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Doe v. Holmes County School District

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

May 8, 2018

JANE DOE APPELLANT
v.
HOLMES COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 08/08/2016

          HOLMES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. JANNIE M. LEWIS JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: JOHN CURTIS HALL II

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: SANDRA DENISE BUCHANAN KYE CNEE' HANDY

          BEFORE LEE, C.J., WILSON AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.

          WESTBROOKS, J.

         ¶1. This action derives from a civil suit filed by minor Jane Doe, [1] individually, against the Holmes County School District (HCSD) under the Mississippi Tort Claims Act (MTCA) in the Holmes County Circuit Court. HCSD filed a motion to dismiss alleging that the statute of limitations had run on Jane's claim and that she lacked standing to file the complaint. In turn, Jane filed a motion for substitution of parties. The circuit court granted HCSD's motion to dismiss and denied Jane's motion for substitution. After reviewing the record, we reverse the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Jane's complaint and denying her motion for substitution. We remand this matter for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. In 2013, Jane was a sixteen-year-old high-school student at J.J. McClain High School[2] in Lexington, Mississippi. On April 4, 2013, George Lomax, the assistant principal, summoned Jane to the band hall and sexually assaulted her.

         ¶3. Jane reported the assault to her cousin, who was also a student at the high school. Jane maintains that she and her cousin reported the sexual assault to a school employee; however, no further action was taken. As a result, Jane notified her parents of the assault after arriving home from school, and her parents called the police. Lomax was subsequently arrested and convicted of assaulting Jane.

         ¶4. On March 26, 2014, Jane, through her parents as her next friends and natural guardians, served a notice of claim to HCSD. On April 23, 2014, HCSD sent a formal denial letter. However, Jane's parents never filed a complaint following their receipt of the denial letter. In October 2015, a second notice of claim was sent, and on January 29, 2016, Jane filed a complaint against HCSD on her own behalf. At the time, Jane was nineteen years old.

         ¶5. HCSD filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that the statute of limitations had run on Jane's claim because of its 2014 denial letter. In response, Jane filed a motion to substitute her mother as an interested party under Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 17. The circuit court granted HCSD's motion to dismiss and denied Jane's motion for substitution. Jane appeals.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶6. "When considering a motion to dismiss, this Court's standard of review is de novo." Scaggs v. GPCH-GP Inc., 931 So.2d 1274, 1275 (ΒΆ6) (Miss. 2006). "[T]he allegations in the complaint must be taken as true and the motion should not be granted unless it appears beyond doubt that the ...


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