OF JUDGMENT: 11/06/2017
FROM WHICH APPEALED: LEAKE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE:
HON. CHRISTOPHER A. COLLINS
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: ANSELM J. McLAURIN
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES: D. COLLIER GRAHAM JR.
Mary Hawkins filed a medical-malpractice suit against Tommie
Jones and Jones's employer, Baptist Medical Center-Leake
Inc. (BMC-Leake) (collectively, the Appellees), for
Jones's failure to diagnose a tendon dysfunction and
stress fracture in Hawkins's left ankle. The Leake County
Circuit Court granted the Appellees' summary-judgment
motion after finding that the statute-of-limitations period
had expired on Hawkins's claim. Because we find no error,
we affirm the circuit court's grant of summary judgment
to the Appellees.
On February 25, 2014, Hawkins sought treatment at BMC-Leake
for multiple medical complaints, including pain and swelling
in her left ankle. Hawkins saw Jones, a certified family
nurse practitioner employed by BMC-Leake. Hawkins informed
Jones that she had twisted her ankle, and Jones recommended
that Hawkins have x-rays taken. Hawkins declined the x-rays
at that time. Hawkins then returned to BMC-Leake on March 13,
2014, and received treatment from Dr. William Perry. Dr.
Perry ordered x-rays of Hawkins's left ankle, and Dr.
Charles Pringle, an independently practicing radiologist
employed by the Radiological Group, interpreted the images.
In his written report, Dr. Pringle stated there was
"[n]o definite acute fracture or dislocation"
Hawkins returned to BMC-Leake on July 18, 2014, and again saw
Jones. After Hawkins reported that she had injured her left
ankle about five days earlier, Jones referred Hawkins to
radiology for x-rays on her lower leg. Drs. Gary Cirilli and
Dean Tanner, both independently practicing radiologists with
the Radiological Group, interpreted the x-rays. Dr.
Cirilli's written report noted soft-tissue swelling
around Hawkins's ankle but provided that "no
fracture [wa]s identified." Dr. Tanner's written
report also noted soft-tissue swelling but likewise stated
that "[n]o acute fracture or dislocation" was
Hawkins next saw Jones on July 24, 2014, when Jones once more
referred Hawkins to radiology for an MRI. Hawkins refused the
MRI at that time. Hawkins then saw Jones on August 26, 2014.
In addition to recommending a referral to an orthopedic
specialist, Jones once again recommended an MRI for
Hawkins's unresolved ankle condition. Hawkins refused
both of Jones's recommendations at that time. On
September 9, 2014, Hawkins consented to a referral to a
radiologist for an MRI. Dr. Catherine Sorrell, another
independently practicing radiologist with the Radiological
Group, interpreted the MRI images. Dr. Sorrell's written
report contained no mention of a fracture or dislocation but
noted the presence of "[e]xtensive edema, arthritis, and
erosive changes throughout the joints of the ankle and
Jones referred Hawkins to an orthopedic specialist at the
Mississippi Sports Medicine Clinic (MSMC). Hawkins saw Dr.
Jamey Burrow at MSMC on September 23, 2014. Dr. Burrow's
summary from the September 23, 2014 visit indicated that he
ordered additional x-rays on Hawkins's left ankle. Dr.
Burrow's medical summary stated that the x-rays showed
Hawkins had "a posterior tibial tendon dysfunction with
a fibular stress fracture, healing." Dr. Burrow's
medical summary also indicated that he had "talked to
the patient about the diagnosis and treatment plan." Dr.
Burrow's initial treatment plan involved placing
Hawkins's left ankle in a cast and brace. If the cast and
brace failed to control Hawkins's ankle injury, Dr.
Burrow told Hawkins she would benefit "long term"
from a surgical procedure called a tibiotalocalcaneal
arthrodesis. Hawkins stated that surgery was eventually
recommended either in November 2014 or on December 10, 2014,
that she underwent the procedure in January 2015.
Hawkins provided the Appellees with a notice of claim dated
October 14, 2016, and informed the Appellees of her intent to
pursue a medical-malpractice claim against them. On December
13, 2016, Hawkins filed her complaint against the Appellees.
The Appellees answered and asserted their affirmative
defenses. On August 17, 2017, the Appellees moved for summary
judgment on the ground that the statute-of-limitations period
had run on Hawkins's medical-malpractice claim. On
October 27, 2017, the circuit court entered an order finding
"that the statute of limitations began to run on
September 23, 2014[, ] when [Hawkins] became aware of her
injury . . . ." Concluding that the applicable
statute-of-limitations period had expired by the time Hawkins
provided the Appellees with pre-suit notice of her intention
to file her medical-malpractice claim, the circuit court
granted the Appellees summary judgment. Aggrieved, Hawkins