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Humphries v. Virlilia Road Conservation Group LLC

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

December 11, 2018

GEORGE W. HUMPHRIES IV APPELLANT
v.
VIRLILIA ROAD CONSERVATION GROUP LLC APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 09/28/2017

          MADISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. STEVE S. RATCLIFF III TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: DANIEL DEWAYNE WARE

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: ADAM STONE JACKIE RAY BOST II KAYTIE MICHELLE PICKETT

          BEFORE LEE, C.J., GREENLEE AND TINDELL, JJ.

          LEE, C.J.

         ¶1. George W. Humphries filed a complaint against Virlilia Road Conservation Group LLC (VRC) in Madison County Circuit Court alleging he suffered injuries as a result of the negligence of an off-duty sheriff's deputy hired by VRC. In this appeal, we must determine if the circuit court properly granted summary judgment in VRC's favor.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Humphries's alleged injury occurred on December 28, 2014. He filed his first complaint on December 14, 2015, against Cameron Plantation. After learning that the off-duty sheriff's deputy, Officer Robert Sanders, had been hired by VRC, Humphries filed a motion to amend his complaint. The circuit court granted his motion, and Humphries filed the amended complaint on September 7, 2016, adding VRC as a defendant.

         ¶3. The circuit court ultimately granted VRC's motion for summary judgment and dismissed Humphries's suit with prejudice. Humphries now appeals, asserting numerous issues all relating to whether summary judgment was properly granted in VRC's favor.

         FACTS

         ¶4. Due to concerns about illegal hunting in the area of Cloud Road and Virlilia Road in Madison County, Mississippi, VRC hired off-duty police officers to patrol the area. On December 28, 2014, Officer Sanders was patrolling the area. At the time, Officer Sanders was a reserve deputy sheriff for Madison County and the assistant chief for the Madison Police Department. Officer Sanders stated that he saw a truck stopped in the center of Cloud Road for several minutes. As he approached the truck, Officer Sanders stated that he tried to get the driver's attention, but the truck accelerated. Officer Sanders stopped the truck and noticed that the driver appeared nervous. Officer Sanders saw two additional men in the truck and also noticed open containers of beer. He saw Humphries-sitting in the rear passenger seat-appear to reach for something. Officer Sanders then asked the three men to exit the truck and noticed a rifle in the rear passenger seat with several rounds of ammunition next to it. According to Officer Sanders, Humphries admitted to removing the bullets from the rifle after seeing Officer Sanders's patrol car.

         ¶5. In his deposition, Officer Sanders said that he decided to conduct an investigative stop based upon the suspicious activity of the truck, stating that "the suspicious activity would be he's sitting in the middle of the road for a length of time." Specifically, he noted that the truck was obstructing a public road, which is a misdemeanor.

         ¶6. Officer Sanders then called Agent Greg Walters, who worked for the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Agent Walters arrived and searched the truck. In addition to the rifle, he found marijuana and a loaded pistol in the truck. He also discovered that all three men had prior convictions. Agent Walters then arrested all three men and arranged their transport to jail. Another Madison County Sheriff's Department employee, Officer Kyrie Lucas, transported Humphries to jail. Humphries claims he was injured due to Officer Lucas's reckless driving. According to Humphries, ...


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