OF JUDGMENT: 08/11/2015
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. WAYMAN DAL WILLIAMSON TRIAL JUDGE
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANTS: STEPHEN W. MULLINS.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: EDWARD C. TAYLOR JOSHUA POWELL
GARROTT KATIE RYAN VAN CAMP.
IRVING, P.J., FAIR AND WILSON, JJ.
This appeal involves homeowners' claims against a
building materials supplier that sold defective Chinese
drywall that was used in the construction of their home. The
circuit court granted summary judgment for the supplier based
on the "innocent seller" provision of the
Mississippi Products Liability Act (MPLA). Miss. Code Ann.
§ 11-1-63(h) (Rev. 2014). The circuit court correctly
concluded that, as a matter of law, the supplier was an
"innocent seller" within the meaning of the MPLA.
Therefore, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
In April 2006, the M/V Sanko Rally departed from
port in Qingdao, China, with a large cargo of Chinese
drywall. The Sanko Rally encountered rough seas, and
upon arrival in Pensacola, Florida, about fifty-five percent
of its cargo was deemed damaged. The drywall
manufacturer's insurer sold some part of the drywall to
Pensacola Stevedore Company, which resold some part to
third-party defendant Gulf Coast Shelter Inc. ("Gulf
Coast"). Between 2006 and 2008, Gulf Coast resold some
of the drywall to defendant-appellee City Salvage Inc., a
building materials supplier in Laurel. In 2008, City Salvage
resold some of the drywall to defendant Ronny Hill
Construction Inc. ("Ronny Hill"), a contractor in
Laurel. Ronny Hill used some of the drywall in a home that it
built for plaintiffs Kent and Laurie Holifield.
In October 2011, the Holifields discovered that the drywall
in their home was made in China. The Holifields allege that
their drywall exhibits defects now known to be common in
drywall manufactured in China during the relevant period,
i.e., it contains elevated levels of sulfur and other
substances, which result in the emission of smelly gasses
that corrode copper piping and wiring and can cause serious
health problems. See In re Chinese Manufactured Drywall
Prods. Liab. Litig., 706 F.Supp.2d 655, 663-66 (E.D. La.
2010). In March 2013, the Holifields filed a "shotgun
complaint, " asserting numerous claims against Ronny
Hill, City Salvage, and unknown manufacturers and
distributors of the drywall. In June 2013, City Salvage
answered and filed a third-party complaint against Gulf
Coast, in which it alleged that it had no knowledge of the
alleged defects in the drywall and that it was entitled to
indemnification from Gulf Coast for any liability to the
On April 24, 2015, City Salvage moved for summary judgment,
arguing that it was immune from liability as an
"innocent seller" pursuant to the MPLA. On July 23,
2015, the Holifields filed their response in opposition to
City Salvage's motion, and a hearing on the motion was
held on July 27, 2015. The circuit court ruled that City
Salvage was an "innocent seller" under the MPLA,
granted summary judgment for City Salvage, and certified its
ruling as final pursuant to Mississippi Rule of Civil
Procedure 54(b). This appeal followed.
Standard of Review
"We review the grant or denial of a motion for summary
judgment de novo, viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to the party against whom the motion has been
made." Karpinsky v. Am. Nat'l. Ins., 109
So.3d 84, 88 (¶9) (Miss. 2013) (quotation marks
omitted). Summary judgment "shall be rendered . . . if
the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact
and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a
matter of law." M.R.C.P. 56(c). "Numerous[, ]
immaterial facts may be controverted, but only those that
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will
properly preclude the entry of summary judgment."
Summers ex rel. Dawson v. St. Andrew's Episcopal
Sch., 759 So.2d 1203, 1208 (¶12) (Miss. 2000)
(quotation marks omitted). In addition, the nonmovant
"may not rest upon ...