Mississippi Supreme Court Upholds Tragic Car Accident Verdict

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On August 5, 2010 the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld a $500,000 verdict obtained by Coxwell & Associates partner Charles R. “Chuck” Mullins. The link to the case is here. The tragic auto collision took place in Jackson, Hinds County, Mississippi.

Our clients, Edna and James Harris, lost their only son Desmonde in a tragic, senseless car accident. The other driver happened to be Jackson Police Officer Jeffrey Middleton. Middleton was driving towards Jackson on Highway 18 at speeds in excess of 100 mph when he ran a red light and smashed into Desmonde’s while he was trying to turn across the highway. Middelton did not have his emergency lights activated and was not even responding to a call. He was simply exhibiting extremely reckless conduct which ended up costing him his job and Desmonde Harris his life. Since Middelton was on duty at the time of the accident and acting within the scope of his employment as a police officer, the City of Jackson was responsible for his conduct pursuant to State law. This statute is known as the Mississippi Tort Claim Act and is found at 11-46-1 et. seq of the Mississippi Code Annotated.

The City of Jackson fought this case extremely hard all the way through. The City even filed a motion asking the Supreme Court to abate the interest and costs, over $50,000 worth, since the case was one of “first impression”. Interestingly, the City did not take issue with the Supreme Court’s decision finding them liable. We responded, very strongly, that the City’s request was improper since it was not raised in the initial brief. We have suggested that the City’s motion is nothing more than dilatory tactic to avoid paying the judgment. There is no timetable on when the Supreme Court will rule on the motion.

The Harris case is not a typical result. A week before our case was decided, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed a Tort Claim case where a Jackson police officer caused an accident at an intersection. The facts were not as egregious as our case. That case can be found here.

Charles R. “Chuck” Mullins at Coxwell & Associates has helped numerous clients over the years when they have been victims of serious automobile accidents. Learn more about Chuck and Coxwell & Associates by going to their website.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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