OF JUDGMENT: 10/19/2015
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SECOND JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. JAMES
MCCLURE III, TRIAL
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: DRAYTON D. BERKLEY
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: MITCHELL ORVIS DRISKELL III
GRIFFIS, P.J., ISHEE AND WILSON, JJ.
Arlene Carothers appeals the judgment of the Yalobusha County
Circuit Court wherein the circuit court found the automobile
collision involving her vehicle and a City of Water Valley
police car did not occur as a result of reckless disregard by
a government employee. We find no error and affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On September 5, 2012, Carothers was stopped at a traffic
light when her car was rear- ended by a City of Water Valley
police car, driven by Officer Marshal Jackson. Both vehicles
sustained only minor damage and both were operable after the
collision. Officer Jackson suffered no bodily injuries, but
Carothers testified that she sustained injuries to her head,
left knee, and hand. Carothers drove herself to the emergency
room where she received treatment for a contusion (bruise) on
her left knee.
Immediately before the accident, both parties were traveling
in the same direction toward the traffic signal. The speed
limit on Main Street was twenty-five miles per hour. Officer
Jackson testified that he was driving ten miles per hour as
he neared the traffic light. He estimated there was
approximately one car length between his car and
Carothers's vehicle just before the accident.
Officer Jackson testified that he looked away for one and a
half seconds when he reached for his cellular phone. He
testified that his two-way radio was inoperable, and he
intended to use his cell phone to respond to radio traffic.
According to Officer Jackson, Carothers's brake lights
were not activated, and he did not anticipate her stopping at
that precise moment. At the time of the accident, Officer
Jackson was on patrol in the area. He was not in pursuit of a
suspect, did not have his blue lights or siren activated, and
was not responding to an emergency dispatch.
Carothers filed a complaint against the City seeking monetary
damages for her injuries. In her complaint, she alleged that
Officer Jackson's actions were negligent and evinced
reckless disregard for her safety and well-being. Carothers
further alleged that the City was directly negligent in its
entrustment, training, supervision, retention, and hiring of
In its answer, the City asserted immunity as a governmental
entity, pursuant to Mississippi Code Annotated sections
11-46-1 to -23 (Rev. 2012 & Supp. 2016). The City also
admitted vicarious liability for Officer Jackson's
conduct, if he acted with reckless disregard. However, the
City denied direct liability and reckless disregard by the
officer. The City also filed a motion to dismiss
Carothers's direct-liability claims. In its motion, the
City asserted the prior admission of vicarious liability and
the discretionary-function-immunity provision barred
Carothers's direct-liability claim.
After a hearing on the motion, the trial court dismissed
Carothers's direct-liability claims. On October 5, 2015,
the vicarious-liability claim proceeded to a bench trial
wherein the trial judge entered his findings of fact and
conclusions of law. The trial court characterized the
collision as a "fender bender" and found that the
matter was a simple-negligence case. The trial court held
that the claim was governed by the Mississippi Tort Claims
Act (MTCA), pursuant to section ...