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Mine Safety Appliance Co. v. Holmes

Supreme Court of Mississippi

April 23, 2015

MINE SAFETY APPLIANCE COMPANY
v.
HUEY P. HOLMES

Page 443

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 444

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: JEFFERSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 09/23/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. LAMAR PICKARD. TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: PATRICK MALOUF, TIMOTHY W. PORTER, JOHN T. GIVENS, CHARLES R. WILBANKS, JR., MATTHEW R. DOWD, G. AUSTIN STEWART.

REVERSED AND RENDERED.

FOR APPELLANT: CHARLES R. WILBANKS, JR., MATTHEW R. DOWD, JOSEPH ANTHONY SCLAFANI, G. AUSTIN STEWART.

FOR APPELLEE: DAVID NEIL McCARTY, R. ALLEN SMITH, JR., TIMOTHY W. PORTER, PATRICK C. MALOUF, JOHN T. GIVENS.

WALLER, CHIEF JUSTICE. DICKINSON AND RANDOLPH, P.JJ., LAMAR, PIERCE AND COLEMAN, JJ., CONCUR. KITCHENS, J., DISSENTS WITH SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION JOINED BY CHANDLER AND KING, JJ.

OPINION

Page 445

EN BANC.

WALLER, CHIEF JUSTICE

[¶1] This is a direct appeal from a judgment awarding Huey P. Holmes, plaintiff/appellee, $875,000 for silicosis-related injuries allegedly caused by a defective respirator sold by the defendant/appellant, Mine Safety Appliances (MSA). We agree with the trial court's ruling that the complaint was filed within the statute of limitations, and that Holmes was exposed to a harmful level of silica during the relevant time period. But we further find the trial judge erred in denying MSA's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) regarding Holmes's warnings claim. We also find that MSA is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law regarding Holmes's design-defect claim because misuse of the respirator materially changed the product's condition after it left MSA's control. We therefore reverse and render on these issues.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

[¶2] In 1958, Huey P. Holmes went to work for T.P. Groome breaking up concrete culverts with a jackhammer. Holmes worked for Groome on and off until 1964.[1] During the six years Holmes worked for Groome, he was exposed to dusty work conditions. Groome provided Holmes a respirator that Holmes identified as a Dustfoe 66 manufactured by MSA. Holmes testified that, although he wore the mask, he often ingested so much ...


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