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July 4, 2015

Yalobusha County Crash Kills One And Injures Others

 

Two vehicles were traveling South on I-55 when the following vehicle rear-ended the front vehicle causing the accident resulting in one death, A.W.Jones, who died at the scene of the accident. Five other people were injured in the accident some with critical injuries.

The injured parties can make a claim against the at fault driver for causing the wreck and claim damages for loss of income, pain and suffering, medical bills and permanent injuries as a result of the crash. The family of the deceased can make a claim for the wrongful death of their loved one.

If you know of someone who has been injured or killed in an accident , call Paul Snow now to discuss your legal rights, 601-969-1977. There is no fee unless we collect for you. There is no charge to discuss your legal rights or ask any questions.american flag.jpg

June 30, 2015

Drunk Driver Causes Two Deaths In Jackson, Mississippi

 

A drunk driver going South on I-55 near the Woodrow Wilson exit rear-ended a Jeep causing the driver to loose control and flip over a bridge killing both passengers. The drunk driver, Yolanda McNeely, left the scene of the accident but was caught by JPD and arrested after she crashed her white convertible at the next exit. The victims are Robert Sims and Randall Sims.

The families of the victims may have a claim against the drunk driver and the business who over served her alcohol. This is called a dramshop case which allows a lawsuit against the establishment that sold alcohol to an adult who was visibly intoxicated at the time.75579_drunk_driving.jpg

Our lawfirm has handled numerous cases like this one to successful conclusion for the families. If you know of someone who was injured or killed by a drunk driver, call Paul Snow, now to discuss your legal rights at 601-969-1977. It doesn't cost any money to discuss your case. There is no attorney fee unless we recover money for you.paul snow.jpg

May 27, 2015

Tractor Trailer Truck Rear-Ends Car Resulting In Two Deaths

 

An 18 wheeler truck driven by Lesia Alexander rear-ended a car driven by Elizabeth Johnson causing her death and the death of her 4 yr. old daughter, Kinsey. The deadly crash happened on I-10 in the westbound lanes of traffic near Ocean Springs, MS.18 wheeler.jpg

The Johnson family can make a claim against the owner and driver of the 18 wheeler company for negligence for causing the accident. Sometimes these drivers are forced to work more than the legal hours allowed by the federal regulations which contribute to accidents when the drivers become sleepy and fatigued. It's as dangerous as texting while driving.

If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident with an 18 wheeler and have some questions, call the Mississippi Accident Lawyer, Paul Snow, 601-969-1977, to discuss your legal rights free of charge. We only charge a fee if we collect money for you and your family. Check out our website here to view our results.

May 21, 2015

18 Wheeler Accident Results In Two Deaths In Jackson County, Mississippi

 

An accident involving an 18 wheeler and a car resulted in the death of the driver and passenger in the car. Ashton Johnson and her daughter Kinsey were killed in the wreck. The accident was caused by the driver of the 18 wheeler rear-ending the Nissan Altima on I-10 at 7:30 in the morning.18 wheeler stop.jpg

The family of Ms. Johnson has a case against the owner and driver of the 18 wheeler company for negligently causing the accident resulting in their deaths. The damages may include loss of love and companionship, loss of income, pain and suffering, medical and funeral expenses and all other damages allowed by Mississippi law for the wrongful death.

If you know of a loved one who has been injured or killed by an 18 wheeler, call Paul Snow now to discuss your legal rights. There is no charge to discuss your case or ask any questions, so call 601-969-1977 now.paul snow.jpg

March 23, 2015

Multiple Crash Results In Death Of FedEx Driver Near Meridian, MS

 


There were two crashes that ended up in the death of an FedEx driver on saturday, March 21st, 2015 near Meridian, MS. A toyota car rear-ended an 18 wheeler on I-20 in Toomsuba,MS about 4 a.m. disabling the car on the interstate. The FedEx truck hit the stalled car and crashed through the railing of a bridge and then fell 35 ' landing upside down near the railroad tracks.

