The Mississippi Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of a group of companies that were all sued for helping to cause a man’s lung disease and, ultimately, his death. The original case involved Henry Morgan, Sr. along with some 141 other plaintiffs who filed a personal injury lawsuit against 88 separate defendants, claiming injuries related to silicosis. The case stated winding its way through the court system almost a decade ago, beginning in September of 2002.
Silicosis is caused by inhalation of crystalline silica dust and is usually accompanied by inflammation and scarring in the upper lobes of a person’s lungs. Morgan, Sr. died from the disease while the case was still pending in court and sadly did not even live long enough to see its conclusion.
The original case was dismissed in 2006 but a year later Morgan’s son, Morgan Jr., filed a wrongful death claim against 32 of the original defendants, claiming his father’s inhalation of silica contributed to his untimely death.
The defendants moved for summary judgment largely based on the running of the statute of limitations. The lower court denied the defendant’s motions but, after rising through the court system through multiple appeals, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the lower court and handed down a judgment squarely in favor of the business owners.
The state Supreme Court wrote that because the wrongful death claim was filed more than three years after Morgan Sr.’s death, the statute of limitations had already run which bars any such wrongful death or survival claims from moving forward.
The Supreme Court lectured the plaintiffs for not providing detailed enough information in their initial Complaint and for not timely filing their discovery responses. The delays made it difficult for the defendants to ascertain the identity of the lead plaintiff and impossible to begin to calculate whether the statute of limitations had run.
“No attempt was made to file a notice of death to amend the… [original] complaint to include Morgan Jr.’s wrongful death claims, or to substitute Morgan Jr. as the real party in interest… More than four and one half years after Morgan Sr. died, Morgan Jr. filed this wrongful death suit,” the opinion stated. Because they are distinct actions, Morgan Sr.’s personal injury action did not toll the statute of limitations for Morgan Jr.’s wrongful death action.”
It’s unfortunate that legal technicalities cost a family the money they deserved for having suffered through a terrible disease. The case is an important remind that experience matters when dealing with a complicated personal injury case. If you would like to speak with a Mississippi personal injury attorney about a potential personal injury claim, call the Mississippi personal injury lawyers at Kilpatrick & Philley today at (601) 856-7800.
Source: “Miss. SC shoots down wrongful death suit over lung disease,” by Jessica Karmasek, published at LegalNewsline.com.
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