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Wilson v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

April 21, 2015

SETH WILSON, BY AND THROUGH HIS MOTHER AND NEXT FRIEND, SUZETTE WILSON PURSER, APPELLANT
v.
WAL-MART STORES, INC., APPELLEE

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: PANOLA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/04/2014. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. SMITH MURPHEY. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: GRANTED SUMMARY JUDGMENT FORDEFENDANT/APPELLEE.

FOR APPELLANT: D. BRIGGS SMITH JR.

FOR APPELLEE: THOMAS M. LOUIS, LEO JOSEPH CARMODY JR.

BEFORE LEE, C.J., BARNES AND MAXWELL, JJ.

OPINION

Page 1129

LEE, C.J.

¶1. In this premises-liability case, we must determine whether summary judgment was appropriately granted in favor of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. We find summary judgment was proper; thus, we affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2. On April 29, 2012, ten-year-old Seth Wilson, his brother, Wyatt Purser, and his stepfather, Jim Purser, went to a Wal-Mart

Page 1130

store in Batesville, Mississippi, to purchase a basketball. While Jim was paying for the basketball at a nearby register, Seth and his brother started looking at the bicycles. They both got on bicycles that were on the bicycle rack, and started riding up and down the aisles nearby. The bicycle Seth rode was on the ground when he found it, with its front wheel pushed under the rack and its back wheel in the aisle. Seth was following Wyatt on his bicycle when Wyatt slowed down to put the bicycle he was riding away. Seth was forced to go around him because he was " going real fast" and " [could not] figure out how to stop." He tried to brake using the pedals, but the bicycle only had handbrakes. Unable to stop, Seth ran into a wall and cut his leg on a shelf. The cut was deep and required stitches. The employee assigned to the department was outside at the time of the accident, and no signs were posted prohibiting the use of the bicycles or otherwise warning of any danger.

¶3. Suzette Purser, Seth's mother, filed suit on his behalf on September 14, 2012, alleging negligence on the part of Wal-Mart in failing to keep the premises reasonably safe and warn of danger. After discovery was completed, Wal-Mart filed a motion for summary judgment. Seth filed a response, and Wal-Mart replied. After a hearing, the trial court granted Wal-Mart's motion, finding that no genuine issue of material fact existed because Seth failed to show the existence of a dangerous condition. Seth filed a motion to reconsider, which was denied. Seth now appeals asserting the trial court erred in granting Wal-Mart's motion for summary judgment.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶4. In considering a trial court's grant of a motion for summary judgment, this Court conducts a de novo review and " examines all the evidentiary matters before it -- admissions in pleadings, answers to interrogatories, depositions, affidavits, etc." City of Jackson v. Sutton, 797 So.2d 977, 979 (¶ 7) (Miss. 2001) (citation omitted). The Mississippi Supreme Court recently clarified the summary-judgment standard, explaining that " [t]he movant bears the burden of persuading the trial judge that: (1) no genuine issue of material fact exists, and (2) on the basis of the facts established, he is entitled to [a] judgment as a matter of law." Karpinsky v. Am. Nat'l Ins. Co., 109 So.3d 84, 88 (¶ 11) (Miss. 2013) (citation omitted). The supreme court further stated that " [t]he movant bears the burden of production if, at trial, he would bear the burden of proof on the issue raised. In other words, the movant only bears the burden of production where [he] would bear the burden of proof at trial." Id. at 88-89 (¶ 11) (citations omitted). The supreme court again clarified that " while [d]efendants carry the initial burden of persuading the trial judge that no issue of material fact exists and that they are entitled ...


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