The family of the the FedEx driver may have a claim against the following: 1) 18 wheeler company if that vehicle were disabled on the interstate highway without any warning reflectors or for other reasons which contributed to the first collision; 2) the driver of the car for rear-ending the 18 wheeler and contributing to the second accident; 3) the insurance company who insured the FedEx truck if there were not enough insurance on the other two vehilces; 4) workers comp. from the employer, FedEx.18 wheeler.jpg

If you know of someone who has been injured or killed in an accident, call Paul Snow to discuss your legal rights FREE of charge, 601-969-1977 or contact us online by clicking here. We do not charge you any fees unless we collect for you.paul snow.jpg

December 15, 2014

Hancock County, Mississippi 18 Wheeler Crash Kills Four

 

A tractor-trailer slammed into eleven cars which were stopped on I-10 near the Louisiana state line killing four people and injuring a number of others. The accident started when the trailer attached to a pick-up truck overturned causing computers to be thrown all over the interstate. An 18 wheeler crashed into the cars and all the vehicles. Four 18 wheelers and six cars were involved. Some were so damaged that you could not determine the make or model of the vehicle.18 wheeler1.jpg
Killed in the accident were: Randall Wager, Ariana Wager, from Lucedale, MS and Brandon Estes of Slidell and Ryan Deforest of Lacombe.

The families of those killed in the accident have claims for wrongful death under MS law. These claims include: loss of society and companionship, loss of earnings, pain and suffering, medical and funeral bills, etc. If you know of someone who has a family member who was killed in an accident, you can call Paul Snow 601-969-1977, a MS accident injury lawyer who handles these type of cases. Call now for a free consultation or contact us online here. We represent people who have been involved in accidents for years in Hinds, Madison, Rankin, Copiah, Warren, and Jackson counties AND also in Jackson, Biloxi, Brandon, Brookhaven, Canton, Clarksdale, Clinton, Columbus, Flowood, Greenwood, Greenville, Gulfport, Hazelhurst, Hattiesburg, Laurel, Madison, McComb,
Meridian, Natchez, Olive Branch, Oxford, Pascagoula, Pearl, Ridgeland, Southaven, Starkville, Tupelo and Vicksburg. We also represent clients from Louisiana.

February 11, 2014

Legal Malpractice-Divorce Case

 

LEGAL MALPRACTICE - DIVORCE CASE


Legal malpractice can occur in many different ways. It can occur as a result of a missed deadline for filing your lawsuit, failing to properly investigate your case, a botched trial, failure to meet trial deadlines, settling your case for an amount less than what your case is worth, and numerous other scenarios. Not all errors are necessarily malpractice. There are certain risks that arise in the practice of the law. The fact that there was a poor outcome of your case does not necessarily mean that the lawyer can be held liable.american flag.jpg


To be held liable, the lawyer's actions must have fallen below the "standard of care." Not only must the lawyer have caused you damages, but your damages must result from the lawyer not following the proper standard of care.


Legal malpractice claims must be filed within a certain time period. If the claims are not filed within these time limits, then the client and/or his/her family will forever lose their right to bring a claim against the lawyer. The Law Office of Paul Snow has experience in handling legal malpractice claims and works with the finest legal experts to insure that the outcome of these claims are successful.


The last legal malpractice case that I handled involved a wife who was represented by her lawyer in a divorce case. The lawyer negligently prepared her property settlement agreement. After her ex-husband retired from the National Guard (federal benefits) and Mississippi Highway Patrol (state benefits), the ex-wife was receiving approximately $3,000 per month. This $3,000 per month was supposed to be paid according to the parties' intent after the death of the ex-husband. When the ex-husband died, the ex-wife's benefits were cut off and paid to the present wife of the deceased ex-husband. At that time, the ex-wife realized that her lawyer messed up her property settlement agreement. The property settlement agreement was prepared in approximately November of 2003. The ex-wife's benefits were cut off in 2010, approximately seven years later, immediately after her ex-husband passed away. The lawyer who messed up the property settlement agreement filed suit to try to recover the benefits for the ex-wife, but was unsuccessful for numerous reasons, one of which was the ex-husband was deceased and there was no provision in the property settlement agreement to guarantee her payments after his death.


