Articles Posted in Negligence

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There are countless details to consider when you lose a loved one, so families tend to be busy, overwhelmed, and very (understandably) emotional for a period of time after the loss occurs. Of course, your family member’s cause of death is often the last thing you want to think about at such a stressful time in your life, but if you feel that your loved one was the victim of wrongful conduct by another person or corporation (including medical malpractice), you should know that you may be entitled to certain “damages”.

Where these types of cases are concerned, “damages” most often refer to compensation for expenses such as hospital bills, funeral costs, and other costs associated with the person’s death.

There are two types of legal remedies available to the families of deceased victims of wrongful conduct: wrongful death and survivors’ action. Family members may pursue one of these, both separately, or both remedies as part of a single lawsuit.

Zofran is a drug which was approved by the FDA for use among patients undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, and other surgical procedures which cause nausea and vomiting. Zofran has also been prescribed fairly frequently off-label, to pregnant women who experience severe morning sickness. Studies on the risk of birth defects among women taking Zofran have shown conflicting results; one study done in 2013, which was based on 900,000 births, found a 30 percent increase in the risk of Zofran birth defects as well as double the risk of heart defects.

Another study done in 2012 by the Center for National Birth Defects Research and Prevention reported cleft palate birth defects in babies born to mothers who took the drug during the first trimester, noting these cleft palate birth defects were 2.4 times more likely to occur. The Toronto Star went through FDA adverse event reports on Zofran, finding two infant deaths and multiple cases of infants born with kidney and heart defects. GSK’s own fetal safety data is actually based on fewer than 200 births. Animal studies were done on pregnant rabbits and mice with a gestational period of 33 and 21 days, respectively. In these animal studies Zofran was given after day seven, completely missing the equivalent of a human’s first trimester. It was clear from these studies that Zofran does cross the placental barrier.

How Zofran Works Zofran contains ondansetron hydrochloride dehydrate which is a 5HT3 antagonist. When the brain receives specific nerve messages from the brain, vomiting can result. Radiation and chemotherapy, as well as some other types of surgical procedures, can send serotonin into the stomach and the brain, releasing nausea messages from the brain. Zofran blocks those messages, preventing the patient from suffering nausea and vomiting.


The recent Mississippi appellate case Elliot v. First Security Bank arose out of a slip and fall. A woman sued a bank for a shoulder injury she experienced after falling on the sidewalk in front of the bank. She and her son had gone to a restaurant downtown to eat. They couldn’t find parking in front of the restaurant, and the woman had a whiskey drink before dinner. After dinner, the woman and her son went back to the car. As she walked to the passenger side of the car, she tripped on the uneven pavement and fell. Although the sidewalk is owned by the city, the bank maintained an easement on it.

The woman got medical care at the local hospital. Doctors told her she had hurt her rotator cuff. She had surgery to repair her rotator cuff and went to physical therapy. The woman asserted that the injury led to medical bills, as well as job loss. The woman sued the city and the bank. She argued that, even though there was no mutual benefit to her being on the sidewalk, she should still be considered the bank’s invitee. Premises liability law requires property owners to show the highest degree of care towards invitees. The woman also argued that the city’s duty should be imputed to the bank because it owned a sidewalk easement. The woman settled with the city during mediation.

The bank filed a motion for summary judgment. It argued it didn’t have a duty to the woman at all because it was closed, she wasn’t using the ATM, and she wasn’t doing business at the bank. She was only there because her car was parked there, and therefore she was not an invitee.


A recent appellate case arose when a man murdered his roommate, Andreas Galanis, in their apartment in Mississippi. The victim’s mother and sister sued the murderer as well as the company that owned the apartment complex. They argued that the owner of the apartments negligently failed to warn the victim of the murderer’s violent tendencies.

The company that owned the apartments began leasing apartments at the complex in 2006. It marketed the apartments to college students, and among the original tenants was the murderer. The owner hired a management company to manage the apartments. The company instituted a policy of performing background checks on everyone who applied for new leases and those tenants who renewed their leases with an outside service.

When an applicant was not eligible to lease an apartment or renew a lease because of prior criminal history, the applicant received a letter about the negative results, but the owner did not receive a list regarding the criminal record. The murderer in this case sought to renew his lease in 2007, and his background check showed a prior criminal history. The owner told him his renewal application was denied. His attorney sent a letter to the owner, explaining he wasn’t a convicted felon and that he’s only been charged with credit card fraud. Although he had pled guilty, his case was non-adjudicated, which meant he had submitted to probation but wasn’t convicted. As a result, he was permitted to renew the lease.


In Heflin v. Merrill, the Mississippi Supreme Court considered an underinsured motorist case. The plaintiff sued her underinsured motorist insurance carrier after a car accident. The underinsured motorist carrier admitted liability and agreed to pay damages that were awarded, but the plaintiff wanted to tell the jury that the insurance company was a defendant.

The case arose when a man crashed into the back of a couple’s car. The wife sued the man’s estate and her underinsured motorist carrier. Before trial, the carrier admitted liability and offered to stipulate in writing that the wife was an insured under its policy and it would pay the final judgment in excess of the estate’s liability coverage. The insurer moved to exclude any reference about its role in the trial and exclude evidence that the woman’s car had underinsured motorist coverage. The trial court granted the carrier’s motion, reasoning that the underinsured motorist coverage was irrelevant to the issues to be considered at trial. It also reasoned that introducing evidence of the issue or revealing that the carrier was part of the trial might prejudice the jury when it determined damages.

