually had filed suit on behalf of all the wrongful-death beneficiaries. Thus, it was the filing of the suit that triggered the “one-suit” rule and rendered the statute of limitations, and any tolling thereof, irrelevant, so long as the suit was pending. See Curry, 832 So. 2d at 516. See also Lee, 859 So. 2d at 990 (“[B]ecause of her disability of minority, [the minor beneficiary] was protected under § 15-1-59 until the suit was initially filed in her behalf. That action, however, commenced the running of the applicable statute(s) of limitations concerning subsequently filed suits arising from the same cause of action.”); Anderson, 913 So. 2d at 8 (“Thus, when any person statutorily entitled to do so files a wrongful death action, that action ensues for the benefit of all parties entitled to recover for the death.”).

Since Tyteanna’s aunt never filed a suit on her behalf, the minors’ savings clause applies.

 
Janice Michelle Wilcher  v. State of Mississippi –   retaliation against a public servant – Janice Wilcher had had three encounters with Deputy Micheal Townsend of the Scott County Sheriff’s Dept.  In the last one, he tried to stop her for speeding and she refused to stop until after her SUV ran off the road.  Townsend arrested her.  When they got to the jail, Wilcher accused Townsend of having  raped her.   There had been a witness at the location where Townsend had apprehended Wilcher and there was no physical evidence supporting Wilcher’s allegations.  She eventually told law enforcement she wanted to drop the charges. Wilcher was charged with retaliation against a public servant.  She gave a statement admitting she made the rape charge up. At trial the state introduced several letters written by Wilcher apologizing for making the false allegation.  Wilcher  took the stand and claimed the rape happened.  She was convicted.  On appeal she argues that the statute criminalizing retaliation against a public servant is  unconstitutionally vague.  She also argues that Townsend suffered no harm.  The Miss.S.Ct. affirms.

 

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