Articles Posted in Mississippi

A Mississippi Appeals court recently affirmed a trial court decision to throw out a Wal-Mart premise liability case involving a damaged container and corrosive burns. Instead of letting the events (and the injuries) speak for themselves, the court places an extremely high evidentiary expectation that was out of the plaintiff’s grasp. Should courts be allowing corporations to escape liability just because the plaintiff is unable to show every single detail of the accident when he is clearly injured? It is a challenge courts have wrestled with for hundreds of years.

What happened? A patron visited a Mississippi Wal-Mart in the fall of 2010. While perusing the aisles, he selected a bottle of bleach to put in his basket. After leaving the checkout counter, the patron realized he accidentally forgot to purchase the bleach and placed the bottle on his lap to return to the cashier. Unfortunately, this bottle of bleach was leaking and spilled its contents on his legs and thighs. Because of a prior injury, the man had been paralyzed from the waist down since 1967 and he did not become aware of the spilled bleach until the cashier noticed the leaking bottle. The bleach caused chemical burns on his thigh and knee, and he brought suit against the Wal-Mart Corporation.

The patron filed a premise liability claim that alleged Wal-Mart was negligent and had knowledge of a dangerous condition. Wal-Mart made a motion for summary judgment, and the trial court dismissed the case, saying that the patron failed to prove Wal-Mart’s negligent act. The Mississippi Appeals Court affirmed the lower court’s decision.

Mississippi law and Mississippi jurors give slip and fall victims a fair shake.  Here are some recent slip and fall cases is Mississippi.

Mississippi Slip and Fall Verdicts and Settlements

  • 2021, Mississippi: $811,507 Verdict. A supermarket employee tripped over a pallet jack in a cluttered back room. She suffered a sacral fracture and radiating spinal pain. The woman underwent a C3-4 fusion. She alleged negligence against her employer. The woman claimed it failed to maintain a safe workplace. A jury awarded $811,507.

A former Mississippi State University baseball player has filed a lawsuit against the school’s baseball coach. The lawsuit claims the player was forced to pitch while injured.

The lawsuit adds in an allegation that to me diminishes the credibility of the lawsuit. Plaintiff claims the coach “forced” his team to practice more during the week than was allowed by NCAA regulations. First of all, you don’t have to force many college kids to play baseball. And that alleged forcing has nothing to do with his injuries. The purpose of the claim is to expose an evil that has nothing to do with the lawsuit, really. Moreover, the player had a choice to pitch or not pitch. He chose to pitch.

Cases like this – rightly or wrongly – rub me the wrong way. I have a lot of clients minding their own business, driving down the street and someone comes across the double yellow line drunk and hits them. These people never had a choice. This young man had a choice and made it.

The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed a directed verdict for a hospital in a nursing medical malpractice action in which the plaintiff suffered IV infiltration – leakage of fluid from an IV into the patient’s tissues from an IV line – and burn injuries.

The directed verdict from the trial court struck Plaintiffs’ expert from testifying as to the standard of care even though the expert had already been accepted as an expert on the nursing care given by the hospital. Had the expert been permitted to testify, she would have testified as to the standard of care for IV infiltrations and that the hospital breached that standard.

The Mississippi high court also make a good call for plaintiffs on the question of the collateral source set off when the amount of the liens/bills have been reduced.

The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of nursing home abuse neglect claim because the plaintiff failed to provide 60 days’ notice of the intention to file a medical malpractice action against a health care provider as required under Mississippi Code Section 15-1-36(15). This statute requires Mississippi nursing home and medical malpractice plaintiffs to health care provider’s sixty (60) days’ prior written notice notifying the defendant of the legal basis of the claim and the type of loss sustained, including with specificity the nature of the injuries suffered.

This statute comes from Mississippi’s disastrous tort reform act passed in 2002 that, among other things, establishes a cap on noneconomic damages of $ 500,000 for lawsuits filed before July 1, 2011, a cap of $ 750,000 for those filed after July 1, 2011, but before July 1, 2017, and a cap of $ 1,000,000 for those filed thereafter.

I do not have a problem with the ruling because it is a correct interpretation of the Mississippi law. But the law accomplishes nothing in this case but to deny a Plaintiff the right to justice.

I received the following email regarding my post concerning from Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver E. Diaz, Jr.’s recent dissenting opinion in a wrongful death case:

Dear Mr. Miller,

Thank you for the recent post on your blog concerning the banning of my dissent at the Mississippi Supreme Court. Your comments were right on point and it is indeed incredible that the majority of my court voted to ban my dissent in the wrongful death case. I am currently running for re-election to the court and am opposed by forces that want to implement further tort reform measures. I would appreciate it if you would provide a link to my campaign website in case anyone would like more information about my campaign. The address is www.justiceoliverdiaz.com. Again, thank you for your comments.

The Mississippi Supreme Court – an elected body that has a recent history of siding with defendants in personal injury cases – attempted to bar a dissenting opinion from Justice Oliver Diaz, Jr. in a wrongful death case. Diaz dissented with the majority’s decision to remand Mississippi Veterans Affairs Board v. Kraft.

Justice Diaz argued in his dissent of a wrongful death case that the statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits begins at the time of the injury, not on the date of death. “The obvious result is that a wrongful death action may expire before the decedent does,” Justice Diaz wrote.

Justice Diaz is no stranger to the crazy world of Mississippi politics. In 2005, a jury cleared Justice Diaz of all bribery charges. His ex-wife, however, pled guilty to tax evasion and was sentenced to two years’ probation. But the logic of his argument – that wrongful death claims start at the time of death – is so manifestly obvious that defense lawyers in other jurisdictions would not even make the argument.

A truck driver whose wife was tragically killed at a crossing at a Mississippi truck stop failed to allege facts sufficient to defeat a motion for directed verdict, Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision. Plaintiff’s lawyers had alleged that the truck stop operators negligently failed to provide adequate lighting and had placed a propane tank and advertising in its parking lot, obstructing the view of pedestrians and drivers of oncoming traffic. But the Mississippi Supreme Court found that the danger of crossing the public roadway should have been obvious to the truck driver’s wife. Four of the judges disagreed, finding that even though the truck stop did not own the area in question, there was testimony at trial that it was generally known that truckers parked in the area, even those that were not customers at the truck stop. Unfortunately for the Plaintiff, he was one judge short.

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