COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/08/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. WILLIAM A. GOWAN JR.
FOR APPELLANTS: MICHAEL M. WILLIAMS.
FOR APPELLEES: MELTON JAMES WEEMS, WALTER WILLIAM DUKES.
BEFORE LEE, C.J., ROBERTS AND CARLTON, JJ. BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, CARLTON AND FAIR, JJ., CONCUR. IRVING, P.J., DISSENTS WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION, JOINED BY GRIFFIS, P.J., AND JAMES, J. MAXWELL, J., NOT PARTICIPATING.
[¶1] In this case, we must determine whether the trial court abused its discretion in dismissing Appellants' suit due to discovery violations. Finding no error, we affirm.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
[¶2] Agnes Lockhart was injured when she slipped and fell in a puddle of water on August 25, 2008, at a Trustmark National Bank branch, her place of employment. Lockhart and her husband, Charles Lockhart, filed a negligence action in the Hinds County Circuit Court against Stirling Properties Inc. and Malone Roofing Services LLC. Stirling owned and managed the building that housed the bank, and Malone had recently repaired the building's roof.
[¶3] Lockhart filed her suit on August 23, 2011. Malone filed its request for interrogatories and production of documents on November 15, 2011. Stirling filed its request for interrogatories and production of documents on May 4, 2012. Lockhart requested an extension until January 13, 2012, in order to respond to the discovery requests. Malone agreed to the extension. The record contains a letter sent to Lockhart's attorney, Michael M. Williams, on March 19, 2012, stating Malone had not received any responses to its discovery requests and asking Williams to file the responses within fourteen days to avoid the filing of a motion to compel. Malone did not receive any response to its discovery requests and filed a motion to compel on April 5, 2012. Lockhart did not respond to this motion.
[¶4] Stirling also sent Williams a letter stating it had not received any responses to its discovery requests and asked him to file the responses within fourteen days. Receiving no response, Stirling filed a motion to compel on July 27, 2012. Lockhart did not respond to this motion. A hearing on both Malone's and Stirling's motions to compel was scheduled for October, 23, 2012, but the trial court agreed to hear the matter on September 7, 2012.
[¶5] On September 5 and 6, right before the hearing, Lockhart emailed her answers to interrogatories and responses to the request for production of documents to Malone. At this point, Malone discovered certain deficiencies in Lockhart's answers. During the hearing on the motions to compel, the trial court ordered the parties to meet and work out the problems with Lockhart's answers. The trial court stressed to Lockhart the need to be forthcoming in her answers. Another hearing was scheduled for September 21, 2012, in order to address any remaining issues. The record contains an email from Malone's trial counsel to the trial court indicating the parties had " worked out the major issues," and Lockhart had agreed to supplement the answers and responses by
September 28, 2012. As a result, Malone asked the hearing scheduled for September 21, 2012, to be removed from the docket.
[¶6] On October 9, 2012, Malone received a supplementation to Lockhart's interrogatory answers. This supplementation included four pages of medical records, which included a work-status report from Baptist Health Systems on the date of her accident, a treatment code sheet from Baptist Medical Clinic on the date of her accident, a prescription note from Dr. Massie Headley on the date of her accident, and another work-status report from Baptist Health Systems dated approximately two weeks after the accident. However, Malone filed a motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for sanctions, on October 12, 2012, and an amended motion on October 15, 2012, stating that these answers were deficient and that the answers failed to include information that Lockhart had previously agreed to provide.
[¶7] Included in Lockhart's supplementation was her signed medical authorization, which allowed Malone to obtain her medical records. Malone determined that Lockhart had failed to disclose a number of preexisting injuries similar to those she received when she fell at ...