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Cannon v. Mid-South X-Ray Co.

February 23, 1999

ANNIE CANNON APPELLANT
v.
MID-SOUTH X-RAY COMPANY AND E. I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS & COMPANY AND JOHN DOES I-V APPELLEES



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

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 08/11/97 TRIAL JUDGE: HON. L. BRELAND HILBURN JR. COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - TORTS - OTHER THAN PERSONAL INJURY AND PROPERTY DAMAGE

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: GRANTED SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF DEFENDANTS/APPELLEES

DISPOSITION: REVERSED AND REMANDED -02/23/99

EN BANC

¶1. Annie Cannon, the appellant, appeals the decision of the Hinds County Circuit Court granting summary judgment to Mid-South X-Ray Company and E.I. Du Pont de Nemours and Company, the appellees, in her personal injury action. On appeal, Cannon contends that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment because there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding the date of accrual for her cause of action. We agree. Therefore, we reverse and remand for a trial on the merits.

FACTS

¶2. Cannon began her employment in 1975 with the Mississippi Methodist Rehabilitation Center located in Jackson, Mississippi. As a darkroom technician, she was required to work in small room and use various toxic chemicals manufactured by Du Pont to develop x-ray film. Between 1975 and 1986 Cannon directly handled and mixed the chemicals as part of her job.

¶3. Within six months of her employment at MMRC, Cannon began experiencing different health problems including: burning eyes, burning sensations throughout her body, sinus problems, extreme nausea, and severe headaches. During this period, Cannon never suspected that the chemicals she was exposed to at work were associated with her health problems. Furthermore, the doctors who were treating her symptoms did not make a connection between her chemical exposure and her illnesses. In 1983 Cannon began having severe seizures, burning sensations under her skin, and severe headaches. At this point, her doctors began prescribing additional medications to combat these symptoms. As her employment at MMRC continued, Cannon's symptoms progressed and persistently worsened.

¶4. By the late 1980's after her symptom severity increased, Cannon sought additional medical assistance. She saw several doctors who did not make definitive diagnoses of her problems. During this period, Cannon states that she did not suspect an association between her numerous health problems and the toxic chemicals she was routinely exposed to at work.

¶5. In January of 1992, Cannon's supervisor at MMRC gave her an article entitled, "Darkroom Disease." The article outlined some of the symptoms experienced by people who worked with chemicals in the darkroom of photograph laboratories. After reading the article, Cannon began to suspect that her illnesses were related to her exposure to chemicals at work. Thereafter, in February 1992 Cannon's supervisor received a memorandum requesting that he not inform Cannon of the disease, tell her about the article concerning darkroom disease, or ensure that the safety of her workplace was met and maintained.

¶6. In January of 1993, Cannon saw Dr. Robert L. Saulter about her health problems. He referred her to the Ocshner Clinic in New Orleans, Louisiana where she was examined by several physicians. Cannon related her medical history and information about the chemicals at her place of work. During her treatment at the Ocshner Clinic, she received medical confirmation that her illness was associated with chemicals at her workplace. On February 9, 1993, Dr. Todd W. McCune reported that exposure to chemicals at her workplace was a major cause of her health problems.

¶7. On August 8, 1995, Cannon filed suit against Mid-South and Du Pont. After a hearing, the Hinds County Circuit Court granted the appellees' motion for summary judgment on January 16, 1997. Feeling aggrieved, Cannon filed this appeal.

DISCUSSION

¶8. Summary judgment is a powerful tool which "should be used wisely and sparingly." Martin v. Simmons, 571 So. 2d 254, 258 (Miss. 1990). It should only be granted when "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact." M.R.C.P. 56 (c). When reviewing a decision to grant summary judgment, this Court will review the case de novo. Crain v. Cleveland Lodge 1532, 641 So. 2d 1186, 1188 (Miss. 1994). All evidentiary matters are viewed in a light most favorable to the non-movant. Id. (emphasis added); Morgan v. City of Ruleville, 627 So. 2d 275, 277 (Miss. 1993). In other words, Mid-South and Du Pont must show ...


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