Thereafter, the ex-wife hired my law firm in 2013 (ten years after the divorce) to make a claim for legal malpractice against her divorce lawyer for negligently handling her divorce matter and property settlement agreement. The amount of the ex-wife's claim for the benefits alone totaled over $860,000 ($3,000 per month x 12 months =$36,000/year for 24 future years). The ex-wife also claimed damages for mental anguish, attorney fees, and punitive damages. After totally working up the case, including hiring expert witnesses, we were able to settle the claim against the divorce lawyer's insurance company for the policy limits in existence at the time.


If you or a loved one believes they were damaged as a result of legal negligence of a lawyer, contact Paul Snow online or call 601-969-1977 to discuss your legal rights. There is no fee to discuss your case with Paul Snow. We represent clients in Hinds County, Madison County, Rankin County, Copiah County, Warren County, or Jackson, Biloxi, Brandon, Brookhaven, Canton, Clarksdale, Clinton, Columbus, Flowood, Greenwood, Greenville, Gulfport, Hazelhurst, Hattiesburg, Laurel, Madison, McComb, Meridian, Natchez, Olive Branch, Oxford, Pascagoula, Pearl, Ridgeland, Southhaven, Starkville, Tupelo and Vicksburg.paul snow.jpg


Please be advised that there are time limits within which to sue your lawyer, so please call now to discuss your case so the time does not run out on you.

November 7, 2013

CROSS EXAMINATION OF ECONOMIST DR. GERALD LEE

 

Sometimes expert witnesses make the most unlikely statements: here is a quote from dr. gerald lee at a hearing in one of my cases: "people who have more money will be somewhat happier than people who have less money." i love it. everytime the defense attorney designates dr lee, i pull out this old transcript and have lots of fun with it. so i guess dr lee, that poor people cant be happy?

Email my secretary if you want a copy of the entire transcript. legalasst2paulsnow@gmail.com

September 18, 2013

Drunk Driver Kills Starkville Student

 

Sawyer Steede of Lucedale, MS was arrested and charge with driving under the influence of alcohol as a result of an accident that happened in McDonald's parking lot. The accident happened on Highway 12 in Starkville, MS. Starkville police department and the detective squad are investigating the tragic incident. Apparently, Kaleb Barker and Halli Reasons were riding in the bed of the pickup when the accident happened. Halli was treated and released,but Kaleb was killed as a result of the accident.75579_drunk_driving.jpg

WHO CAN MAKE A CLAIM AGAINST WHOM AND WHY?
The family of Mr. Barker can make a claim against the driver and his insurance company for driving drunk and allowing them to ride in the bed of the truck in the first place. More importantly, since the driver was only 18 years old, a claim can be made against the business that sold the alcoholic beverages to the minor. This is called liquor liability. The family can make a claim for loss of society and companionship, love and affection lost, medical and funeral bills and lost income that Kaleb would have earned during his lifetime.

If you know of someone who was killed by a minor who had been drinking and have some questions, please call Paul Snow, a board certified trial attorney, who will answer any of your questions FREE of charge. Call 601-969-1977 now. We have handled a number of alcohol related accidents over the years and know how to get results. Or, you may want to visit our website by clicking here.

July 31, 2013

Patrolman Killed In Motorcycle Accident

 

A MS highway patrolman was killed in an accident when he was struck by the driver of a car who turned in front of the patrolman causing the accident in Senatobia, MS. Eric Lentz was riding his Harley motorcycle when the fatal crash happened.

The family of Mr. Lentz has a cause of action for wrongful death against the driver of the at fault vehicle. Damages may include loss of love,society and companionship of the family, lost earnings, funeral expense,etc.

If you know of someone who has been injured or killed while driving a motorcycle, call Paul Snow to discuss your legal rights. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone who has questions about any kind of accident case. We do not charge any attorney fees unless we recover for you. Call the MS ACCIDENT LAWYER today at 601-969-1977 or contact us online with your question.

June 13, 2013

CHEMICAL EXPLOSION IN GEISMAR, LOUISIANA

 

An explosion happened at chemical plant in Geismar, LA. this morning at the Williams Olefins facility. At least 30 people were taken to the local hospital. Some are believed to be dead from the explosion. It looked like a fireball in the air according to some witnesses. Several roads were closed off as a precautionary measure. The plant produces about 1.3 billion pounds of ethylene and 90 million pounds of polymer grade propylene.s-LOUISIANA-CHEMICAL-PLANT-EXPLOSION-large.jpg

Im sure the Chemical Safety Board will investigate this accident to determine its cause.
These chemicals are highly explosive and any ignition source from any where near can cause an explosion like this one.

