Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

SAMUEL C. JONES v. CLARA HATCHETT

MARCH 04, 1987

SAMUEL C. JONES
v.
CLARA HATCHETT



BEFORE WALKER, C.J., DAN LEE AND GRIFFIN, JJ.

WALKER, C.J., FOR THE COURT:

Clara Hatchett filed suit against Samuel C. Jones in the Circuit Court of Yazoo County for injuries and property damage arising out of an automobile accident. The jury returned a verdict for Hatchett and awarded her $20,000.00. From a judgment entered pursuant to that verdict, Jones appeals, making seven (7) assignments of error.

At approximately 3:45 p.m. on July 26, 1982. Clara Hatchett was driving east on a gravel road toward Highway 49 near Yazoo City, Mississippi. After stopping where the gravel road intersected the Highway 44 frontage road, she drove her newly restored 1964 Comet onto the frontage road. According to Hatchett's testimony, her car died, blocking the southbound lane of the frontage road, and partially blocking the northbound lane. After attempting to start the car for approximately one minute, she saw a light blue Ford approaching in the southbound lane. At trial she estimated its speed to have been sixty (60) miles per hour. The Ford skidded for a distance, which Hatchett later measured to be one hundred and five (105) feet, and then struck Hatchetts car. She suffered bruises and a neck injury which subsequent tests revealed to be a fracture of the seventh cervical vertebra. Although the investigating officer offered to call an ambulance, Hatchett had her son drive her to a nearby physician's office. Jones, who was driving the Ford that struck Hatchett's car, claimed that she saw him approach, and that her car engine was running as he approached. He further testified that after the accident, he turned off the ignition in her car.

 Neither Dr. Gilder, who treated Hatchett the day of the accident, nor Dr. Walwyn, her regular physician, took x-rays. Both physicians recommended massages and heat treatments. Because these measures afforded her little relief, Hatchett eventually went to another physician, Dr. Hogue, who diagnosed a fracture of the seventh cervical vertebra and suggested treatment similar to that recommended by the other two (2) physicians.

 At the time of trial, Hatchett was suffering from what she described as" a lung disease; "her arm would sometimes go to sleep, and her head hurt. She testified that her injuries were aggravated by her employment, in which she was required to look up and down to count items in a stock room. She admitted, however, that she had only missed one day of work as a result of her injuries, and

 that she had received two (2) pay increases since the date of the accident.

 A civil engineer called as a witness by Hatchett testified that the entire top of Hatchett's car could have been seen by a southbound driver at a point four hundred and thirty-four (434) feet from the point of impact. In addition, he testified that a car traveling at a speed of fifty (50) miles per hour (the applicable speed limit) should be able to stop in three hundred and twenty-seven (327) feet, allowing two and a half (2) seconds for reaction time. The engineer also testified that, at the point of impact, there was ample room to go around Hatchett's car on either side. Jones testified that he did not see Hatchett's car until he" topped the hill, "which he claimed was approximately one hundred and fifteen (115) feet from her car; although he tried to stop, his brakes locked, and his vehicle slid into Zatchett's automobile.

 After hearing the evidence, the jury returned a verdict for Hatchett and awarded her $20,000.00 in damages. From a judgment entered on that verdict, Jones appeals, assigning seven (7) errors.

 I. DID THE TRIAL COURT ERR IN ALLOWING HATCHETT TO TESTIFY REGARDING HER TREATMENT BY DR. HOGUE?

 III. DID THE TRIAL COURT ERR IN ALLOWING DR. HOGUE TO TESTIFY?

 IV. DID THE TRIAL COURT ERR IN ALLOWING DR. HOGUE TO GIVE AN OPINION AS TO HATCHETT'S PERMANENT DISABILITY?

 Because these three (3) assignments all deal with Hatchett's failure to supplement responses to interrogatories, they will be considered together.

 In December 13, 1983, Jones propounded interrogatories to Hatchett, asking, inter alia, what physicians she had seen; her complaints and symptoms presented to each physician; any disability given by a physician; and the treatment, if any, given by each physician. The response to this interrogatory did not mention Dr. Charles Hogue, whom Hatchett had not seen at the time the response was submitted to Jones. She was first treated by Dr. Hogue on April 19, 1984. On or about November 11, 1984, - four (4) days before trial - plaintiff Hatchett's counsel telephoned defendant Jones's counsel and stated that Hatchett

 had seen Dr. Hogue, and that Dr. Hogue would be called as a witness. Although Jones's attorney responded," That's fine, "he objected at trial when Hatchett attempted to testify about seeing Dr. Hogue, and objected again when Dr. Hogue was called to testify. Over these objections, Hatchett was allowed to testify about her treatment by Dr. Hogue, and Dr. Hogue himself was allowed to testify. Because the medical reports which were provided to defense counsel during discovery do not appear in the record, it is difficult to determine precisely what information about the neck injury was made available in response to Jones' interrogatories. The record does indicate, however, that Dr. Hogue was the only physician who diagnosed the neck injury as a fracture. Hatchett had not seen Dr. Hogue at the time the responses to interrogatories were submitted, so we may safely assume that no such diagnosis appeared in the medical records made available to defense counsel. On direct examination Dr. Hogue testified, apparently to defense counsel's complete surprise, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.