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Doss v. Dixon

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

February 11, 2014

Monique DOSS, Nadia Harris, Shavonda Gibbs, Rochell Childs, Darren Childs, Ladarius Johnson, Tamara Green, Darius West, Roger Hawkins, Takeera Johnson, Levan Harris, Joseph Doss, Tyneeta Doss, Justin Childs, A Minor by and Through Brenda Childs, As Next Friend and Natural Guardian, Nancy Pointer, Mishay Hampton, Tarmeisha Hampton and Kimeyatter Pointer, A Minor by and Through Nancy Pointer, As Next Friend and Natural Guardian, Appellants
v.
Jessica DIXON, Marquitta Hawkins and Christine Whitehall, Appellees.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Carlos Eugene Moore, Tangala Laniece Hollis, Grenada, attorneys for appellants.

Leland S. Smith III, Robert R. Stephenson Jr., Jackson, attorneys for appellees.

Before IRVING, P.J., ROBERTS and JAMES, JJ.

ROBERTS, J.

¶ 1. Seventeen customers of the Pizza Hut in Greenwood, Mississippi, filed a complaint in the Leflore County Circuit Court on March 14, 2011, against the employees of the Pizza Hut.[1] In their complaint, the customers claimed that the employees negligently prepared and served them food, causing the customers to seek immediate medical treatment. In response, the employees filed their motion to dismiss, and the circuit court dismissed the case on May 22, 2012. The customers timely filed their appeal and ask this Court to determine whether the circuit court erred in dismissing their case on the ground that it was barred by the doctrines of res judicata, collateral estoppel, and stare decisis. We affirm the dismissal of the case.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶ 2. On January 18, 2009, The customers ate at the Pizza Hut in Greenwood. Immediately, several of them complained of a variety of gastrointestinal problems, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, and they sought treatment for these symptoms.

¶ 3. Initially, there were several lawsuits filed against NPC International Inc., which owns the Pizza Hut in Greenwood; A & D Management; and Shane Brown, Pizza Hut's manager, on behalf of varying combinations of the Customers. [2] However,

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the employees were not a party to any of these lawsuits. The initial food-poisoning lawsuits were removed to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi and were consolidated. NPC International filed its motion for summary judgment, and the district court granted the motion on February 24, 2011. The district court found that the customers failed to establish all of the elements of proximate cause, primarily " that [the customers were] unable to establish that they were served food that was unfit for human consumption[.]" Thus, they could not establish that a duty was breached. Further, the district court found that the customers could not establish " a causal link between the alleged illness and negligence on the part of Pizza Hut" because a review of their medical records revealed " no conclusive diagnosis of food poisoning." The customers then appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of all defendants in February 2012.[3]

¶ 4. The customers filed the present complaint against the employees on March 14, 2011, in the circuit court. In their complaint, the customers claimed that the employees negligently prepared and served the food that caused them to become ill. As a result of the employees' negligence, the customers " suffered injuries, including ... loss of income, bodily injuries, mental anguish[,] and emotional distress." The employees filed their motion to dismiss on April 15, 2011. In their motion to dismiss, the employees argued that the customers' case was barred by the doctrines of collateral estoppel and stare decisis. They filed an amended motion to dismiss on May 13, 2011, adding a claim of insufficiency of process regarding Dixon. A second amended motion to dismiss was filed on June 3, 2011. This motion to dismiss added that the case was barred by the doctrine of res judicata.

¶ 5. On May 22, 2012, the circuit court entered its order and opinion in the case. It noted that it had considered the motions, briefs, and arguments of counsel. Further, because it had considered matters outside of the pleadings, the circuit court noted the employees' motion to dismiss would be treated as a motion for summary judgment. The circuit court ordered that the customers' case be dismissed based on the doctrines of ...


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