In a recently released ruling, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s decision in a personal injury case that had denied the plaintiffs any relief for their claim. The case was filed by two plaintiffs, who were struck by an out-of-control vehicle while standing at a walk-up window paying for fuel at a gas station owned by the defendant. Based on the high court’s ruling, the plaintiffs will be permitted to conduct further discovery on the issue of the foreseeability of the danger that resulted in their injuries, and they may be able to collect compensation from the defendant for their injuries.
The case of Stanley v. Scott Petroleum Corporation was filed after the plaintiffs were injured while paying for gas near an exterior walk-up window at a gas station owned by the defendant. According to the most recent decision, the brakes malfunctioned on a car that was traveling on the highway adjacent to the station. The vehicle then entered the parking lot going 45 miles per hour and collided with a set of vending shelves, knocking them into the plaintiffs and causing injuries. The plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that the walk-up window was in an unreasonably dangerous spot and that the defendant negligently failed to place a curb or barriers between the roadway and the walk-up window.
The District Court and Court of Appeals Refused the Plaintiff Additional Discovery
After the lawsuit was filed and the discovery was completed, the defendant asked the district court to find that there was no evidence that the defendant could or should have foreseen the risk of such an accident occurring, and that the plaintiffs’ claim failed as a matter of law. In response to the defendant’s motion, the plaintiff argued that they were in the process of obtaining expert reports and other additional discovery that would allow them to dispute the defendant’s motion. Relying on a local court rule, the district court found that the plaintiffs should have requested more time for discovery within 90 days of the defendant’s initial response, and a continuance was not justified. On the plaintiff’s first appeal, the Mississippi Court of Appeals agreed with the district court and affirmed the ruling that the defendant was not liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.
The State Supreme Court Disagreed With the Lower Courts
On the second appeal, the plaintiffs convinced the Mississippi Supreme Court that they were entitled to a continuance to perform more discovery. The court found that while business owners do not always have a duty to erect protective barriers to ensure the safety of patrons, such a duty may arise depending on the factual circumstances of a given case. The state high court then ruled that the district court should have granted a continuance to allow the plaintiffs to gather more facts to demonstrate if this was such a situation. As a result of the ruling, the case will return to the district court, and the plaintiffs will be able to conduct more discovery.
The New Mexico Summary Judgment Rule
The rule in New Mexico that dictates whether a party can request additional time to conduct more discovery in opposition to a motion for summary judgment is N.M.R.A. 1-056(F). The language of the rule is nearly identical to the rule that the court used to allow a continuance in Stanley v. Scott Petroleum Corporation, although not all courts interpret the language the same way, and local court rules may differ. It is important for New Mexico accident victims to obtain representation from a New Mexico accident attorney who is familiar with all of the relevant state, local, and federal court rules to prevent their claim from being denied for a failure to comply with a procedural requirement.
Have You Been in a Crash in New Mexico?
If you or someone close to you has been injured or killed in a New Mexico car accident, the aggressive New Mexico personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at the Fine Law Firm will help you be sure that your case is handled correctly. Our experienced New Mexico accident attorneys and staff can assist you in trying to hold dangerous drivers and business owners accountable for their negligence and seek the compensation you deserve. Call the Fine Law Firm today at (585) 989-3463 or sign up online to schedule a no-obligation consultation.
More Blog Posts:
State Court Hears Appeal Following Denial of Expert Testimony, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, February 2, 2016.
Appellate Court Affirms Denial of Plaintiff’s Medical Malpractice Claim Based on Lack of Expert Witness Testimony, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, February 22, 2016.