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Logan v. Ford Motor Company

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

September 17, 2019

WILLIAM LOGAN, INDIVIDUALLY, AND ON BEHALF OF THE WRONGFUL DEATH BENEFICIARIES OF CHARLIE PATSY LOGAN, DECEASED APPELLANT
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, LINCOLN MOTOR COMPANY, AND KIRK AUTO COMPANY APPELLEES

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 08/21/2017

          GRENADA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. HON. GEORGE M. MITCHELL JR. TRIAL JUDGE.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: EDWARD BLACKMON MARCUS AMIR WILLIAMS BRADFORD JEROME BLACKMON

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: D. STERLING KIDD BRADLEY WITHERSPOON SMITH GEORGE CLANTON GUNN IV

         EN BANC.

          GREENLEE, J.

         ¶1. This is an appeal from the Grenada County Circuit Court's exclusion of expert testimony and grant of summary judgment. Finding no error, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. Charlie Patsy Logan and her husband, William Logan, purchased a 2009 Lincoln Town Car from Kirk Auto Company (Kirk). Ford Motor Company (Ford) issued a recall notice on their model's steering sector, and the couple took their car to Kirk for inspection in November 2013. Kirk did not find visible signs of any issue with the car, but ordered replacement parts for the steering sector regardless. The replacement parts were never installed. After the inspection, William damaged the car during a minor accident in which he hit a concrete block and refrigerator in his carport. The couple took the car to a different Ford dealership for repairs.

         ¶3. One month later, 82-year-old Charlie Patsy drove down Mississippi Highway 35 through Carroll County. According to her car's power-train control module, her speed as she drove down this 55-mile-per-hour-limit two-lane road was over 80 miles per hour. The car veered off the road and wrecked. Charlie Patsy did not survive.

         ¶4. In September 2014, William sued Ford, Lincoln Motor, and Kirk in the Grenada County Circuit Court under the Mississippi Products Liability Act (MPLA).[1] Claims against Lincoln Motor were dismissed with prejudice in November 2014.

         ¶5. In September 2015, William tendered Derrick Rainey as "an expert witness in the field of Automotive engineering analysis and Technology" to support his assertion that Charlie Patsy's accident occurred because the Lincoln Town Car's steering column was defectively designed. The defendants deposed him several months later, then moved to exclude Rainey's opinions. The motions were withdrawn, but the defendants filed a renewed motion to exclude Rainey's opinions and moved for summary judgment in May 2017. The court granted both, finding that Rainey was not qualified and that there was no genuine issue of material fact.

         ¶6. William appeals to this Court, asserting that: (1) the circuit court erred when it determined that Rainey was not qualified as an expert; and (2) summary judgment was improper.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶7. "When reviewing a trial court's decision to allow or disallow evidence, including expert testimony, we apply an abuse of discretion standard." Delta Reg'l Med. Ctr. v. Taylor, 112 So.3d 11, 20 (¶22) (Miss. Ct. App. 2012). Unless we determine "that a trial court's decision to admit or exclude evidence was arbitrary and clearly erroneous, that decision will stand." Id. And "[a] trial court's grant of summary judgment is reviewed de novo." Wright v. R.M. Smith Invs. L.P., 210 So.3d 555, 557 (ΒΆ6) (Miss. Ct. App. 2016). "Summary judgment is ...


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