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Jones v. Panola County

May 14, 1998

RANDY E. JONES
v.
PANOLA COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI



DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/13/96 TRIAL JUDGE: HON. ANDREW C. BAKER COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: PANOLA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

Before Prather, C.j., Smith And Waller, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Prather, Chief Justice

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - PERSONAL INJURY

DISPOSITION REVERSED

MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED:

MANDATE ISSUED:

STATEMENT OF THE FACTS AND CASE

¶1. Randy E. Jones ("Jones") was injured on September 21, 1993 when his pickup truck collided with a gravel pile located on Sardis Landfill Road in Panola County, Mississippi. The gravel pile had been built by the Panola County road department as a barrier to an out-of-service bridge located on the road. The county had placed "Bridge Out" and "Road Closed" traffic warning signs on the road, but the signs had been knocked down at the time of the accident. Jones suffered fractures, lacerations, and contusions to his face as a result of the accident, and his injuries required surgery at a hospital in Memphis.

¶2. Jones' medical expenses totaled $122,919.82, and he also suffered property damages, lost wages, and partial impairment as a result of the accident. Jones filed suit against Panola County on September 6, 1994, alleging negligence on the part of the County. A jury trial was held on March 11, 1996 through March 13, 1996, and the jury returned a verdict for Panola County after less than 30 minutes of deliberation. On July 8, 1996, Jones filed an appeal to this Court.

ISSUES

I. Whether the trial court erred in denying Jones' motion for new trial on grounds that the trial court committed reversible error by denying Jones' motion in limine concerning seat belt use evidence and in allowing evidence of Jones' nonuse of a safety belt at the time of the accident to be presented at trial.

¶3. Jones argues that the trial court committed reversible error in denying his motion in limine to prohibit the admission at trial of evidence that he was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. Jones filed this motion on March 11, 1996, citing Miss. Code Ann. § 63-2-3 (1996), which provides that:

This chapter shall not be construed to create a duty, standard of care, right or liability between the operator and passenger of any passenger motor vehicle which is not recognized under the laws of the State of Mississippi as such laws exist on the date of passage of this chapter or as such laws may at any time thereafter be constituted by statute or court decision. Failure to provide and use a seat belt restraint device or system shall not be considered ...


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