SANDERSON FARMS, INC. AND GEORGE VARNADO
D. D. McCULLOUGH
OF JUDGMENT: 05/20/2015
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. DAVID H. STRONG, JR. Judge
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS: RICHARD O. BURSON SHIRLEY M. MOORE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: ORVIS A. SHIYOU, JR.
This case comes to the Court on interlocutory appeal of the
Lincoln County Circuit court's Order Denying the
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Although the
plaintiff's overarching claim is framed in negligence, it
factually sounds in intentional tort and is subsequently
barred by the one-year statute of limitations under
Mississippi Code Section 15-1-49. Therefore, this Court
reverses the trial court's Order Denying Summary
Judgement and renders a verdict in favor of the Defendant.
The following facts are disputed, though they have been
summarized based on both party's briefs, deposition
transcripts, and trial court orders.
On May 24, 2010, Plaintiff/Respondent D.D. McCullough was
injured when he was struck by a vehicle driven by
Petitioner/Defendant George Varnado. Varnado, an employee of
Petitioner/Defendant Sanderson Farms, Inc., visited
McCullough's chicken farm that afternoon to inspect its
chicken houses, as directed by his employer. Consistent with
a Boiler Production Agreement (BPA) McCullough signed earlier
that year,  Varnado sought to conduct a routine
evaluation of the chicken-house conditions to ensure they met
the standards under the contract.
Throughout his inspection, Varnado discovered deficiencies in
violation of the BPA, after which he returned to the cab of
his truck and began to write a deficiency report. McCullough
approached Varnado's vehicle and asked what he was doing,
to which Varnado responded, that he was "writing
deficiencies." Recognizing this report would affect the
terms of the BPA and potentially terminate his contract,
McCullough stood at the closed driver's side window and
shouted to Varnado, "you lied to me, you gave me four
days . . . its [sic] only been two!" He then moved in
front of Varnado's truck and yelled at him to get out to
talk about the report. Varnado remained in the truck, with
the doors locked and window closed, refusing to exit the
McCullough continued to urge Varnardo to "get out and
talk." Without warning or a discernable request to leave
the property,  Varnado then "mashed the gas, "
striking McCullogh with the vehicle. This contact forced
McCullough back roughly two feet but did not cause him to
fall. He again urged Varnado to get out and talk, but Varnado
refused and instead moved his truck "straightforward,
" hitting McCullough a second time. McCullough again
stumbled backward, though he did not fall.
McCullough approached the vehicle a third time and implored
Varnado to get out and talk, while Varnado continued to yell
inaudible responses from the safety of the truck cab. Varnado
then moved the truck forward and "went straight through,
" knocking McCullough's "ass off, "
causing him to fall and hit his head on the truck's
bumper. The impact pushed McCullough to the side of the
truck, after which Varnado continued to drive off and exited
Following the altercation, Varnado returned to
McCullough's property, accompanied by several Sanderson
officials and a deputy sheriff. The officials and the deputy
approached McCullough's home in an effort to discuss the
incident. They requested that McCullough go with them to the
Sanderson office to discuss it further, but he refused and
said that he was going to the emergency room instead. The
officials, Varnado, and the deputy then left the property.
On May 26, two days following the incident, McCullough
received a letter from Sanderson, terminating the BPA. The
termination letter cited the BPA and noted that McCullough
had violated both the duty to not interfere with Sanderson
employees in the execution of their duties and the duty to
not use threatening language toward those same employees.
That same day,  Sanderson officials removed roughly 99,
000 chickens and their supplies from McCullough's farm
and severed the relationship.
McCullough subsequently filed two lawsuits; the first, which
alleged Sanderson's breach of contract, was dismissed on
summary judgment. The second-the case at hand-alleges that
Varnado (and, as a result, Sanderson) breached the duty of
reasonable care to operate a motor vehicle safely when
Varnado failed to allow McCullough to move out of the
truck's path prior to accelerating forward. Following a
period of discovery, Sanderson and Varnado moved for summary
judgment, claiming that McCullough's suit alleged a tort
in negligence where, factually, the actions identified would
constitute an intentional tort. Sanderson asserts that,
sounding in intentional tort, McCullough's claims are
time-barred and the suit should be dismissed.
The trial judge reviewed the partys' arguments and
determined that, because Varnado denies having hit McCullough
with his truck, much less intentionally doing so, a genuine
issue of material fact exists surrounding the claims. The
court denied the defendant's motion, and Sanderson filed
On interlocutory appeal, and in their motion for summary
judgment, Sanderson and Varnado (collectively, Defendants)
argue the following issues:
I. Whether Plaintiff's sworn testimony demonstrates
he alleges an intentional tort which is barred by the
one-year statute of limitations.
II. Whether Sanderson is liable for the intentional acts
alleged by Plaintiff.
III. Whether Plaintiff has abandoned any claim against
Sanderson related to the May 24, 2010, incident for failing
to comply with the party's ...