ANDREW K. MATTHIES, APPELLANT
MILTON REED, RED MOUNTAIN ENTERTAINMENT, INC., AND BLUE DEUCE ENTERTAINMENT, LLC, APPELLEES
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 12/06/2012. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JEFF WEILL SR. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT GRANTED.
FOR APPELLANT: DAVID NEIL MCCARTY, WILLIAM B. GILL III, JAMES MICHAEL PRIEST JR.
FOR APPELLEES: THOMAS RAY JULIAN, CORY TODD WILSON, JOHN BENTON CLARK, WILTON V. BYARS III, LAWRENCE MURRAY COCO III.
BEFORE LEE, C.J., ROBERTS AND JAMES, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, CARLTON, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR. MAXWELL, J., NOT PARTICIPATING.
¶1. The Hinds County Circuit Court granted Milton Reed's motion for summary judgment after finding that Reed was a state employee, who, therefore, was immune from liability under the Mississippi Tort Claims Act (MTCA), codified in Mississippi Code Annotated sections 11-46-1 to -23 (Rev. 2012). A lawsuit stemmed from actions taken by Reed while providing security at an event on the Mississippi Fairgrounds, which resulted in an injury to Dr. Andrew Matthies. Due to the circuit court's finding that Reed was an employee of Mississippi at the time of the incident, the circuit court also granted Red Mountain Entertainment Inc.'s and Blue Deuce Entertainment LLC's motions for summary judgment, as they could not be vicariously liable for Reed's actions if he was not their employee. Dr. Matthies appealed, and, after a de novo review, we reverse and remand this case for trial. Determinations of Reed's employer and his employment status at the event were genuine issues of material fact not appropriate for disposition on summary judgment.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
¶2. On May 3, 2008, Dr. Matthies attended the Miller Lite Crawfish Boil held on the Mississippi Fairgrounds in Jackson, Mississippi. The crawfish boil was a production of Red Mountain and Blue Deuce, which both entered into a contract with the Mississippi State Fair Commission to hold the crawfish boil and concerts on the fairgrounds.
¶3. The events that led to Dr. Matthies removal from the crowd are disputed; however, there is no dispute that Reed escorted an intoxicated Dr. Matthies to an exit gate. Reed pushed Dr. Matthies out of the gate, and Dr. Matthies fell, injuring his shoulder, wrist, and jaw. His shoulder injury required surgery. Dr. Matthies also received cuts and bruises on his hands and face from his fall. According to Dr. Matthies, Reed was negligent in shoving Dr. Matthies out of the gate and onto the ground, where he landed face first on concrete. Dr. Matthies was treated briefly by on-site paramedics, but he was not cooperative with them. He returned to the crawfish boil, where he was again escorted from the event, this time without incident.
¶4. Dr. Matthies filed his initial complaint on April 29, 2009, based on the injuries he allegedly received when he was shoved out of the gate by Reed. His complaint was amended in November 2009 to add Reed as a defendant. It was again amended on March 15, 2010. In his third, and final, amended complaint filed on December 7, 2010, Dr. Matthies named Red Mountain, Blue Deuce, the Fair Commission, the State of Mississippi by and through the Fair Commission, and Reed as defendants. His complaint alleged negligence against all defendants and the vicarious liability of Red Mountain, Blue Deuce, and the Fair Commission.
¶5. The Fair Commission moved for summary judgment, and, while acknowledging that Reed's employment status was disputed, the circuit court granted the motion on April 18, 2011. The circuit court found that " for the purposes of the summary judgment motion, the Fair Commission treat[ed] Reed as its employee." The Fair Commission was immune from liability pursuant to the MTCA. Reed filed his motion for summary judgment on November
21, 2011, and asserted that he was immune under the MTCA because he was an employee of the state and within the scope of his employment at the time of the incident. Further, his conduct involved an element of choice or judgment affecting social policy. Red Mountain and Blue Deuce filed their motion for summary judgment on October 23, 2012, on the ground that if Reed was a state ...