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Williams v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

July 21, 2015

KIMBERLEE WILLIAMS APPELLANT
v.
LIBERTY MUTUAL FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY OR LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE GROUP, INC. AND LINDSEY STAFFORD APPELLEES

Date 01/10/2014

Desoto County Circuit Court Hon. Robert P. Chamberlin Trial Judge:

Attorney For Appellant: Drayton D. Berkley

Attorneys For Appellees: Clifford Kavanaugh Bailey iii Jeremy dale hawk James Leroy Banks iv

BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES AND JAMES, JJ.

GRIFFIS, P.J.

¶1. Kimberlee Williams filed suit against Lindsey Stafford in DeSoto County Circuit Court for damages stemming from an automobile accident. Williams later joined Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company (Liberty Mutual). Liberty Mutual and Stafford filed separate motions to dismiss, citing forum non conveniens and lack of personal jurisdiction, respectively. The circuit court granted both motions and dismissed the suit with prejudice as to Stafford and without prejudice as to Liberty Mutual. Williams appeals.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2. Williams and Stafford were involved in an automobile accident in Shelby County, Tennessee, on December 15, 2011. Williams, a Tennessee resident, sued Stafford in DeSoto County, Mississippi, on December 17, 2012. Williams alleged Stafford negligently caused the accident and sought compensatory and punitive damages.

¶3. In the complaint, Williams alleged Stafford was a resident of Southaven, Mississippi. On April 26, 2013, the circuit court granted Williams a 120-day extension to serve Stafford with process. Williams served Stafford with the summons and complaint in Tennessee on May 15, 2013.

¶4. Stafford entered an appearance in the case and filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction on June 24, 2013. Stafford contested the circuit court's personal jurisdiction on the basis that she claimed she was a Tennessee resident. Stafford argued that she had changed her domicile from Mississippi to Tennessee in July 2011.

¶5. On September 3, 2013, Williams filed a motion to amend the complaint and join Liberty Mutual. The circuit court granted the motion on September 12, 2013. Liberty Mutual responded with a motion to dismiss on the ground of forum non conveniens.

¶6. The circuit court set a hearing on Stafford's motion to dismiss for September 9, 2013. That day, Williams served Stafford with a second summons and complaint when Stafford appeared at the circuit court on an unrelated criminal matter. The hearing on Stafford's motion was continued until November 18, 2013, when the circuit court heard both motions to dismiss.

¶7. On December 19, 2013, the circuit court entered an order granting Liberty Mutual's motion to dismiss based on forum non conveniens. The circuit court dismissed Liberty Mutual without prejudice provided Liberty Mutual agreed to waive the statute of limitations if Williams refiled the action in Tennessee. On January 10, 2014, the circuit court entered an order granting Stafford's motion to dismiss due to lack of personal jurisdiction. The circuit court dismissed with prejudice. Williams now appeals both judgments.

ANALYSIS

¶8. Williams asserts several issues on appeal. For clarity, we divide the issues as those pertaining to Stafford and those pertaining to Liberty Mutual. "Jurisdictional issues are reviewed pursuant to a de novo standard of review." Joshua Props. LLC v. D1 SportsHoldings LLC, 130 So.3d 1089, 1092 (ΒΆ8) (Miss. 2014) (citation omitted). "Jurisdiction is decided based on the existing facts at the time the action is ...


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