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Reaves v. Randall

December 31, 1998

ASHLEY RENEE REAVES, A MINOR, BY AND THROUGH HER NEXT FRIEND AND NATURAL MOTHER, REBECCA LOU ROUSE
v.
W. P. RANDALL AND GREENWOOD MUNICIPAL SEPARATE SCHOOL DISTRICT



Before Sullivan, P.j., Mills And Waller, JJ.

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

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 07/17/97

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. SHIRLEY C. BYERS

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LEFLORE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - PERSONAL INJURY

STATEMENT OF CASE

¶1. Summary judgment was granted by the Circuit Court of Leflore County in favor of W.P. Randle and the Greenwood Municipal School District on July 21, 1997. This grant dismissed the complaint filed by Ashley Renee Reaves, by and through her mother, Rebecca Lou Rouse, on July 3, 1996. This tort claim is one governed by the Mississippi Tort Claims Act and was dismissed for failure to comply with the notice of claim requirements of the Act. The chancellor found that since the notice requirement of the Act was not met, there was no waiver of immunity by the school district and therefore no jurisdiction for the court. Absent the tolling of the one-year statute of limitations of the Mississippi Tort Claims Act by adequate notice, this claim is procedurally barred.

STATEMENT OF THE FACTS

¶2. The facts pertinent to the issues of notice and waiver of notice are undisputed. Ashley Renee Reaves was riding her bike toward Davis Elementary with her friend Brandon Lancaster on February 18, 1996, around 1:30 p.m. At the same time the two were approaching the school, W. P. Randle was driving a pickup truck owned by the Greenwood Public School District in the opposite direction. Lancaster apparently spotted Randle and stopped. Reaves's bike bumped into the back of Lancaster's stopped bike. Reaves then veered left and struck the truck driven by Randle.

¶3. On February 27, 1996, counsel for the appellant sent a letter to Dr. C.L. Stevenson, Superintendent of the Greenwood Municipal Separate School System, which read:

"I have been retained by Rebecca Lou Rouse to represent her daughter, Ashley Renee Reaves, with regard to injuries and damages arising and growing out of a bicycle/motor vehicle accident which occurred on 2/18/96 at approximately 1:30 p.m. on the grounds of Davis School. It would be greatly appreciated if you would have your insurance carrier contact me regarding adjustment of this claim. /s/ Preston Davis Rideout, Jr."

On April 15, 1996, the appellant received a letter from the claims adjuster, Stuart Chisolm, for Gallagher Bassett Services, Inc., on behalf of the Greenwood Municipal Separate School District. The adjuster requested an interview with the appellant. An interview was conducted on May 15, 1996, in which Chisolm had the opportunity to interview Reaves and Rouse. Through counsel on September 27, 1996, Reaves also answered interrogatories propounded by the school district. In preparation for trial, the depositions of several witnesses were taken including Reaves, Rouse, and Lancaster. Aggrieved by the Circuit Court's grant of summary judgment, Reaves assigns as error the following issues:

I. WHETHER ANY DEFECTS IN THE STATUTORY NOTICE LETTER REQUIRED BY § 11-46-11 MISS. CODE ANN. WERE WAIVED BY THE SCHOOL DISTRICT'S INSURANCE ADJUSTER WHEN HE INVESTIGATED AND REJECTED REAVES'S CLAIM.

II. WHETHER ANY DEFECTS IN THE STATUTORY NOTICE LETTER REQUIRED BY ยง 11-46-11 MISS. CODE ANN. WERE WAIVED BY THE SCHOOL DISTRICT'S PARTICIPATION IN DISCOVERY OR ...


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