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McMillan v. Puckett

May 16, 1996

DR. BEVERLY A. MCMILLAN AND MISSISSIPPI BAPTIST MEDICAL CENTER
V.
THOMAS D. PUCKETT AND TAMARA L. PUCKETT, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF THE WRONGFUL DEATH HEIRS OF SANDRA L. PUCKETT, DECEASED



DATE OF JUDGMENT:8/16/93

TRIAL JUDGE:HON. MARCUS D. GORDON

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED:LEAKE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE:CIVIL - WRONGFUL DEATH

MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED: 6/13/96

MANDATE ISSUED:8/29/96

EN Banc.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: McRAE, Justice

¶1. In this Interlocutory Appeal from an order of the Leake County Circuit Court denying the appellants' motion for a change of venue, we are asked to consider where venue is proper in a wrongful death action. We find that the circuit court correctly ruled that venue was proper in Leake County, where Sandra Puckett died, and conclude that a wrongful death action may be brought in the county where the death occurred, thus commencing the cause of action, or in the county where the wrongful act causing the death took place pursuant to Miss. Code Ann. § 11-11-3, which provides that venue is proper where the cause of action occurred or accrued.

I.

¶2. Thomas and Tamara Puckett filed a wrongful death action in the Leake County Circuit Court on December 8, 1992, seeking damages for the death of their infant daughter, Sandra Puckett. The complaint alleged that after Tamara Puckett was admitted to the Mississippi Baptist Medical Center in labor on June 29, 1991, Dr. McMillan was negligent in her examination and treatment of the mother and her yet unborn child; that Dr. McMillan failed to advise the Pucketts of the risks associated with the various medical procedures performed upon both mother and baby and failed to obtain their informed consent; and that the Medical Center, through its employees, was negligent in its treatment of both Tamara and Sandra Puckett. The negligent acts, deviations from the standard of care, and lack of informed consent which occurred on June 29, 1991 in Hinds County, Mississippi, are alleged to have resulted ultimately in the infant's death on December 31, 1991 in Leake County, Mississippi, causing the Puckett family extreme mental anguish and anxiety.

¶3. Dr. McMillan resides in and practices medicine in Hinds County, Mississippi. The Medical Center, likewise has its sole place of business in Hinds County. Consequently, the defendants moved for a change of venue from Leake County to the First Judicial District of Hinds County. That motion was denied on August 20, 1993. The circuit court found that the cause of action had accrued in Leake County and therefore, that venue was proper there. Dr. McMillan then requested certification for an interlocutory appeal which was denied by the trial court but subsequently granted by this Court. McMillan v. Puckett, 641 So. 2d 757 (Miss. 1994).

II.

¶4. Dr. McMillan and the Medical Center contend that venue is proper only in Hinds County, where the events that are alleged to have caused Sandra Puckett's death took place, and not in Leake County, where she died. We disagree.

¶5. Wrongful death action in Mississippi are controlled by Miss. Code Ann. § 11-7-13, which, in relevant part, provides:

Whenever the death of any person shall be caused by any real, wrongful or negligent act or omission . . . as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured or damaged thereby to maintain an action and recover damages in respect thereof . . . and such deceased person shall have left a widow or children or both, or husband or father or mother, or sister, or brother, the person or corporation, or both that would have been liable if death had not ensued, and the representatives of such person shall be liable for damages, notwithstanding the death . . . .

The statute makes no provision for the venue of such actions. Instead, we turn to the general venue statute, Miss Code Ann. ยง 11-11-3, ...


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