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Fulgham v. AAA Cooper Transp. Co.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

March 11, 2014

CANDICE FULGHAM, APPELLANT
v.
AAA COOPER TRANSPORTATION COMPANY, APPELLEE

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LEE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/22/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JAMES LAMAR ROBERTS JR. TRIAL COURT GRANTED APPELLEE'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT.

DISPOSITION: REVERSED AND REMANDED.

FOR APPELLANT: RONALD D. MICHAEL.

FOR APPELLEE: DOUGLAS BAGWELL.

BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., ROBERTS AND FAIR, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, MAXWELL, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR. CARLTON, J., CONCURS IN RESULT ONLY.

OPINION

Page 808

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - PERSONAL INJURY

ROBERTS, J.

¶1. Candice Fulgham sued AAA Cooper Transportation Company after she was involved in a traffic accident. Fulgham never named the driver of AAA Cooper's eighteen-wheeler truck as a defendant. AAA Cooper filed a motion for summary judgment and argued that because the statute of limitations had expired and Fulgham had neither named the driver as a defendant nor served him with process, Fulgham was precluded from recovery against AAA Cooper. The Lee County Circuit Court agreed, and granted AAA Cooper's motion for summary judgment. Fulgham appeals. We find that, subject to certain exceptions that do not apply in this case, it is not necessary for a plaintiff to name an employee as a defendant in order to recover under the doctrine of respondeat superior. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the circuit court and remand this matter to its trial docket.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2. On January 10, 2006, Fulgham was involved in a traffic accident in Saltillo, Mississippi. According to the allegations in her complaint, the driver of an eighteen-wheeler owned by AAA Cooper pulled out in front of a vehicle being driven by Joshua Jeffcoat. Fulgham further alleged that Jeffcoat swerved to avoid the eighteen-wheeler, and collided with her vehicle as a result.

¶3. On January 9, 2009, Fulgham sued AAA Cooper, Jeffcoat, and the unnamed driver of AAA Cooper's eighteen-wheeler. During discovery, AAA Cooper disclosed that Scottie Harrison had been driving the eighteen-wheeler that allegedly caused Jeffcoat to collide with Fulgham. Even so, Fulgham never amended her complaint to name Harrison as a defendant. It follows that Fulgham never served Harrison with process.

¶4. On October 15, 2012, AAA Cooper filed a motion for summary judgment. AAA Cooper argued that it should be dismissed as a defendant to Fulgham's lawsuit because she had never amended her complaint to name Harrison as a defendant, and the statute of limitations against him had expired. AAA Cooper reasoned that because the statute of limitations against Harrison, its employee, had expired, it could not be liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior.

¶5. The circuit court did not conduct a court hearing on AAA Cooper's motion for summary judgment. However, the circuit court cited this Court's original opinion in Sykes v. Home Health Care Affiliates Inc., 2011 CA 00913 COA (Miss. Ct. App. 2012), and agreed that AAA Cooper could not be liable to Fulgham under the doctrine of respondeat superior because the statute of limitations against Harrison had expired. Consequently, on January 22, 2013, the ...


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