OF JUDGMENT: 02/08/2016
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. LAMAR PICKARD JUDGE.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: DAVID M. SESSUMS KIMBERLY WALKER
NAILOR W. RICHARD JOHNSON.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: BENJAMIN LYLE ROBINSON MICHAEL
MADISON TAYLOR JR.
IRVING, P.J., CARLTON AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.
John Calvin Howard attended a party at the Claiborne County
Convention Center (Convention Center), where he was assaulted
by a group of fellow partygoers and sustained injuries.
Howard brought suit against the following: Linda Walker, the
owner of the Convention Center, in her individual capacity
and doing business as Rolin Enterprises, LLC (Rolin); Charlie
Norrell, who provided security services for the party, in his
individual capacity and doing business as Celebrity 1
Security; and Triston Moore, who coordinated the event.
Walker and Rolin filed a motion for summary judgment, which
the Claiborne County Circuit Court granted. Howard appeals.
Because the circuit court's summary-judgment order and
subsequent final judgment did not dispose of all parties
involved in this matter or certify that the final judgment
was entered pursuant to Rule 54(b) of the Mississippi Rules
of Civil Procedure, we must dismiss the appeal for lack of
Walker, doing business as Rolin, owned the Convention Center,
which she rented to third parties for various events. Moore
rented the Convention Center from Walker for the
purpose of hosting a party following an Alcorn State football
game on September 14, 2013. Howard and a group of his
friends, including another young man named Michael Moseley,
arrived to the Convention Center around 11:30 p.m. on
September 14, 2013, as the party was well underway. Shortly
after arriving, Howard and Moseley were on the dance floor
when they were assaulted by other partygoers, one of whom was
later identified as Justin Bailey. Security, including
Norrell, broke up the fight and separated the two groups by
sending Bailey and his accomplices outside, while telling
Howard and Moseley to wait on-stage for a few minutes. After
about ten to fifteen minutes, Howard and Moseley decided to
leave the Convention Center. Norrell escorted them outside.
As they were crossing the parking lot, the same group from
before attacked Howard and Moseley a second time. Howard
maintains that Bailey stabbed him in the neck with a broken
beer bottle. According to Howard, Norrell did not take any
action to stop the fight, but merely watched it take place.
The fight was finally broken up by a third party, and Howard
was airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical
Center, where he was treated for lacerations to his neck,
shoulder, and back.
Howard filed a complaint against Rolin, alleging that it had
failed to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe
condition. Howard then sought, and was granted, leave of
court to file an amended complaint, joining Norrell,
individually and doing business as Celebrity 1 Security,
Moore, and Walker in her individual capacity. After obtaining
leave of court, Howard amended his complaint accordingly.
The record reflects that process was served on Norrell on
October 25, 2014, but does not show that Norrell ever filed
an answer. Both parties in their appellate briefs agree that
Norrell was served with process, but that Moore was not. The
docket indicates that Norrell continued to be noticed of
certain orders throughout discovery (including an order
setting the pretrial conference date and a later order
continuing the pretrial conference to another date), along
with Walker and Rolin's attorneys. However, Norrell never
filed any pleadings or responses of his own. Further, no
entry of default judgment was ever entered against him.
Howard and Walker proceeded with discovery. Howard, Walker,
and Moore provided depositions. Walker twice scheduled and
noticed depositions for Norrell, but Norrell failed to appear
both times. The only correspondence with Norrell included in
the record is an email from Walker's counsel to
Howard's, wherein Walker informed Howard on the night
before Norrell's second scheduled deposition was to take
place that it would be cancelled, as Norrell told Walker that
he was out of the state and would be unable to attend.
Shortly thereafter, Walker and Rolin filed their motion for
summary judgment, which, as stated, was granted without the
judgment being certified pursuant to Rule 54(b).
"Because this issue is jurisdictional, we must address
it on our initiative even though none of the parties have
raised it on appeal." Jackson v. Lowe, 65 So.3d
879, 881 (¶5) (Miss. Ct. App. 2011) (citing M.W.F.
v. D.D.F., 926 So.2d 897, 899 (¶4) (Miss. 2006)).
"Generally, only ...