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Soileau v. Mississippi Coast Coliseum Commission

December 08, 1998

SUSAN SOILEAU APPELLANT
v.
MISSISSIPPI COAST COLISEUM COMMISSION APPELLEE



Before McMILLIN, P.j., Coleman, And Southwick, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Southwick, J.

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 09/22/97

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. KOSTA N. VLAHOS

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HARRISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - STATE BOARDS AND AGENCIES

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: SUMMARY JUDGMENT GRANTED IN FAVOR OF DEFENDANT

DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED - 12/08/1998

¶1. Susan Soileau, joined by her husband, Michael Soileau, brought suit for injuries she sustained while attending a concert at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum. The circuit Judge dismissed the complaint due to the Soileaus' failure to comply with the notice provisions of the Mississippi Tort Claims Act. The Soileaus appeal arguing that this was error. We disagree and affirm.

FACTS

¶2. On October 14, 1995, Susan and Michael Soileau were attending a Bob Dylan concert held at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum. While making her way to the refreshment area, Susan tripped over an uncovered electrical cable which was lying unsecured on the floor. She fell and injured her left knee. The Soileaus sought medical attention from the emergency medical technician on duty at the Coliseum and filled out an incident report which described the accident. This incident report was signed by the Coliseum's chief executive director, Bill Holmes. Susan was also interviewed by counsel for the Coliseum, who prepared a narrative based on Susan's account. The Soileaus then left the concert in order to have Susan's knee x-rayed at an emergency room.

¶3. Three months later, on January 16, 1996, the Soileaus' attorney mailed a letter addressed to the "Mississippi Coast Coliseum" advising of his representation of the Soileaus and requesting that the letter be forwarded to the Coliseum's insurance carrier. Between January and September of 1996, the Soileaus' attorney corresponded with the attorney for the Coliseum and the Coliseum's insurance adjuster. On September 12, 1996, the Soileaus submitted copies of Susan's medical records and bills to the adjuster, demanding $20,885 in settlement of the claim.

¶4. After efforts to settle the claim failed, the Soileaus filed suit on November 1, 1996, against the Mississippi Coast Coliseum Commission and the concert promoter, Leas Campbell Presents. The complaint was later amended to dismiss Michael Soileau's loss of consortium claim. In their answer, the Coliseum and Leas Campbell Presents argued that the Soileaus had failed to comply with the notice provisions of the Mississippi Tort Claims Act. The Act mandates that notice of a claim against a governmental entity be given to its chief executive officer at least ninety days prior to the filing of a lawsuit. The Coliseum filed a motion for summary judgment on September 5, 1997, arguing that the Soileaus had failed to give the requisite notice to Bill Holmes, the chief executive officer of the Coliseum. The Soileaus responded by arguing that the chief executive officer had notice, which was given through the incident report prepared by the Coliseum and the correspondence exchanged between their attorney, the Coliseum's attorney, and the Coliseum's insurance adjuster.

ΒΆ5. Following a hearing held on September 22, 1997, the circuit Judge granted the Coliseum's motion for summary judgment. The court found that the statute was jurisdictional, and as a result of the Soileaus' failure to comply with its notice provisions, the court had no jurisdiction over their claim. A final judgment dismissing Susan Soileau's claim was entered on ...


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