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Estes v. Starnes

February 11, 1999

ILENE F. ESTES
v.
DONALD STARNES



Before Prather, C.j., Banks And McRAE, JJ.

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

DATE OF JUDGMENT: October 7, 1997

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. C. E. MORGAN, III

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: WINSTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - PERSONAL INJURY

MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED:

MANDATE ISSUED:

¶1. Ilene F. Estes appeals a June 12, 1997 order of the Winston County Circuit Court denying her motion to file an amended complaint in a case arising from an automobile accident which occurred on February 25, 1993. The negligence action against Donald Starnes subsequently was dismissed by the circuit court on October 7, 1997. Finding that amendment of the complaint should have been allowed pursuant to Rules 15(a) and (c) of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure, we reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I.

¶2. Estes was treated at the Winston County Community Hospital on February 25, 1993 for injuries sustained in an automobile accident that day. She filed suit against Donald Starnes on February 24, 1994,*fn1 alleging that he had caused the accident by negligently running a red light. Starnes denied the allegations against him. Starnes' first set of interrogatories and request for production of documents and for admissions and Estes' April 4, 1994 response thereto, including her medical records, are the only discovery documents set forth in the record for this Court's consideration. The accident report was not made part of the record.

¶3. Three years later, on April 10, 1997, Estes filed a motion to amend the complaint. The proposed amended complaint charged that David C. Starnes negligently drove the vehicle which ran a red light and collided with her car on February 25, 1993. Estes states in her brief that a hearing was held on April 28, 1997, but a transcript of that proceeding was not made a part of the record. The circuit court denied her motion, finding

"that Donald Starnes was not the driver of the automobile at the time of the subject accident; that the purpose of the Motion to File Amended Complaint was to change the party against whom the claim is asserted to David C. Starnes; and that the Plaintiff offered no evidence to show why she failed to take reasonable steps to discover that she had filed suit against the wrong party within the applicable statute of limitations."

Donald Starnes subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the action against him, or in the alternative, for summary judgment, asserting that he was not driving the vehicle in question at the time of the accident. The ...


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