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Taylor v. Biloxi Regional Medical Center

March 09, 1999

MICHAEL E. TAYLOR APPELLANT
v.
BILOXI REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER APPELLEE



Before Bridges, C.j., Coleman, And Irving, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bridges, C.j.

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/05/1998

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. ROBERT H. WALKER

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HARRISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - PERSONAL INJURY

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: SUMMARY JUDGMENT GRANTED IN FAVOR OF BILOXI REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER

¶1. Michael E. Taylor appeals the Harrison County Circuit Court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Biloxi Regional Medical Center. Because we find that Taylor failed to provide evidence on a necessary element of his cause of action, we affirm the circuit court's entry of summary judgment in favor of Biloxi Regional Medical Center.

FACTS

¶2. On the morning of March 18, 1995, *fn1 during heavy rainfall, Michael E. Taylor, a paramedic for American Medical Response Ambulance Service, and his partner, Lonnie Sexton, responded to an emergency call involving a car/train collision in Biloxi. By the time the victim was stabilized at the accident scene, Taylor, Sexton, and the victim were drenched thoroughly. The seriously injured victim was transported to Biloxi Regional Medical Center for medical treatment. The weather conditions had not improved. It continued to rain heavily. As Taylor and Sexton raced through the electronic doors entering the hospital and turned right to enter the hallway leading to the emergency room, Taylor's feet slipped out from under him and he fell to the floor injuring his back. Taylor later required surgery for a herniated disc in his cervical spine. Taylor returned to work approximately nine months later.

¶3. Taylor initiated this premises liability action against BRMC, alleging that his slip and fall accident was the result of BRMC's negligence in failing to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition. BRMC denied any allegations of negligence and moved for summary judgment, arguing that Taylor failed to produce evidence demonstrating that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the dangerous condition was caused by BRMC, or whether BRMC had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition. After finding Taylor failed to produce such evidence, the circuit court granted Biloxi Regional's motion. Taylor appeals.

DISCUSSION

¶4. Rule 56(c) of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure allows summary judgment where there are no genuine issues of material fact such that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Crain v. Cleveland Lodge 1532, 641 So. 2d 1186, 1188 (Miss. 1994). When reviewing a decision to grant summary judgment, this Court will review the case de novo. Id. When seeking summary judgment, the movant bears the initial responsibility of demonstrating the absence of an issue of material fact, thus shifting to the non-movant the burden of demonstrating by competent summary judgment proof that there is an issue of material fact warranting trial. Lindsey v. Sears Roebuck and Co., 16 F.3d 616, 618 (5th Cir. 1994).

¶5. The law of premises liability is that the owner or occupier of a business owes a duty to an invitee to exercise reasonable or ordinary care to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition or warn of dangerous conditions not readily apparent, which owner or occupant knows of, or should know of, in the exercise of reasonable care. Fulton v. Robinson Industries, Inc., 664 So. 2d 170, 175 (Miss. 1995). However, the owner or occupant of a business is not an insurer of all injuries. Lindsey, 16 F.3d at 618. "The invitee is still required to use in the interest of his own safety that degree of care and prudence which a person of ordinary intelligence would exercise under the same or similar circumstance." Fulton, 664 So. 2d at 175.

"[M]erely proving the occurrence of an accident within the business premises is insufficient to prove liability; rather, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the operator of the business was negligent. To prove that the operator was negligent, the plaintiff must show either (1) that the operator caused the dangerous condition, or, (2) if the dangerous condition was caused by a third person unconnected with the store operation, that the operator had either actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition. Constructive knowledge is established by proof that the dangerous condition ...


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