During the trial, the defense made two objections regarding the at-fault driver’s statement he was sorry for the accident and the husband’s opinion about how fast the at-fault driver’s car was going. The husband was prepared to testify as to the apology, but the defense objected on grounds of hearsay. The trial judge sustained the objection. The trial judge noted that the statement wasn’t hearsay but still excluded it, saying that the person who made the statement was deceased and the defendant had admitted liability, so the statement would only inflame the jury.


The Supreme Court of Mississippi recently ruled in the case of Entergy Mississippi v. Mary Bethanne Acey. In the case, a minor was electrocuted on somebody else’s farmland. A man who worked for the owners of the land had parked his cotton picker under a sagging power line owned by Entergy Mississippi. The minor had climbed onto the picker, touched the power line, and suffered electrocution.

The man’s deposition showed that he and his son weren’t aware that the minor and the owner’s daughter were playing nearby. The man’s son saw a flash out of the corner of his eye. The man and his son began running towards the flash and found the minor on top of the picker. The son was able to move the minor and hand her to the man, who held her until the emergency responders arrived.

When the accident happened, the minor’s mother was driving to Moon Lake with her son and boyfriend. The 911 dispatcher called the boyfriend, who turned the car around. The dispatcher explained what had happened. The minor’s mother saw smoke coming out of her daughter’s skin, her skin flaking, fingers missing, and bones exposed, and she smelled burning flesh. The emergency responders arrived after the mother did.


In Cheeks v. AutoZONE, Inc., a Mississippi plaintiff was going into an AutoZone store when he was hit by a car driven by Jason Johnson. The plaintiff and a friend had gone to the store to buy car parts. The store had parking on two sides of the building. The building had a glass entryway that connected the storefront to a masonry wall. There were bollards on the storefront side and a raised sidewalk. However, cars on the north side faced a mostly solid wall. On the north side, there was no storefront, no raised sidewalks, nor any bollards. The plaintiff parked on the north side.

As the plaintiff opened the entrance door to the store, Johnson’s car was driving towards him. Before he could get behind a bollard for protection, the plaintiff was hit by Johnson’s car. He had serious injuries and sued both Johnson and the auto parts store. In the plaintiff’s view, the bollards were there to protect pedestrians on the raised walkway. On the morning of trial, the parties dismissed Johnson from the suit.

The plaintiff testified at trial that he had been working on 2-3 cars at his shop when his friend came to visit. They went to pick up a car jack and decided to stop at AutoZone to buy parts for cars. It was drizzling when they parked at the store. He knew that the bollards protected the storefront but not the other side. He also testified that he believed the bollards were there to stop a car from getting onto the sidewalk. He heard his friend warn him of Johnson’s oncoming car as he was walking up the handicap ramp. He had only a couple of seconds to react, and a store video showed that he tried to get protection behind a bollard.


In Bennett v. Highland Park Apartments, LLC, a woman and her minor children were tenants of an apartment complex. They were at home with a friend when around 8 pm, three people came into the apartment complex through an unguarded gate and forced their way into the apartment. The burglars asked where she kept drugs and money, and the woman and the guest were injured. The burglars left the property and were not apprehended.

The woman sued on behalf of herself and the kids against the apartment complex and the apartment manager. She claimed severe injuries and emotional and mental duress. The woman claimed she and her kids were invitees of the complex and that the complex failed in its duty to adequately and reasonably protect them as people who lived in the community. She claimed the complex failed to fix the gates, lighting, and surveillance cameras and failed to hire security guards. The complex denied it breached a duty owed to the woman or her kids or was otherwise responsible for the burglary.

The complex and manager filed motions to strike and to limit certain expert testimony. They alleged that there was no factual basis for the experts to render an opinion about causation in the plaintiff’s negligent security case. The complex and manager filed a motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff responded and asked the judge to recuse himself. The trial court denied the motion to recuse and stayed the cases. It later granted summary judgment to the complex and manager.


In general, there is no duty to take affirmative steps to help another person in Mississippi. However, the rules are a little bit different for businesses, which have a duty to act with reasonable care towards patrons. In a recent appellate case, a 67-year-old woman’s heart stopped while she was playing slots at the Isle of Capri-Natchez in Mississippi. She collapsed and a patron told the employees. They called an ambulance and did CPR.

The EMTs worked on her and her heart restarted, but her brain had been fatally injured from lack of oxygen. She spent a week on artificial life support, and then her husband stopped support. Her death certificated stated that her cause of death was cardiopulmonary arrest.

The husband sued the casino for wrongful death. He claimed the casino’s negligence was the cause of death and that the casino had a duty to give aid to his deceased wife by timely starting CPR or using an AED. In his view, the AED would have prevented her brain death.


Recently, a Mississippi man was killed in a cargo lift accident in Bay St. Louis, and two others were injured. This was the third such accident in Hanover County, and the city has called for routine safety inspections in response, telling homeowners to inspect their lifts at least once a year. Among other things, cargo lifts may need greasing and their cables checked at the inspection. The city makes sure that the lifts and the hookups are within the code, but it recommends that cargo lifts be restricted to lifting cargo.

The accident happened on a Saturday night. The decedent built the utility lift that was attached to his home after Hurricane Katrina. Shortly before the accident, he had tack welded a new floor to the bottom of the lift. The floor fell out under the utility lift, and they fell on concrete. The decedent’s friend and his friend’s son survived the accident with minor injuries.

In Mississippi, if you are hurt on somebody else’s property in a cargo lift or other accident, your ability to recover depends partly on your status on the property. Your status may be as an invitee, licensee, or trespasser. An invitee is somebody who enters property in response to an express or implied invitation of the owner for mutual advantage.

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