ROBERTS COMPANY, INC. f/k/a R & M FOODS, INC.
OF JUDGMENT: 06/08/2015
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. WINSTON L. KIDD
COURT ATTORNEYS: JAMES W. NOBLES, JR. DENNIS C. SWEET, III A.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: A. LA'VERNE EDNEY FREDERICK N.
SALVO, III ADAM H. GATES JESSICA Z. BARGER SHELLEY J. WHITE
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: CRYSTAL WISE MARTIN JAMES W. NOBLES,
In this slip-and-fall case, the jury returned a verdict in
the defendant's favor, and the trial court entered
judgment in accordance with that verdict. Plaintiff Marcus
Moore filed a post-trial motion arguing, among other things,
that one of the jurors was a convicted felon and therefore,
statutorily disqualified. The trial judge agreed and granted
Moore a new trial. This Court granted the defendant's
petition for an interlocutory appeal, and we reverse the
trial court's order granting a new trial, we render
judgment here reinstating the trial court's judment
entered in accordance with the jury verdict.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
In 1989, Marcus Moore slipped and fell in a grocery store
owned by the defendant, Roberts Company, Inc.
("RCI"). Moore was three years old at the time, and
he allegedly struck his head when he fell. After he reached
the age of majority, Moore filed suit against RCI, claiming
that RCI was negligent in allowing the floor to be slick.
Moore also alleged that the fall had caused "marked and
significant traumatic and permanent injuries to his brain,
" leaving him with "permanent and profound
deficits" in several areas.
Following a ten-day trial, the jury found in RCI's favor.
Although all twelve jurors found that RCI had been negligent,
nine jurors found that RCI's negligence was not a
proximate cause of Moore's injuries. The trial judge
entered a final judgment on the jury's verdict, rendering
judgment in favor of RCI and dismissing all of Moore's
claims with prejudice.
Following the jury's verdict but before entry of final
judgment, Moore's mother (Mary) sent a letter to
Moore's attorneys purportedly firing them. She then filed a
pro se notice of appeal. A few days later, Moore's
attorneys filed the post-trial motion at issue in this
appeal, asking for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or in
the alternative, a new trial. Then, a month after the
post-trial motion was filed, a Hinds County chancellor
entered an order removing Mary as conservator "for
failure to uphold the duties set forth in [the order
appointing her]." The chancellor also prohibited Mary
from filing anything on Moore's behalf, found that she
was "not authorized" to file the notice of appeal
nor to fire Moore's attorneys, and that Moore's
attorneys were authorized to "fully prosecute" his
interests in the case. The chancellor appointed chancery
clerk Eddie Jean Carr as Moore's conservator going
In Moore's post-trial motion, he argued that "Juror
Foreperson John L. Turner [was] a convicted felon."
Citing Mississippi Code Section 13-5-1 and Fleming v.
State, 687 So.2d 146 (Miss. 1997), Moore argued that
Turner "clearly was not a qualified juror and as a
result the verdict of the jury must be reversed." RCI
countered that the trial court had lost jurisdiction to
decide the post-trial motion once Mary filed her notice of
appeal. RCI also argued that Section 13-5-1 says specifically
that a juror's lack of qualification "shall not . .
. vitiate an indictment or verdict."
After a hearing, the trial judge found that
The plaintiff filed the herein motion for Judgment
Notwithstanding the Verdict setting forth a number of grounds
supporting his motion. The Court, after reviewing this
matter, finds that the issue with respect to Juror Foreperson
John L. Turner has merit. The issue before the court is
whether Juror Turner's failure to reveal he was a
convicted felon disqualified him as a juror.
. . .
The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and remanded a
criminal conviction in Fleming v. State, 687 So.2d
146 (Miss. 1997) [, ] on the grounds that one of the jurors
failed to reveal that he was a convicted felon. Moreover,
Mississippi Code Annotated Section 13-5-l, in relevant part,
states in order to be a competent juror, the person must not
have been convicted of an infamous crime.
John Turner was not merely a juror in this matter. He was the
Jury Foreperson. Obviously, the jury foreperson has a great
responsibility in presiding over deliberations and making
sure the verdict tendered to the court is in the proper form.
No one knows what took place in the jury room other than the
jurors. As noted in Fleming, prejudice is presumed.
The plaintiff had no opportunity to challenge Juror
Turner's convicted felon status. Therefore, the court
finds there is indeed ...