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Mixon v. Mississippi Department of Transportation

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

May 26, 2015

TIMOTHY B. MIXON APPELLANT
v.
MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND ROBERT I. FULTON APPELLEES

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/09/2015

NOXUBEE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. JAMES T. KITCHENS JR. TRIAL JUDGE.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: WILLIAM T. MAY KENNETH DUSTIN MARKHAM.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES: KATHERINE S. KERBY.

BEFORE IRVING, P.J., ISHEE AND CARLTON, JJ.

IRVING, P.J.

¶1. The Circuit Court of Noxubee County granted summary judgment in favor of the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) pursuant to the Mississippi Tort Claims Act (MTCA), specifically Mississippi Code Annotated section 11-46-9(1)(d) (Rev. 2012).[1]In this appeal, this Court is called upon to decide whether the MTCA shields MDOT from liability. Finding that it does not, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

FACTS

¶2. On January 21, 2009, Robert and passenger Samuel Clark, both MDOT employees, while in the course and scope of their employment, drove an MDOT pickup truck in a southwestern direction on Mississippi Highway 21, a two-lane highway. Robert eventually parked the pickup near a sign located on the southwestern side of the highway so that he and Samuel could verify the sign's global-positioning-satellite (GPS) coordinates. To the northeast of the sign is a deep curve.

¶3. At around 2 p.m., while the pickup was still parked near the sign, Timothy Mixon rounded the curve in a logging truck, traveling southbound at a speed of at least fifty-five miles per hour. Before reaching the pickup, Timothy maneuvered the logging truck from the southbound lane into the northbound lane but continued driving southbound. The exact position of the pickup at the time Timothy rounded the curve is in dispute. Timothy contends that the pickup was located partly in the southbound lane, while Robert contends that the pickup was parked completely on the west side of the southbound lane. In any event, as Timothy continued southbound, Robert, at some point, maneuvered the pickup into the northbound lane, and the two trucks collided. As a result of the collision, Samuel died, and Timothy and Robert suffered severe injuries.

¶4. Following the accident, Timothy filed a complaint against Robert and MDOT. Thereafter, MDOT filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming immunity under Mississippi Code Annotated section 11-46-9(1)(a), (d), and (e) (Rev. 2012).[2] The circuit court granted MDOT's motion, pursuant to section 11-46-9(1)(d), leading to this appeal.

DISCUSSION

¶5. The standard of review for summary-judgment motions is well settled:

For a summary judgment motion to be granted there must exist no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party must be entitled to judgment as a matter of law. We apply a de novo standard of review to a trial court's grant of summary judgment. The moving party has the burden of demonstrating that no genuine issue of material fact exists, and the ...

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