If you know of someone who was injured or killed in this needless accident, call PAUL SNOW now to ask any questions that you may have, 601-969-1977 or contact us online by clicking here.

There may be more than one company who may be responsible for causing and/or contributing to this accident.

We have been handling cases like this one for over 38 years and have experience in obtaining multi-million dollar settlements.

Call now to protect your legal rights. There is no fee unless we recover for you. The consultation is FREE and confidential.

April 16, 2013

18 WHEELER BRAKES CATCH ON FIRE CAUSING TWO ACCIDENTS

 

An 18 wheeler stopped on I-59 because his brakes caught on fire which caused two other 18 wheelers to collide near Purvis and Lumberton MS. The accident happened near midnight which requires that the disabled 18 wheeler place flares and reflectors near his vehicle to warn others who are lawfully using the interstate. Brakes do not usually catch on fire all of a sudden. There are usually warning signs that there is a problem way before the bearing gets so hot to actually catch on fire.

The injured other truck drivers have a claim against the first 18 wheeler company for being illegally stopped in the interstate without the required warnings.

I handled a case exactly like this many moons ago. The truck driver pulled onto the shoulder of the road and then tried to put out the fire by throwing dirt on his tire and bearings. My client who was also driving an 18 wheeler rear-ended the disabled 18 wheeler which was partially in the highway. The jury voted for our client and awarded substantial damages even though we were the one who did the rear-ending.

If you know of someone who was injured or killed as a result of someone who was negligent by leaving any part of their vehicle on the highway, give me a call to discuss your claim FREE of charge. We do not charge any attorney fees unless we recover money for you. Call now at 601-969-1977 or contact online by clicking here.

March 21, 2013

HOW TO COLLECT PUNITIVE DAMAGES IN AN 18 WHEELER CASE

 

If a set of facts are enough to justify a jury in a criminal case (with proof required "beyond a reasonable doubt") to convict someone for culpable manslaughter, then those same set of facts are enough to justify a jury in a civil case (with a lesser burden of proof) to consider the issue of gross negligence. Gross negligence requires less proof than culpable negligence and reckless driving. Turner. 735 So.2d 226 (Miss. 1999).
Section 97-3-47 of Miss. Code of 1972 states as follows:

"Every other killing of a human being, by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, and without authority of law, not provided for in this title, shall be manslaughter."
Culpable negligence means negligence of a higher degree than gross negligence in a civil case. If a defendant is guilty of culpable negligence in a criminal case, then that defendant will also be guilty of gross negligence in the civil courts. Culpable negligence is "the conscious or reckless disregard of the probabilities of fatal consequences to others as a result of the willful creation of an unreasonable risk." Evans v. State, 562 So.2d 91 (Miss. 1990). Culpable negligence is also defined as "negligence of a degree that is so gross as to be tantamount to a wanton disregard, or utter indifference to, the safety of human life." Clayton v. State. 652 So.2d 720 (Miss. 1995).
Moore v. State. 117 So.2d469 (Miss. 1960) (defendant's conviction for culpable negligence was affirmed for going 55 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone). In Moore, the victim was crossing the street. The court held that the defendant could have seen the deceased and should have seen the deceased in time to apply his brakes; that he skidded 140 feet, hit a telephone pole and lost control of his vehicle; that the physical facts and the greater weight of the evidence contradicted the defendant's testimony. The Supreme Court defined "culpable negligence" as follows: "Negligence of a higher degree than that which in civil cases is held to be gross negligence." In other words, in order to sustain the jury deciding the issue of punitive damages as a result of gross negligence in a civil case, all one needs to do is prove more than simple negligence but less than culpable negligence.
Shows v. State, 168 So. 862 (Miss. 1936) (defendant convicted of culpable negligence for sideswiping another truck who was going over the speed limit and crossed over the center line -reversed because of improper jury instruction). The defendant was driving a big truck and after the impact he concluded that no damage had been done and proceeded on to his destination in Hattiesburg where he was arrested.
Goldman v. State, 406 So.2d 816 (Miss. 1981) (conviction for culpable negligence affirmed for defendant who was going 60 miles per hour, crossed over the double yellow line in a no passing zone, and hit somebody head-on coming from the opposite direction).
Section 63-3-1201 of Miss. Code of 1972 states as follows:

"Any person who drives any vehicle in such a manner as to indicate either a willful or a wanton disregard for the safety or persons or property is guilty of reckless driving. Reckless driving shall be considered a greater offense than careless driving."

