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Jones v. Jitney Jungle Stores of America

November 19, 1998

GREGORY ALLAN JONES AND CONNIE DARLENE JONES, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS PARENTS OF JEREMY ADAM JONES, DECEASED; AND AS PARENTS AND NEXT FRIENDS OF DEVIN TYLER JONES, A MINOR
v.
JITNEY JUNGLE STORES OF AMERICA, INC. AND MCCARTY-HOLMAN COMPANY



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

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/20/95

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. ROBERT G. EVANS

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: SIMPSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - WRONGFUL DEATH

DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED - 11/19/98

EN BANC.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

¶1. Greg and Connie Jones filed this wrongful death action against Jitney Jungle Stores of America and McCarty-Holman Company after their three-year old son was hit by a car and died in the parking lot of the Jitney Jungle store in Magee, Mississippi. A Simpson County jury found for Jitney Jungle. The Court of Appeals affirmed the circuit court. Certiorari having been granted by this court, the appellants assign the following as error:

I. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN EXCLUDING EVIDENCE OF THE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS TAKEN BY THE JITNEY JUNGLE STORES IN CROSSGATES, CLINTON, JACKSON, RIDGELAND, AND CASTLEWOODS.

II. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY ALLOWING THE DEFENDANTS TO USE THEIR ACCIDENT RECONSTRUCTIONIST AS A "HEARSAY CONDUIT."

III. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY EXCLUDING THE LAY OPINION OF GREG JONES.

STATEMENT OF THE FACTS

¶2. Greg and Connie Jones took their two children, three-year-old Jeremy and one-year-old Tyler, to the Jitney Jungle store on Highway 49 in Magee, Mississippi around 8 p.m. on October 25, 1993. They parked near the north entrance to the store.

¶3. As the family entered the store, Jeremy asked his parents if he could ride the coin-operated truck near the entrance. His mother promised him that he could ride before the family left the store. The family finished shopping and young Tyler began crying at the check-out counter. Connie took Tyler to the car, leaving Greg to pay for the groceries. As the father and son left the store, Jeremy jumped into the coin-operated truck and reminded his father that he had been promised a ride. Greg told Jeremy to stay in the truck as he walked across the street to put the groceries away and to get change for the machine. The family car was approximately 20 feet from the child. Before Greg returned, Jeremy stepped off the curb and into the path of an oncoming car. Greg, realizing his son was about to be hit, ran toward the entrance yelling and waving his hands to no avail. Jeremy was struck by the car and killed.

¶4. Jeremy's parents reached a settlement agreement with the driver of the car. They then filed a wrongful death action against Jitney Jungle Stores of America and McCarty-Holman Company, claiming Jitney Jungle neglected to maintain its parking lot in a reasonably safe manner.

I. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN EXCLUDING EVIDENCE OF THE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS TAKEN BY THE JITNEY JUNGLE STORES IN CROSSGATES, CLINTON, JACKSON, RIDGELAND, AND CASTLEWOODS.

ΒΆ5. At trial, the appellants sought to introduce photographs of Jitney Jungle stores at other locations to demonstrate that those stores used speed bumps, stop signs, pedestrian crossings, speed limits, or other precautions to deter drivers from speeding through their parking lots. Counsel for Jitney Jungle objected, arguing that the other stores' safety measures ...


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