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Sawvell v. Gulfside Casino, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

February 24, 2015

DIANA LOUISE SAWVELL, APPELLANT
v.
GULFSIDE CASINO, INC., APPELLEE

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HARRISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 08/28/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. LAWRENCE PAUL BOURGEOIS JR. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: GRANTED APPELLEE'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT.

FOR APPELLANT: MICHAEL W. CROSBY.

FOR APPELLEE: WALTER W. DUKES, MATTHEW M. WILLIAMS.

BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES AND ISHEE, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ROBERTS, CARLTON, MAXWELL AND FAIR, JJ., CONCUR. JAMES, J., CONCURS IN PART AND DISSENTS IN PART WITHOUT SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION.

OPINION

Page 364

ISHEE, J.

¶1. In 2007, Diana Louise Sawvell was attacked and robbed by an unknown assailant in the parking lot of the Island View Casino and Resort -- an establishment owned and operated by Gulfside Casino Inc. (Gulfside). In 2010, Sawvell sued Gulfside for allegedly failing to provide reasonable security measures to prevent the incident from occurring. After pretrial discovery took place, Gulfside filed a motion for summary judgment claiming that Sawvell failed to produce any evidence to support her claim. After hearings on the matter, the Harrison County Circuit Court granted the motion. Aggrieved, Sawvell now appeals. Finding no error, we affirm.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

¶2. Sawvell drove to Gulfside in the early morning hours of April 27, 2007, with the intent to enter the premises and play casino games inside. Upon her arrival, she parked in Gulfside's parking lot and exited her vehicle. She was then struck with a hard object, which she later identified as a gun, and was robbed by an unknown attacker.

¶3. In 2010, she filed a complaint in the circuit court claiming that Gulfside did not implement reasonable security measures to protect her from the incident. Gulfside produced a timely answer and propounded written discovery. Sawvell refused to respond to written discovery. After the circuit

Page 365

court's failed attempt to compel Sawvell to respond, Gulfside filed a motion to dismiss or, alternatively, to compel sanctions. The circuit court scheduled a hearing on the matter that was delayed for almost a year. Ultimately, the circuit court denied Gulfside's motion to dismiss and granted its motion to compel sanctions.

¶4. Thereafter, Sawvell was deposed twice. Sawvell admitted that at the time of her assault, there was no atmosphere of violence on Gulfside's premises, Gulfside could not have been aware of the violent nature of the individual who assaulted Sawvell, and Gulfside would not reasonably have foreseen the incident occurring on its premises. Gulfside soon filed a motion for summary judgment asserting that Sawvell failed to produce any testimony that would support her claim against Gulfside. Sawvell opposed the motion in part because she said Gulfside owed her a special duty of care. In support thereof, Sawvell filed affidavits claiming that she was persuaded to come to Gulfside instead of other casinos in the area because of the large signs in Gulfside's parking areas advising patrons of surveillance on a closed-circuit-monitoring system. After a hearing on the matter, the circuit court determined that the affidavits were fraudulent. Sawvell could not identify the signature on ...


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