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Evans v. Shucker's Piano & Oyster Bar, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

April 9, 2019

DERRICK EVANS APPELLANT
v.
SHUCKER'S PIANO & OYSTER BAR, INC. AND RYAN COBB APPELLEES

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 12/29/2017

          RANKIN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. WILLIAM E. CHAPMAN III

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: CHRISTOPHER JACKSON WELDY

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: DONNA MARIE MEEHAN ANSELM J. McLAURIN

         EN BANC.

          J. WILSON, P.J.

         ¶1. Around 2:40 a.m. on January 1, 2012, Derrick Evans and Ryan Cobb got into a fight in the parking lot just outside of Shucker's Oyster and Piano Bar in Ridgeland. Cobb punched Evans in the face, breaking his nose. Evans sued Cobb and Shucker's in county court. The court granted summary judgment in favor of Cobb based on the one-year statute of limitations for assault and battery claims. The court also granted summary judgment in favor of Shucker's, holding that there was no genuine issue of material fact and that Shucker's was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Evans's premises liability claim. The circuit court affirmed both rulings. We also affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Around 6 p.m. on December 31, 2011, Derrick Evans and his friends Jennifer and Leah went to Shucker's to ring in the new year. Shortly before midnight, a woman stumbled into Leah, causing Leah to spill her drink. According to Evans, a "little shuffle" ensued, but in "a matter of seconds" security removed the woman from the premises without any further disturbance. As it turns out, the woman was with Ryan Cobb and a group of his friends. Cobb denied that security required the woman to leave the bar. He testified that he and his fiancée called her a cab, and she left voluntarily.

         ¶3. Around 2 a.m., it was closing time, [1] time to go out into the world. Shucker's turned the lights up over every boy and every girl. It was time for the few customers still at the bar to finish their whiskey or beer. They didn't have to go home, but they couldn't stay at Shucker's.

         ¶4. Evans knew who he wanted to take him home. Jennifer's husband, Fred, was going to pick up Evans, Jennifer, and Leah when he got off of work around 2 a.m. Fred would take them back to the places they were from. So Evans moved it to the exits and found his friends.

         ¶5. Evans and his friends walked out to the parking lot, near the entrance to Shucker's, to wait on Fred. Cobb was also outside waiting for his ride, along with his fiancée, his sister, and his brother-in-law. Both parties were still waiting for their rides at 2:40 a.m., about forty minutes after Shucker's had closed. According to Cobb, at some point while they were waiting, his fiancée and his sister apologized to Leah about the earlier incident with their friend, and Leah said it was "fine" and "no problem." Cobb testified, however, that after his sister and his fiancée walked back inside to use the restroom, Leah began calling them "whores, Jackson trash, this that and the other." This led to a heated argument between Leah and Cobb and his brother-in-law. According to Cobb, Evans interjected and told him and his brother-in-law to "shut their f*****g mouths."

         ¶6. Surveillance video of the parking lot captured what transpired next. Fred arrived to pick up Evans, Jennifer, and Leah. Fred's car stopped a few feet away from the group, but Evans says he did not know that Fred had arrived. Cobb walked over to Evans and kicked the back of Evans's chair. In response, Evans immediately stood up and threw the chair at Cobb, hitting both Cobb and his brother-in-law. In his deposition, Evans claimed that he just "randomly tossed the chair" and "wasn't intending to hit anybody." He said he threw the chair to "let[] them know to leave [him] alone."

         ¶7. Leah and Jennifer then attempted to pull Evans to Fred's waiting car, but Cobb and his brother-in-law followed them, and their argument continued. Cobb's brother-in-law grabbed Evans's hat off his head, and Leah attempted to strike Cobb. Suddenly, Cobb punched Evans once in the face, and Evans fell to the ground. The punch was thrown about twenty-four seconds after Cobb first kicked Evans's chair. About ten seconds later, three Shucker's security guards ran out of ...


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