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F & S Sand, Inc. v. Stringfellow

Supreme Court of Mississippi

February 28, 2019

F & S SAND, INC., F & S ABRASIVE COMPANY, INC., DEPENDABLE ABRASIVES, INC. (DISSOLVED), MISSISSIPPI VALLEY SILICA COMPANY, INC., EMPIRE ABRASIVE EQUIPMENT CORPORATION AND DRAVO BASIC MATERIALS COMPANY, INC. AND AMERICAN OPTICAL CORPORATION
v.
TED STRINGFELLOW DRAVO BASIC MATERIALS COMPANY, INC., EMPIRE ABRASIVE EQUIPMENT CORPORATION, F&S ABRASIVE COMPANY, INC., F&S SAND, INC. DEPENDABLE AND DEPENDABLE ABRASIVES, INC. (DISSOLVED), MISSISSIPPI VALLEY SILICA COMPANY, INC.
v.
TED STRINGFELLOWF&S SAND, INC., F&S ABRASIVE COMPANY, INC., DEPENDABLE ABRASIVES, INC. (DISSOLVED), MISSISSIPPI VALLEY SILICA COMPANY, INC., EMPIRE ABRASIVE EQUIPMENT CORPORATION AND DRAVO BASIC MATERIALS COMPANY, INC.
v.
TED STRINGFELLOW EMPIRE ABRASIVE EQUIPMENT CORPORATION, DRAVO BASIC MATERIALS COMPANY, INC., MISSISSIPPI VALLEY SILICA COMPANY, INC., DEPENDABLE ABRASIVES, INC. (DISSOLVED), F&S SAND ABRASIVE COMPANY, INC., F&S SAND, INC.
v.
TED STRINGFELLOW AMERICAN OPTICAL COMPANY, MISSISSIPPI VALLEY SILICA COMPANY, INC., MINE SAFETY APPLIANCE COMPANY, LLC, DEPENDABLE ABRASIVES, INC. (DISSOLVED), EMPIRE ABRASIVE EQUIPMENT CORPORATION, DRAVO BASIC MATERIALS COMPANY, INC., F & S SAND, INC. AND F & S ABRASIVE COMPANY, INC.
v.
TED STRINGFELLOW

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/19/2017

          JEFFERSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. LAMAR PICKARD TRIAL JUDGE

          TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: PATRICK MALOUF JOHN TIMOTHY GIVENS JENNIFER JONES SKIPPER COLLEEN SUZANNE CERKAN WELCH GLEN AUSTIN STEWART W. MARK EDWARDS JOSEPH GEORGE BALADI

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS: RANDI PERESICH MUELLER JOSEPH GEORGE BALADI JENNIFER JONES SKIPPER SILAS W. McCHAREN JOHN D. COSMICH LAKEYSHA GREER ISAAC MARK JOHNSON GOLDBERG RONALD G. PERESICH W. MARK EDWARDS JOHANNA MALBROUGH McMULLAN JENNIFER MORAN YOUNG J. COLLINS WOHNER, JR. WALTER T. JOHNSON COREY DONALD HINSHAW M. CHRISTINE CROCKETT WHITE SANDRA DENISE BUCHANAN THOMAS RAY JULIAN MICHAEL D. SIMMONS

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: DAVID NEIL McCARTY JOHN TIMOTHY GIVENS TIMOTHY W. PORTER PATRICK MALOUF ROBERT ALLEN SMITH, JR.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS: SILAS W. McCHAREN RONALD G. PERESICH J. COLLINS WOHNER JOHN D. COSMICH WALTER T. JOHNSON W. MARK EDWARDS MICHAEL D. SIMMONS JOHANNA MALBROUGH McMULLAN M. CHRISTINE CROCKETT WHITE RANDI PERESICH MUELLER LAKEYSHA GREER ISAAC JOSEPH GEORGE BALADI JENNIFER JONES SKIPPER SANDRA DENISE BUCHANAN COREY DONALD HINSHAW MARK JOHNSON GOLDBERG THOMAS RAY JULIAN JENNIFER MORAN YOUNG

          BEFORE RANDOLPH, C.J., MAXWELL AND BEAM, JJ.

          BEAM, JUSTICE

         ¶1. This interlocutory appeal comes before the Court following the Jefferson County Circuit Court's denial of Defendants' motions for transfer of venue and summary judgment in a silica case. On appeal, F&S Sand, Inc.; F&S Sand Abrasive Company, Inc.; Dependable Abrasives, Inc. (Dissolved); Mississippi Valley Silica Company, Inc.; Empire Abrasive Equipment Corporation; Dravo Basic Materials Company, Inc.; and American Optical Corporation (collectively, "Defendants") ask this Court to review whether venue was proper in Jefferson County and whether the claim was time-barred by the statute of limitations. This Court reverses the Circuit Court's denial of summary judgment and renders judgment in favor of Defendants. The venue issue is moot because the claim is time-barred.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. On September 26, 2016, plaintiff Ted Stringfellow filed his second silica complaint in Jefferson County after obtaining dismissal of his first silica case in Georgia in 2015. Stringfellow alleged that his complicated silicosis and silica-related conditions had been caused by exposure to respirable crystalline silica during his work as a sandblaster throughout Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. On November 10, 2016, Stringfellow noticed his own deposition and on May 15, 2017, Defendants filed their motions for summary judgment and transfer of venue.

         ¶3. In their motion for summary judgment, Defendants provided multiple medical exhibits evidencing Stringfellow's knowledge of the injury dating as far back as November 2007, although Stringfellow contended that he had no knowledge of the injury until he was diagnosed with silicosis in October 2014. In November 2007, Stringfellow presented to the hospital with a cough, and medical records evince that doctors discussed his work history as a construction worker. In May 2008, Stringfellow again presented to the hospital complaining of a cough. After two chest x-rays, he was discharged with a diagnosis of bronchitis, painful respiration, other lung disease, diabetes, liver disorder, cough, and shortness of breath. Stringfellow signed discharge papers recommending that he follow up with a pulmonologist, a recommendation Stringfellow acknowledges he disregarded. Moreover, Stringfellow submitted his medical records, which contained findings consistent with "pneumoconiosis (such as silicosis . . .)" to the Social Security Administration for disability. Although the record reflects discrepancies in the timing of the application, either 2008 or 2011, Stringfellow discovered his injury well before the time he filed his complaint.

         ¶4. At the motion hearing on June 19, 2017, the trial judge stated that, while Stringfellow's failure to follow up was troubling because plaintiffs have a responsibility to investigate an injury, he felt ruling on the motion for summary judgment would have been premature. Thereafter, Defendants petitioned this Court for interlocutory appeal, arguing that the trial court's denial of their motions for summary judgment and transfer of venue was erroneous. The Defeneant's petition was granted. M.R.A.P. 5.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         I. Standard of Review

         ¶5. When considering issues of law, such as statutes of limitation, this Court employs a de novo review. Andrus v. Ellis, 887 So.2d 175, 179 (Miss. 2004). When reviewing a trial court's grant or denial of a motion to dismiss or a motion for summary judgment, this Court likewise applies a de novo standard of review. Whitaker v. Limeco Corp., ...


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