COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: MONROE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/13/2014. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JAMES SETH ANDREW POUNDS.
AFFIRMED AND REMANDED.
FOR APPELLANT: JOHN L. MAXEY, II, S. MARK WANN, KELLY HOLLINGSWORTH STRINGER.
FOR APPELLEE: JIM WAIDE, RON L. WOODRUFF.
BEFORE DICKINSON AND RANDOLPH, P.JJ., AND LAMAR, J. WALLER, C.J., RANDOLPH, P.J., LAMAR, KITCHENS, PIERCE, KING AND COLEMAN, JJ., CONCUR. CHANDLER, J., NOT PARTICIPATING.
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - OTHER
¶1. A nursing home employee filed a wrongful-discharge suit more than a year after she claims she was fired for reporting suspected patient abuse. Although wrongful-discharge suits in Mississippi generally must be based upon written employment contracts, she claims her suit falls under the public-policy exceptions this Court announced in McArn v. Allied Bruce-Terminix Co., Inc. The issue presented is whether--as she argues--her wrongful-discharge suit is governed bye the general three-year statute of limitations governing torts, or--as the nursing home argues--it is governed by the one-year statute of limitations applicable to unwritten employment contracts. The trial court held McArn wrongful-discharge claims are tort actions, subject to the general three-year statute of limitations. We agree.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
¶2. On November 15, 2012, Mary Barrentine sued Community Care Center of Aberdeen " for discharge in violation of public policy," alleging she was wrongfully discharged from her nursing position on April 29, 2011, after she reported suspected nursing-home patient abuse to the State Ombudsman and Community Care Center's corporate compliance officer. Community Care Center responded with a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Barrentine's claims were based upon an unwritten employment contract and, thus, barred by Section 15-1-29's one-year statute of limitations. Barrentine opposed the motion, arguing that her suit sounded in tort and was governed by Section 15-1-49's three-year statute of limitations.
¶3. The trial court denied Community Care Center's motion for summary judgment, finding " that the statute of limitations for a cause of action of wrongful discharge in violation of Mississippi's [public] policy is three (3) years." Because this is an issue of first impression, we granted Community Care Center's Petition for Permission to File Interlocutory Appeal.
¶4. We review a trial court's denial of a motion for summary judgment de novo, because the " ...