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Estate of Davis v. Blaylock

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

January 5, 2017

ESTATE OF RICHARD B. DAVIS, BY AND THROUGH ITS EXECUTRIX, JANICE Y. DAVIS
v.
DARRELL N. BLAYLOCK, MD d/b/a BLAYLOCK MEDICAL CLINIC, LLC ESTATE OF RICHARD B. DAVIS BY AND THROUGH ITS EXECUTRIX JANICE Y. DAVIS
v.
DELTA REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER ESTATE OF RICHARD B. DAVIS, BY AND THROUGH ITS EXECUTRIX, JANICE Y. DAVIS
v.
DELTA REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 08/13/2015

         WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. W. ASHLEY HINES TRIAL JUDGE.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: LEVI BOONE, III KELVIN CEDELL PULLEY.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: JACOB O. MALATESTA L. CARL HAGWOOD.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: P. SCOTT PHILLIPS GREGORY WEATHERS VIRDEN, JR.

          MAXWELL, JUSTICE.

         ¶1. This Court has held "that the first court to properly take jurisdiction of a wrongful death action in our state courts shall, so long as the action is pending, have exclusive jurisdiction, and any other subsequently-filed action for the same death shall be of no effect."[1] Despite this clear holding, Janice Y. Davis (Davis)-after filing an action for the wrongful death of her father, Richard B. Davis, and while that action was pending-filed three additional, separate wrongful-death actions, two of which were against the same defendant. Because these three subsequent actions were of "no effect, " they were properly dismissed. Thus, we affirm the judgments dismissing the three subsequently filed wrongful-death actions.

         Background Facts and Procedural History

         ¶2. This appeal is a consolidation of three appeals, one from each of the subsequently filed wrongful-death lawsuits that was dismissed by the circuit court.

         I. Davis's Four Suits

         A. Lawsuit 1 versus Dr. Barber

         ¶3. Davis filed her first wrongful-death suit against William H. Barber, M.D., on November 4, 2014, in the Washington County Circuit Court. Estate of Richard B. Davis v. William H. Barber, MD, Washington County Cause No. 2014-0134 (Lawsuit 1). She claimed Dr. Barber's medical negligence caused her father Richard's death on September 21, 2013. Lawsuit 1 is not part of this appeal.

         B. Lawsuit 2 versus Dr. Blaylock

         ¶4. Fifteen days later, on November 19, 2014, she filed another suit based on her father's wrongful death. Estate of Richard B. Davis v. Darrell N. Blaylock, MD d/b/a Blaylock Med. Clinic, Washington County Cause No. 2014-0139 (Lawsuit 2). This time she sued Darrell N. Blaylock, M.D., alleging his medical negligence caused her father's death.

         C. Lawsuit 3 versus DRMC

         ¶5. The same day she filed Lawsuit 2, she filed a third wrongful-death lawsuit against Delta Regional Medical Center (DRMC) "based upon the separate negligence committed by Delta Regional Medical Center." Estate of Richard B. Davis v. Delta Reg'l Med. Ctr., Washington County Cause No. 2014-0140 (Lawsuit 3).

         D. Lawsuit 4 versus DRMC

         ¶6. Then on December 10, 2014, she filed a fourth wrongful-death suit, also against DRMC, "arising from alleged medical and nursing negligence relating to care provided to Richard B. Davis, Sr.[, ] by Darrell N. Blaylock, M.D. and the nursing staff of Delta Regional Medical Center." Estate of Richard B. Davis v. Delta Reg'l Med. Ctr., Washington County Cause No. 2014-0146 (Lawsuit 4).

         II. Motions to Dismiss

         ¶7. Simultaneously with its answers, DRMC filed motions to dismiss both Lawsuit 3 and Lawsuit 4. Because Davis already had filed Lawsuit 1, which was still pending, DRMC argued Lawsuits 3 and 4 had to be dismissed.

         ¶8. Davis responded by filing a "Motion to Combine and Amend Complaint" in both Lawsuit 3 and Lawsuit 4. In her motions, Davis acknowledged she had filed four separate wrongful-death lawsuits. And she attached to her motions a proposed First Amended Complaint that named Dr. Barber, Dr. Blaylock, and DRMC as defendants.

         ¶9. While DRMC's and Davis's motions were pending, Dr. Blaylock moved to dismiss Lawsuit 2. Like DRMC, Dr. Blaylock cited the still-pending Lawsuit 1. While Davis filed a response, she did not file a motion to combine and amend in Lawsuit 2.[2] Nor, ...


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