In the case of Turner v. City of Ruleville. 735 So.2d 226 (Miss. 1999), the
Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the dismissal of a complaint against the city for the actions of its police officer in allowing a drunk driver to continue driving after being stopped after the officer noticed that the defendant was driving in an erratic fashion and failed to have his headlights on. In reversing the case and allowing the jury to decide whether or not the city was liable for punitive damages, the Supreme Court held as follows citing Barnes v. State. 162 So.2d 865, 866 (Miss.
1964):The court held that for the purpose of the reckless driving statute, 'reckless means 'the commission of conscious acts or omissions which a driver knows or should know create an unreasonable risk of injury or damage...'." The Court also stated: "For conduct to be 'reckless' it must be such as to evince disregard of, or indifference to, consequences, or the circumstances involving danger to life or safety to others, although no harm was intended'." The Court defined "reckless disregard of rights of others" as follows: "...as used in automobile law, means the voluntary doing by motorists of an improper or wrongful act, or with knowledge of existing conditions, a voluntary refraining from doing a proper or prudent act when such act or failure to act evinces an entire abandonment of any care, and heedless indifference to results which may follow and the reckless taking of a chance of an accident happening without intent that any occur." Id. at 229.
The Mississippi Supreme Court held as follows, citing Dame v. Estes, 101 So.2d 644,645 (Miss. 1958), which defined gross negligence as: "Gross negligence is that course of conduct which disclosed a reckless indifference to consequences without the exertion of any substantial effort to avoid them."
The defendants argued that intent was required in order to make the city liable. The Court held: "While we agree that reckless disregard would encompass gross negligence, we hold that reckless disregard is a higher standard than gross negligence." Id. at 229-30. In refusing to require that the plaintiff prove that the defendant intended to do harm, the Supreme Court quoted Evans v. Trader. 614 So.2d 955, 958 (Miss. 1993), which held that in order to defeat an immunity defense under the common law, the plaintiff would not have to show that the officer entertained a specific intent. It would suffice to show that the officer acted with wanton and reckless disregard for the plaintiffs safety.
The Mississippi Supreme Court has held that "punitive damages are ordinarily recoverable where the negligence is so gross as to indicate reckless or wanton disregard for the safety of others." City of Jackson v. Perry,764 So 2d 373 (MS 2000) (57 mph in 35 mph zone knocking vehicle 75 feet; punitive damages affirmed), Also see Maye v. Pearl River County. 758 So.2d 391, 395 (MS 1999) (backing sheriffs car out of parking space up an incline; punitive damages affirmed).

