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Williams v. Potter & Sims Foods, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

September 26, 2017

SHARON WILLIAMS APPELLANT
v.
POTTER & SIMS FOODS, INC. D/B/A FOOD DEPOT APPELLEE

          DATE JUDGMENT: 10/14/2015

         COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. JEFF WEILL SR.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: FRANK THACKSTON

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: FRANCES R. SHIELDS

         EN BANC.

          IRVING, P.JUDGE.

         ¶1. The Hinds County Circuit Court, First Judicial District, granted Potter & Sims Food Inc. d/b/a Food Depot's (Food Depot) motion for summary judgment, finding no genuine issue of material fact was raised by Sharon Williams's complaint. Believing that the circuit court erred, Sharon appeals.

         ¶2. We find no error; therefore, we affirm.

         FACTS

         ¶3. On May 1, 2013, Williams was shopping at Food Depot in Jackson, Mississippi. In a complaint filed against Food Depot on July 9, 2014, she alleged that she inhaled a white powder that emanated from the inside of a box of light bulbs when she shook the box. The box contained a broken bulb or bulbs. Apparently, there is a video that was not made a part of the record on appeal showing Williams removing a box of bulbs from the shelf, shaking it, and returning it to the shelf. In any event, she reported the incident to a cashier, and the next day she met with the manager, Aubrey Wren, and filled out an incident report. Wren admitted in his deposition that, as a matter of store policy, defective merchandise is not allowed on the store's shelves.

         ¶4. Williams alleged that she sustained injuries, for which she obtained medical treatment, including nasal surgery, as a result of inadvertently inhaling the powder/dust from the broken incandescent light bulbs. She also alleged that the light bulbs were broken as a result of the negligent actions on the part of the store's employees and that the Food Depot failed to exercise ordinary care to discover the presence of the powder on or about the outside of the light-bulb box when the boxes were placed on the shelves. She further alleged that the Food Depot employees failed to exercise reasonable care to discover and remove the boxes from the shelves when it was foreseeable that the boxes would be handled by customers-a failure, she argues, that constituted negligence.

         ¶5. Food Depot, in its answer, denied all allegations of negligence. Food Depot did not dispute that the bulbs were broken; however, who broke the bulbs and whether the Food Depot knew that the broken bulbs were on the shelf were contested issues. After depositions, the trial was set to begin on August 3, 2015, with the deadline for designating experts set for June 4, 2015. On June 17, 2015, Food Depot filed a motion for summary judgment; Williams responded on July 13, 2015. However, on July 8, 2015, approximately one month before trial, Williams filed a motion seeking an order allowing her to take the deposition of her treating physician, Dr. Jadien Young. The circuit court denied her motion on two bases: it was untimely, as the deadline to designate expert witnesses had passed, and according to the deposition testimony of Dr. Young, Williams's injures were not connected to the incident at Food Depot, or at least, Dr. Young could not make the connection. On or about October 14, 2015, the circuit court issued its order granting Food Depot's summary-judgment motion. This appeal followed.

         DISCUSSION

         ¶6. Our standard of review is succinctly addressed in Gorman-Rupp Co. v. Hall, 908 So.2d 749, ...


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