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Entergy Mississippi, Inc. v. Richardson

Supreme Court of Mississippi

March 20, 2014

ENTERGY MISSISSIPPI, INC. AND JAY B. COLEMAN, JR.
v.
KAREN RICHARDSON

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 09/24/2012. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. TOMIE T. GREEN.

FOR APPELLANTS: JAMES EARL GRAVES, III, CHARLES EDWIN ROSS, JAMES W. SNIDER, JR.

FOR APPELLEE: EVERETT T. SANDERS, SCOTT J. PINTARD, CLAUDE PINTARD.

BEFORE DICKINSON, P.J., LAMAR AND CHANDLER, JJ. WALLER, C.J., DICKINSON AND RANDOLPH, P.JJ., LAMAR, KITCHENS, PIERCE, KING AND COLEMAN JJ., CONCUR.

OPINION

Page 288

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - PERSONAL INJURY

CHANDLER, JUSTICE

¶1. This is a direct appeal from the Hinds County Circuit Court. The trial

Page 289

court granted plaintiff Karen Richardson's motion to reinstate a negligence action arising out of a 2001 automobile accident involving a truck owned by defendant Entergy Mississippi, Inc., (" Entergy" ). Richardson's action had been dismissed for failure to prosecute. We find that the trial court erred in granting the motion to reinstate. While the statute of limitations did not operate to preclude an evaluation of the merits for equitable relief under Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), no valid Rule 60(b) grounds existed for granting relief from the dismissal of the action.

FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS BELOW

¶2. In February 2001, Karen Richardson was in an automobile accident that occurred when a truck owned by Entergy allegedly struck her vehicle. In February 2004, Richardson filed a tort action against Entergy and the driver of the truck. The parties conducted discovery, including depositions. In 2012, the court ordered a docket call and sent notice that " cases that have not had any 'substantial activity' for twelve months or more will be dismissed for failure to prosecute." Entergy's attorney appeared at the docket call. Neither Richardson nor her lawyer appeared. The court dismissed the case for lack of prosecution, finding that there had been no substantial activity in the case since 2006. The dismissal was not the result of a motion to dismiss by Entergy.

¶3. More than ten days later, Richardson filed a motion to reinstate the case, arguing that the case was ready for trial, that filing a new complaint would require both parties to invest additional time and expenses, and that if not granted, " [p]laintiff may very well be confronted with a statute of limitations issue." The court granted the motion to reinstate, stating,

. . . the Court finds that both parties have failed to request a trial date and file agreed scheduling orders as required by this Court. The Court has had at least three docket calls since the action was filed and no motion to dismiss for failure to prosecute has been initiated at or prior to docket call. As such, ...

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