Punitive damages may be recovered, not only for willful and intentional wrong, but for such gross and reckless negligence as is equivalent to such wrong, since an act done in the spirit of wantonness and recklessness is often times just as harmful as if prompted by malice. Bush v. Watkins. 80 So.2d 19 (Miss. 1955). The definition of gross negligence is found in Teche Lines. Inc. v. Pope, 166 So. 539 (Miss. 1936), which held that there is no precise definition of gross negligence, but it might be defined as that course of conduct which, under the particular circumstances, disclosed a reckless indifference to consequences without the exertion of any substantial effort to avoid them. Also see Reid v. Halpin, 178 So. 88 (Miss. 1938); Planters Wholesale Grocery v. Kincaid. 50 So.2d 578 (Miss. 195n: Belk v. Rosemond. 57 So.2d461 (Miss. 1952); and Dame v. Estes, 101 So.2d644 (Miss. 1958).
Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, the master is liable for the acts of his servants which are done in the course of their employment and in the furtherance of the master's business; punitive damages may be awarded against a master for the negligent acts of his servant. Sandifer Oil Co. v. Dew, 71 So.2d 752 (Miss. 1954). Employer held liable for willful and wanton acts resulting in injury to boy whom driver of truck had invited to ride thereon. Trico Coffee Co. v. Clemens. 151 So. 175 (Miss. 1933).
The most important case on the issue is U.S. Industries. Inc. v. McClure Furniture Co.. 371 So.2d 391 (Miss. 1979). In U.S. Industries, the Mississippi Supreme Court held as follows: "We have to keep in mind that the basic theory is whether or not there was sufficient evidence for the jury to award punitive damages even though the evidence might be conflicting. It is not the court's prerogative to make the award. It is only for the court to decide whether or not the party requesting a punitive damage instruction has presented sufficient evidence for the jury's consideration. Yazoo & Mississippi Valley R.R. Co. v. Hardie. 55 So.42 (Miss. 1911); Snowden v. Osborne. 269 So.2d 858 (Miss. 1972)." Id. at 393.
In affirming the award of punitive damages, the Mississippi Supreme Court held as follows:"The evidence was uncontradicted that Mississippi Highway 550 is a well-traveled road, that the tractor-trailer completely blocked both lanes of traffic and that this occurred prior to sunrise which was at 6:50 on the morning of the accident, and that visibility was at best limited. Prudence would have required Jones to have moved his rig on to the shoulder of the road either to await full daylight or to place the necessary flares, or to have continued in his own lane until he found an appropriate intersection for completing the maneuver. Instead, Jones risked the possibility of collision against the possibility of completing the dangerous turn within the few moments when the road appeared to be clear of traffic. He exercised bad judgment under the circumstances." (emphasis added)Id. at 393-94.
The U.S. Industries court also cited the Fifth Circuit Mississippi case of Anderson v. Eagle Motor Lines, Inc., 423 F.2d 81 (5th Cir. 1970) for allowing the punitive damage instruction to go to the jury. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the award of punitive damages and held that the blocking of the highway was gross negligence entitling the plaintiff to a punitive damage instruction.
Also see Commodore Corp. v. Bailey. 393 So.2d 467 (Miss. 1981), whereby the Mississippi Supreme Court in affirming the punitive damage instruction held as follows:
"If the evidence presented by the party requesting a punitive damage instruction is such that the jury could find that the wrongful acts complained of resulted from such gross disregard of the rights of the complaining party as amounts to wilfulness on the part of the wrongdoer, or that the opposite party was guilty of such negligence as to amount to a reckless disregard of the complaining party's rights, then the court is fully authorized to submit the issue of punitive damages for the jury's deliberation. Fowler Butane Gas Co. v. Varner, 141 So.2d 226 (Miss. 1962)."Id. at 471.

