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O'Gwin v. Isle of Capri-Natchez, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 3, 2014

HOWARD O'GWIN, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL WRONGFUL DEATH BENEFICIARIES OF MARY VIRGINIA O'GWIN, DECEASED, APPELLANT
v.
ISLE OF CAPRI-NATCHEZ, INC., APPELLEE

Page 784

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: ADAMS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/02/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. LILLIE BLACKMON SANDERS. TRIAL COURT GRANTED SUMMARY JUDGMENT TO APPELLEE IN APPELLANT'S WRONGFUL-DEATH ACTION.

FOR APPELLANT: JOSEPH PRESTON DURR, W. BRADY KELLEMS.

FOR APPELLEE: JEFFREY MONROE WILLIAMS.

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

OPINION

Page 785

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - WRONGFUL DEATH

MAXWELL, J.

¶1. Mary Virginia O'Gwin died of natural causes. Yet her husband sued Isle of Capri- Natchez, Inc. (IOC),[1] for wrongful death. Mary Virginia was playing slots at IOC's casino when her heart stopped. Her husband claims the casino breached its legal duty to its critically ill patron by not restarting her heart with a defibrillator or chest compressions within five minutes of her collapse.

¶2. The circuit court dismissed this claim on summary judgment. And on appeal, we must affirm. As an owner of property open to the public, IOC, once it learned its patron Mary Virginia was ill and in need of medical assistance, did owe her a duty to render aid. But this duty entailed taking reasonable action to give her first aid and care for her until the emergency medical technicians (EMTs) arrived.[2] This duty did not include performing EMT-level medical-rescue efforts, like using an automated external defibrillator (AED) or performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). So evidence that IOC did not provide such medical assistance within minutes of learning Mary Virginia was ill is not evidence the casino breached its duty to render aid. Thus, IOC was entitled to summary judgment on the claim that its negligence caused Mary Virginia's death.

Background

I. Heart Attack

¶3. Sixty-seven-year-old Mary Virginia sat down at a slot machine in IOC's casino. Minutes later, her heart stopped. She collapsed to the floor. A patron found her and notified employees, who came to her aid. An ambulance was called. And while waiting for an ambulance to arrive, employees tried to revive her through CPR.

¶4. When the EMTs arrived, they shocked Mary Virginia's heart with an AED. Her heart restarted. But by this point, her brain was fatally injured from ...


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