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Sykes v. Home Health Care Affiliates, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

October 8, 2013

DOROTHY SYKES APPELLANT
v.
HOME HEALTH CARE AFFILIATES, INC. APPELLEE

EN BANC.

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/26/2011

AFFIRMED: 10/02/2012

MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED: 11/08/2012

LOWNDES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. LEE J. HOWARD Judge

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: CARTER DOBBS JR.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: JOHN LEWIS HINKLE IV

MODIFIED OPINION ON MOTION FOR REHEARING

GRIFFIS, P.J.

¶1. This case is before us on a motion for rehearing; the motion is granted, and the original opinion is withdrawn and substituted with this opinion.

¶2. In this respondeat superior action, the Lowndes County County Court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant, Home Health Care Affiliates Inc. (Home Health), because the plaintiff, Dorothy Sykes, failed to serve process upon Home Health's employee, Zelp Gambleton, within 120 days from when the summons was issued. Sykes did serve process upon Home Health. Nevertheless, the county court found that because Gambleton was not served, and the statute of limitations had expired, summary judgment was proper for Home Health. The Lowndes County Circuit Court affirmed. We find that in a respondeat superior action, the employer and the employee are jointly and severally liable; therefore, Gambleton was not a necessary party, and Home Health was not entitled to summary judgment. Consequently we reverse and remand this action for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

FACTS

¶3. On May 8, 2009, Sykes filed suit in the County Court of Lowndes County against Home Health and its employee, Gambleton. The action arose from a automobile accident that occurred on May 8, 2006, in which a vehicle driven by Gambleton collided with a vehicle occupied by Sykes. As a result, Sykes alleged she suffered personal injuries. Sykes further alleged Gambleton negligently and carelessly operated his vehicle, and was working in the scope of his employment with Home Health at the time of the automobile accident.

ΒΆ4. Sykes timely served Home Health in accordance with Rule 4(h) of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure. Gambleton, however, was never served. On September 28, 2009, Home Health filed a motion for summary judgment in the county court. On April 23, 2010, the county court entered an order granting summary judgment to Home Health and dismissing with prejudice the cause of action against Home Health. The county court also dismissed the claims against Gambleton without prejudice. In its order, the county court ruled that (1) the action against Home Health was barred by the running of the applicable statute of limitations against its employee, Gambleton; and (2) Sykes failed to establish good cause for failing to timely serve Gambleton within the 120 days provided by Rule 4(h). Sykes appealed the county court's ...


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