See Paracelsus Healthcare Corp. v. Willard, 754 So.2d 437 (Miss. 1999), whereby the Supreme Court previously remanded two cases for consideration of punitive damages and then affirmed the jury awards of 1.5 million dollars to each plaintiff for punitive damages and held that the evidence supported the finding that the jury could find the actions to be in gross disregard for the rights of the plaintiffs.
Punitive damages are defined as damages given in enhancement of ordinary damages on account of the wanton, reckless, malicious, or oppressive character of the acts complained of. Interstate Oil Pipeline Co. v. Valentine. 110 So.2d 369 (Miss. 1959).
In Sandifer Oil Co. v. Dew. 71 So.2d 752,758 (Miss. 1954), the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the lower court decision allowing the jury to consider punitive damages for a truck driver who left his truck pumping gasoline into a storage tank and went across the street to a restaurant and drank a cup of coffee. When someone alerted the truck driver that the gas was overflowing, the truck driver turned off the switch and stopped the motor and the pump. A few minutes later there was an explosion. In affirming the punitive damages award, the Supreme Court held that: "It was difficult to conceive of a case of more reckless and wanton disregard of the consequences of his act. His negligence was gross, it was reckless, and it was wanton to such extent as to be tantamount to wilfulness...those who handle such dangerous agencies should be made to know the standard of care which is required of them. It is regrettable that such a tragic occurrence is necessary to again bring such knowledge to those engaged in such business." Id. at 758-759. "It is interesting to note and we concur in opinion that the ($90,000) ninety thousand dollar verdict in 1954 was the highest verdict in the country for the death of a child at that time."
Dame v. Estes. 101 So.2d 644 (Miss. 1958) (question of whether plaintiff was entitled to recover punitive damages should have been submitted to the jury when the defendant failed to stop at a stop sign.) In Dame, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court's decision in refusing to allow the jury to consider punitive damages and held that the facts justified a punitive damages instruction and reversed for a new trial on damages only. The facts of the case were that the witnesses estimated the speed of the defendant to be 50 miles per hour. The defendant said she was going 30-35 miles per hour. The speed limit was 30 miles per hour. The Mississippi Supreme Court held that the defendant either ignored or failed to see the stop sign which was staring her in the face and made no effort to stop at the intersection or to even check the speed of the vehicle she was behind. It was in broad open daylight, there was nothing to obstruct her vision and she wholly failed to see the plaintiff s pickup truck until it was directly in front of her. We think under this case that the question of whether plaintiff was entitled to recover punitive damages should have been submitted to the jury. The Court cited Hadad v. Lockeby. 169 So. 691 (Miss. 1936) for the definition of punitive damages as follows: "Punitive damages may be recovered not only for a willful and intentional wrong, but for such gross and reckless neglect as is equivalent to such a wrong, since an act done in the spirit of wantonness and recklessness is oftentimes just as harmful as if prompted by malice." The Court also cited Teche Lines. Inc. v. Pope. 166 So. 539 (Miss. 1936), for the definition of gross negligence: "Gross negligence is that course of conduct which, under the particular circumstances, discloses a reckless indifference to consequences without the exertion of any substantial effort to avoid them." The Court then cited Wilson v. State. 161 So. 744 (Miss. 1930), wherein the Supreme Court affirmed a manslaughter conviction, for culpable negligence, upon facts in which the negligence is no more culpable than in the case now before us. Id at 645.
Also see, Teche Lines. Inc. v. Pope. 166 So. 539 (Miss. 1936) (bus driver who failed to attempt to stop his bus until 10 feet from railroad crossing, held grossly negligent).The facts in this case are that the bus driver was driving his bus which was 30 feet long, weighed 10 tons, and had a 39 passenger seating capacity; the bus driver was traveling 25 miles per hour and approached the railroad crossing. The bus driver failed to stop until he was about 10 feet from the crossing, resulting in a disastrous collision and serious and permanent injuries to plaintiff who was a passenger on the bus.
Hadad v. Lockeby, 169 So. 691 (Miss. 1936) (award of punitive damages is affirmed for defendant driving 35-40 miles per hour in a 20 miles per hour speed zone without sounding his horn or giving any warning of his approach; he saw some pedestrians and struck them anyway). The defendant had three eyewitnesses who testified that the defendant sounded his horn and slowed his speed. The Mississippi Supreme Court held that the defendant was driving his car at an excessive rate of speed, that he saw the plaintiff crossing the road and failed to slow his speed or sound his horn or give any warning until the accident. These facts if true constitute gross negligence on the part of the defendant. It is interesting to note the words of wisdom offered by the Hadad Supreme Court: "These machines upon the highways are extremely dangerous to others using the highways. The lives and limbs of persons should be safeguarded, and something should be done to reduce accidents to a minimum." Id. at 694.
Southland Broadcasting Co. v. Tracy, 50 So.2d 572 (Miss. 1951) (jury authorized in finding that driver's negligence was so wanton and reckless as to justify the infliction of punitive damages for speeding, failing to negotiate a turn, leaving the highway, and traveling approximately 720 feet after leaving the highway.)
Collins v. Black. 380 So.2d 241 (Miss. 1980) (Supreme Court reinstated jury verdict for punitive damages against defendant who was driving at an unreasonable rate of speed, on the wrong side of the road, and failed to stop after the collision.) The conduct of a driver of a vehicle in failing to stop after the accident when taken in connection with all the circumstances may authorize a finding of a lack of care, conscious indifference to the consequences, and aggravating circumstances authorizing the recovery of punitive damages.
So if you have a question about your 18 wheeler or other accident case which may justify punitive damages, give me a call or email me. 601-969-1977 paulsnowiii@msn.com paul snow.jpg


March 5, 2013

JURY INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE PLAINTIFF'S LAWYER

 

I have just updated my home page to include jury instructions for all aspects of a plaintiff's trial practice. If you have any interest in using any of these instructions, fell free to download and/or copy. They are located under "referring attorney resources". If it doesn't open,you may need to try a different browser.

