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Woodall v. AAA Ambulance Serv., Inc.

Supreme Court of Mississippi

April 23, 2015

CYNTHIA S. WOODALL, INDIVIDUALLY, AS ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE, AND ON BEHALF OF ALL WRONGFUL DEATH BENEFICIARIES, OF CLIFTON WOODALL, DECEASED
v.
AAA AMBULANCE SERVICE, INC

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: PIKE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/04/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. MICHAEL M. TAYLOR.

FOR APPELLANT: JAMES F. NOBLE, III.

FOR APPELLEE: MICHAEL J. TARLETON.

BEFORE DICKINSON, P.J., PIERCE AND COLEMAN, JJ.

OPINION

DICKINSON, J.

¶1. In this wrongful-death suit, the circuit judge found that, because the defendant was an instrumentality of governmental entities, the suit was controlled by the Mississippi Tort Claims Act. And because the plaintiff failed to file her complaint within the one-year statute of limitations, the circuit judge granted the defendants summary judgment. We affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2. Cynthia Woodall filed this wrongful-death action in the Pike County Circuit Court against AAA Ambulance Service, Inc., and Phillip McKey, AAA emergency medical technician-paramedic.

¶3. On July 3, 2010, Cynthia Woodall's husband suffered a cardiac arrest while

Page 1072

working as a heating and cooling contractor at a home in McComb, Mississippi. The homeowner promptly called 911 at 11:54 a.m., and the Pike County Civil Defense/Emergency Management Agency transferred that call to AAA at 11:55 a.m. Woodall alleges that AAA then failed to respond and arrive in a timely manner, and that the ambulance crew, including McKey, failed to follow established protocol for cardiac-arrest response and made minimal attempts to provide Mr. Woodall proper care.

¶4. On February 24, 2012, Woodall filed this wrongful-death action. AAA and McKey responded with a combined answer and motion to dismiss for failure to timely file, arguing that they were protected governmental entities, and that the Mississippi Tort Claims Act provided the sole procedural avenue for Woodall's claim. They further argued that Woodall had failed to file within the Act's one-year statute of limitations, and that Woodall had failed to provide the Act's required ninety-day pre-suit notice.

¶5. The circuit judge denied the motion without prejudice, allowing the parties to conduct discovery about whether the defendants were entitled to Tort Claims Act protection. The parties renewed their arguments in a motion for summary judgment and response. Following a hearing, the circuit judge determined that AAA and McKey were ...


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