OF JUDGMENT: 02/12/2018
CLAIBORNE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. LAMAR
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: DAVID M. SESSUMS
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES: BENJAMIN LYLE ROBINSON
GREENLEE, P.J., WESTBROOKS AND McDONALD, JJ.
In 2014, John Calvin Howard brought a negligence suit against
Rolin Enterprises LLC; Linda Walker, in her individual
capacity and doing business as Rolin Enterprises LLC; Charlie
Norrell, in his individual capacity and doing business as
Celebrity 1 Security; and Triston Moore as a result of a
fight outside of the Claiborne County Convention Center.
Walker and Rolin filed a motion for summary judgment, which
the Claiborne County Circuit Court granted. Howard appealed
to this Court, but his appeal was dismissed for lack of
jurisdiction. Subsequently, the circuit court certified its
grant of Walker and Rolin's motion for summary judgment
pursuant to Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) making
the judgment final. Howard now appeals that order against
only Rolin and Walker. After review of the record, we affirm.
We refer to the facts from Howard's first appeal when
discussing the incident and the procedural history:
Walker, doing business as Rolin, owned the Convention Center,
which she rented to third parties for various events. Moore
rented the Convention Center from Walker for the
purpose of hosting a party following an Alcorn State football
game on September 14, 2013. Howard and a group of his
friends, including another young man named Michael Moseley,
arrived to the Convention Center around 11:30 p.m. on
September 14, 2013, as the party was well underway. Shortly
after arriving, Howard and Moseley were on the dance floor
when they were assaulted by other partygoers, one of whom was
later identified as Justin Bailey. Security, including
Norrell, broke up the fight and separated the two groups by
sending Bailey and his accomplices outside, while telling
Howard and Moseley to wait on-stage for a few minutes. After
about ten to fifteen minutes, Howard and Moseley decided to
leave the Convention Center. Norrell escorted them outside.
As they were crossing the parking lot, the same group from
before attacked Howard and Moseley a second time. Howard
maintains that Bailey stabbed him in the neck with a broken
beer bottle. According to Howard, Norrell did not take any
action to stop the fight, but merely watched it take place.
The fight was finally broken up by a third party, and Howard
was airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical
Center, where he was treated for lacerations to his neck,
shoulder, and back.
Howard filed a complaint against Rolin, alleging that it had
failed to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe
condition. Howard then sought, and was granted, leave of
court to file an amended complaint, joining Norrell,
individually and doing business as Celebrity 1 Security,
Moore, and Walker in her individual capacity. After obtaining
leave of court, Howard amended his complaint accordingly.
The record reflects that process was served on Norrell on
October 25, 2014, but does not show that Norrell ever filed
an answer. Both parties in their appellate briefs agree that
Norrell was served with process, but that Moore was not. The
docket indicates that Norrell continued to be noticed of
certain orders throughout discovery (including an order
setting the pretrial conference date and a later order
continuing the pretrial conference to another date), along
with Walker and Rolin's attorneys. However, Norrell never
filed any pleadings or responses of his own. Further, no
entry of default judgment was ever entered against him.
Howard and Walker proceeded with discovery. Howard, Walker,
and Moore provided depositions. Walker twice scheduled and
noticed depositions for Norrell, but Norrell failed to appear
both times. The only correspondence with Norrell included in
the record is an email from Walker's counsel to
Howard's, wherein Walker informed Howard on the night
before Norrell's second scheduled deposition was to take
place that it would be cancelled, as Norrell told Walker that
he was out of the state and would be unable to attend.
Shortly thereafter, Walker ...