Call me if you have any questions about your particular case.paul snow.jpg

October 23, 2012

The Lie Of Tort Reform

 


nayton1.jpg



When Naython Watts turns six on Nov. 1, he won't realize that it's his birthday. He suffered disabling brain injuries because of botched medical care by not one -- but two doctors -- just before he was born. As a result his mother, who is a widow, will have to care for him during his 50-year life expectancy.

A little blond child with a beatific smile, Naython makes sounds but can't talk. The child suffers from seizures and has difficulty feeding himself. He can't walk on his own and has the mental capacity of a two-year-old. Naython will always need around the clock care. A home video on YouTube shows how badly the doctors ruined his life.

His mother, Deborah, successfully sued the Cox Medical Center Centers in Springfield, Mo., for permanently inuring her son. She won a $1.45 million jury award for non-economic damages plus a $3.37 million award to cover future medical damages. (See Watts v. Cox Medical Centers, 2012 Mo. LEXIS 155.)


Then a tort "reform" law made his situation exceptionally cruel. The state law automatically slashed the family's non-economic damages to only $350,000. It also split the medical damages award in two, making half of it payable in annual installments of 50 years with an interest rate of 0.26 percent.

Last summer the Missouri Supreme Court declared the hideous statute unconstitutional, ruling that it violated the right to a trial by jury. "Once the right to a trial by jury attaches, as it does in this case, the plaintiff has the full benefit of that right free from the reach of hostile legislation," the high court declared. "Statutory damage caps were not permissible in 1820 [when the state constitution was adopted] and... remain impermissible today."

The Missouri court ruled the tort reform law was unconstitutional jury tampering. The historic role of juries in the United States is to find facts and determine damages. In fact, supreme courts in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, New Hampshire, Oregon, Texas and Washington have also declared their state damage caps unconstitutional.

The Lie of Tort Reform

Little Naython will get the benefit of the jury's award for his medical care. But in 33 other states the victims of bad doctors will not. Tort reform laws in those states cap non-economic damages. In those states, jury awards for non-economic damages (pain and suffering) are arbitrarily slashed as low as $250,000, regardless of what the facts are.

"This is a travesty and it's occurring around the country," said the Watts' family lawyer Roger Johnson of Johnson, Vorhees & Martucci in Joplin, Mo. "In cases like Naython Watts, insurance companies are getting off without having to pay a thing. If there is no accountability in the medical profession, these kinds of medical mistakes will happen over and over again."


Tort reform is a lie. It doesn't benefit the general public and results mainly in stripping Americans of their rights. The laws are pushed by well-funded, anti-consumer groups with friendly-sounding names like "ALEC" and the "U.S. Chamber of Commerce." Their goal is to boost insurance company profits, insulate incompetent doctors from liability and promote propaganda about a non-existent "lawsuit explosion." The result is that badly injured consumers pick up the high cost of medical mistakes in the name of cheaper malpractice insurance for doctors -- who make the mistakes.

Ironically, a study from Americans for Insurance Reform in 2009 found that under Missouri's damages cap, medical malpractice rates actually went up 1 percent, while in neighboring Iowa, which has no damage cap, malpractice premiums dropped 6 percent.

Tort reform does not achieve another goal of reducing healthcare costs. A groundbreaking study published in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies this year examined the effects of the tort reform law in Texas, one of only two states where detailed data on malpractice claims is publicly available. "We find no evidence that Texas's 2003 tort reforms reduced health-care spending or spending trends," the study says. It adds, "it is time for policymakers to abandon the hope that tort reform can be a major element in health-care cost control."

According to a 2012 report by the Missouri Foundation for Health, "In Missouri the only clear impact has been a drop in the number of claims and lawsuits made and a more profitable malpractice insurance industry, while other indicators remain largely as they were before reform,"

"Ultimately the burdens of the reforms likely fall disproportionately on the young, economically disadvantaged and those who suffer the most severe injuries," states the report.

We can only hope that the Missouri Supreme Court starts a nationwide trend, supported by these and other studies, to eradicate the disease of tort reform.

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