Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Sanderson Farms, Inc. v. McCullough

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

February 2, 2017


          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/20/2015




          BEAM, JUSTICE

         ¶1. 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.


         ¶2. The following facts are disputed, though they have been summarized based on both party's briefs, deposition transcripts, and trial court orders.[1]

         ¶3. 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, [2] Varnado sought to conduct a routine evaluation of the chicken-house conditions to ensure they met the standards under the contract.

         ¶4. 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."[3] 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 vehicle.

         ¶5. McCullough continued to urge Varnardo to "get out and talk." Without warning or a discernable request to leave the property, [4] 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.

         ¶6. 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 the property.

         ¶7. 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.

         ¶8. 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, [5] Sanderson officials removed roughly 99, 000 chickens and their supplies from McCullough's farm and severed the relationship.

         ¶9. 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.

         ¶10. 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 this appeal.

         ¶11. 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 ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.