BUFFALO SERVICES, INC. d/b/a B-KWIK FOOD MART, BUFFALO SERVICES, INC., CLIFTON VAN CLEAVE AND LANE McCARTY Petitioners
BRANDER SMITH Respondent
D. MAXWELL II, JUSTICE.
matter is before the Court, en banc, on the Petition
for Interlocutory Appeal filed by Petitioners Buffalo
Services, Inc. d/b/a B-Kwik Food Mart, Buffalo Services,
Inc., Clifton Van Cleave, and Lane McCarty (Buffalo Services)
and a response filed by Brander Smith. Buffalo Services seeks
leave to appeal the November 28, 2016 Order of Wilkinson
County Chancery Court, which denied its summary-judgment
motion in Civil Action No. 2016-0003.
due consideration, the Court finds the Petition for
Interlocutory Appeal is well-taken and should be granted. The
Court further finds no additional briefing is necessary.
sued Buffalo Services for premises liability. Buffalo
Services owns two buildings located at 1290 and 1294 Highway
24 in Centerville, Mississippi. Buffalo Services operates a
convenience store and gas station out of one building. It
leased the other building to a discount clothing store
operator. According to Smith's complaint, Smith was in
the clothing store on April 30, 2015, when Donald Galmon
crashed his vehicle into that store, injuring Smith.
alleged Buffalo Services "failed to fulfill their duties
to make their premises reasonably safe for pedestrians
shopping in the subject store from the risk of being struck
by a moving vehicle." In particular, she claimed Buffalo
Services failed in its duty to erect vertical bollards,
"parking stops, " "and/or other physical
barriers in order to prevent the encroachment or obstruction
of pedestrian ways by cars." But as a matter of law,
Buffalo Services owed Smith no such duty.
"Mississippi unequivocally holds that 'no
duty is owed by a convenience store owner, to persons inside
the store, to erect barriers in order to prevent vehicles
from driving through the store's plate glass
window.'" Cheeks v. AutoZone, Inc., 154
So.3d 817, 823 (Miss. 2014) (quoting Carpenter v.
Stop-N-Go Markets of Georgia, Inc., 512 So.2d 708, 709
(Miss. 1987)) (emphasis added). Indeed, as this Court has
found, "[i]t cannot be contended with any degree of
reason or logic that the owner of a store, by failing to
erect an impregnable barrier between the entrance of his
store and an adjacent area where motor vehicles are driven
and parked, should have anticipated that automobiles will be
negligently propelled over the curb and across the sidewalk
into the entrance of his store." Id. "If
as a matter of law such occurrences are to be guarded
against, there would be no limitation on the duty owed by the
owners of establishments into which people are invited to
were two exceptional circumstances in Cheeks, giving
rise to a duty. Not only did the auto business
create a situation that made a vehicle crashing into
a pedestrian entering or exiting the building reasonably
forseeable, but also the auto business assumed a
duty to protect patrons walking in and out of the store from
incoming vehicles by erecting concrete bollards for the
specific purpose of preventing vehicles from crashing into
the front of the store. Id. at 823-24.
we have neither circumstance. Smith has not alleged-let alone
presented evidence-that Buffalo Services created a
situation that made injury to a patron inside the clothing
store by a vehicle reasonably foreseeable. Nor did Buffalo
Services undertake extra measures to protect patrons entering
or exiting the clothing store. While there are bollards on
the property, in contrast to Cheeks, none were
placed to prevent vehicles from crashing into the front of
the store. See id. So there is no evidence
Buffalo Services voluntarily assumed the duty to protect
clothing-store patrons from vehicles driving into the front
of the store. Cf. id. at 823-24.
the general rule, which we affirmed in Cheeks,
applies-as a matter of unequivocal Mississippi law, Buffalo
Services owed Smith no duty to protect her from a
third-party's negligently driving a vehicle into the
clothing store leased by a third party. Id. at 824.
Thus, Smith cannot rely on the lack of bollards, parking
stops, or other physical barriers in front of the clothing
store as evidence of negligence, because Buffalo Services was
under no "duty to erect protective barriers to insure
the safety [of] patrons inside the store" from wayward
vehicles driven by third parties. Id.
Smith failed to establish a premises-liability claim, the
trial court erred when it denied Buffalo Services' motion
for summary judgment.
THEREFORE ORDERED the Petition for Interlocutory Appeal filed
by Buffalo Services, Inc. d/b/a B-Kwik Food Mart; Buffalo
Services, Inc., Clifton Van Cleave and Lane McCarty is hereby
FURTHER ORDERED the Order of the Wilkinson County Circuit
Court, Civil Action No. 2016-0003, dated November 28, 2016,
which denied the Petitioners summary judgment, is reversed
and a judgment is rendered in favor of the Petitioners,
dismissing all claims against them. The notice of appeal
having been deemed filed, the filing fee is due and payable
to the Clerk of this Court.
FURTHER ORDERED Respondent, Brander Smith, is taxed with ...