DENNIS STEVEN RUSHING, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF DENNIS HOUSTON RUSHING, DECEASED APPELLANT
MOBILE FOREST PRODUCTS, INC., AN ALABAMA CORPORATION AND DASON ARRINGTON APPELLEES
OF JUDGMENT: 12/19/2017
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. KATHY KING JACKSON JUDGE.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: WAYNE DOWDY DUNBAR DOWDY WATT.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: J. STEPHEN KENNEDY SAMUEL DEUCALION
J. WILSON, P.J., TINDELL AND LAWRENCE, JJ.
This case involves the tragic death of Dennis Houston Rushing
(Dennis), who was a paramedic riding as a passenger in an
ambulance when it crashed into an eighteen wheeler.
Dennis's father, Steven Rushing (Steven), brought a
wrongful-death lawsuit against Charles Bexley (the driver of
the eighteen wheeler) and his employer, Henderson Timber
Felling Inc. (Henderson). Steven later added two other
defendants to the suit-Dason Arrington (the driver of the
eighteen wheeler following Bexley) and his employer, Mobile
Forest Products Inc. (Mobile Forest). Before trial, Steven
settled his claims against Bexley and Henderson. Following a
trial, the jury found that Arrington was not negligent.
Steven appeals, arguing that (1) the circuit court erred in
admitting the ambulance driver's blood-test results into
evidence; and (2) the circuit court erred in denying jury
instruction P-5. Finding the circuit court acted within its
discretion, we affirm.
On June 24, 2014, Bexley was driving an eighteen wheeler
northbound on Highway 63 in Greene County. Arrington was
driving another eighteen wheeler behind Bexley.Bexley planned to
make a left turn, so he used his CB radio to notify
Arrington. Bexley then put on his left blinker and slowed
down in anticipation of the turn. Arrington also began to
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Bexley or Arrington, William Smith
was driving an ambulance on Highway 63 and was quickly
approaching both eighteen wheelers in the northbound lane.
Smith and his passenger, Dennis, were both paramedics
traveling to an elderly woman's home. Smith was driving
over the speed limit (55 miles per hour) at a rate of 75
miles per hour. As Smith approached both eighteen wheelers,
he attempted to pass them by switching to the southbound
lane. However, Bexley had already begun making his left turn.
The ambulance struck Bexley's eighteen wheeler on its
front-left side near the fuel tank and caught fire on impact.
Both Smith and Dennis died from the fiery crash.
Arrington's eighteen wheeler was not involved in the
On August 11, 2014, Steven, Dennis's father and
administrator of his estate, brought a negligence suit
against Bexley and Henderson. Steven amended the complaint on
May 19, 2015, adding Arrington and Mobile Forest. Steven
claimed that Arrington was negligent for failing to come to a
stop on the right side of the road when the ambulance passed
Arrington in violation of Mississippi Code Annotated section
63-3-809(1) (Rev. 2013). He also claimed that Arrington
failed to comply with Mississippi Code Annotated section
63-3-619(2) (Rev. 2013), which requires a driver of a motor
truck to maintain at least a 300-feet distance behind another
motor truck. Before trial, Steven settled his claims against
Bexley and Henderson.
At trial, Arrington testified that Bexley radioed him when
they were near the Piave Baptist Church. He also testified
that he was about one car length behind Bexley at that time.
As Bexley started to slow down, Arrington distanced himself
even more-about the length of an eighteen wheeler. Arrington
testified that he was at least one hundred yards (300 feet)
from Bexley's eighteen wheeler before the accident
happened. Arrington never heard sirens and did not see the
Dr. John Stevenson, an employee at the Mississippi Forensics
Laboratory, was admitted as an expert in forensic toxicology
and the testing of blood samples and called as a defense
witness. He testified that he received Smith's and
Dennis's blood samples from the State Medical
Examiner's Office after the accident. Dr. Stevenson
testified that the blood sample from Smith, the ambulance
driver, tested positive for amphetamine and methamphetamine.
Ultimately, the jury found that Arrington was not negligent
and returned a ...