Decision – Miss.S.Ct. – June 22, 2017

Rodney Shelton Fulgham v. Clara Jacksonextension of time to serve process –  In February 2015, Jackson filed a complaint against Fulgham for damages arising
from a car accident.  A summons was issued the next day, and both the complaint and
summons stated that Fulgham was incarcerated at the Bolivar County Correctional Facility in Cleveland, Mississippi. Before the 120-day deadline to serve process expired, Jackson filed a motion for more time to serve Fulgham stating that she believed Fulgham had been moved to the Carroll-Montgomery County Regional Correctional Facility in Vaiden, Mississippi, and that additional time was needed to serve Fulgham due to his movement through the prison system. The trial judge granted the motion, giving Jackson an additional 120 days, until October 2, 2015, to serve process on Fulgham.  On September 23, 2015, Jackson filed a Second Motion for Enlargement of Time to Serve Process. In the motion, Jackson claimed that she had been advised that Fulgham would be returning to the correctional facility in Bolivar County but that never happened.   Jackson requested sixty more days which the court granted giving  Jackson until December 2, 2015, to serve Fulgham. She served him on  November 12, 2015, at the correctional facility in Carroll County.  Fulgham filed a motion to dismiss for failure to serve timely process.  The trial court denied the motion and Fulgham petitioned for an interlocutory appeal which the court granted. The S.Ct. affirms.  When an extension is sought before the time runs (regardless of whether is is a first, second or third extension),  the movant need only show cause, not good cause.  To the extent that  Johnson v. Thomas ex rel. Polatsidis, 982 So. 2d 405, 412 (Miss. 2008) holds that extension requests after the first require good cause, it is wrong where the extension is requested before the deadline has expired). Here Jackson showed both cause and good cause.

Jackson timely sought enlargements of time to serve process and, as shown below, did provide the trial judge with specific details concerning her attempts to
locate Fulgham. Based on the facts of this case and our deferential standard of review, we cannot conclude that the trial judge erred.

 

4 thoughts on “Decision – Miss.S.Ct. – June 22, 2017

  1. I rarely comment but a statement in this opinion literally made me shake my head. The defendants claimed that it was simple to ascertain an inmate’s location in the MDOC. Clearly he has never done so. I have actually driven to a facility only to find out that the computer records were not updated and my client had been moved miles away. It always pays to call and I have even had a MDOC employee tell me they aren’t sure where my client is. Seriously. My guy is in YOUR custody and you don’t know where he is??? Yep. Happened.

    • The only person I could ever get to help me at MDOC was Chris Epps and he’s not there anymore. There was and may still be an employee in the Greene County facility whose job it is to make the lives of lawyers a complete hell (like it’s not like that already). And I remember trying to see an inmate at the Meridian facility and getting a complete runaround for weeks. Found out why when I visited: all the employees hang out at the front door gossiping.

      • I am so glad you said that about Chris Epps. It is SO TRUE! For all of his flaws, he always took my call or called me back and he always, always, always found the answer. More than once he would tell me to “let him check” and he would call me back. He always did. And sometimes it was something he could have easily had a subordinate relay to me or my client.

        Many years ago – Epps was not commissioner at the time – I was trying to get an inmate home for a funeral. The circuit judge got SO frustrated with MDOC that he crafted an order releasing the inmate from MDOC custody into the custody of the local sheriff. It was probably not legally sound but it worked to get the job done. That was the first time I had an MDOC clerk tell me she didn’t know where the client was. This was pre internet so no way to look it up online. The deputies were directed to Parchman and then sent to Issaquena County. It was a cluster.

        If only it were as easy as the insurance defense lawyer in this case believes it to be!!

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