Our readers may remember Chamber of Commerce lackey and current Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Jess Dickinson took to judicial activism and reversed hundred of year of case law involving the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases when he ruled in favor of a corporate defendant in 2006. Nowdy wrote about it here in a post about how those big business lackeys on the Court tried to silence dissenting Justice Diaz who wryly observed:
“The obvious result is that a wrongful death action may expire before the decedent does.
“This judicially created rule is without foundation, and frankly, absurd,”
Anita Lee has the story in today’s Sun Herald:
The Mississippi Supreme Court has clarified a controversial opinion on when the clock starts for a lawsuit in wrongful death cases.
In a 2006 case, with Justice Jess Dickinson writing for the majority, the court ruled that the one-year statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit begins to run at the time of injury. The court recently affirmed that ruling in another case, prompting Justice Oliver Diaz Jr. to write a scathing dissent.
The court at first refused to make that dissent public. Dickinson reasoned, among other things, that it should not be released because the case was headed back to the lower court for retrial. Diaz called that decision “unprecedented.”
The court quickly changed its mind and published the opinion. Now a majority of justices has decided, in Caves vs. Yarbrough, that survivors can file a lawsuit for damages one year after the wrongful death, even if the injury occurred several years earlier.
Dickinson authored the opinion.
In a separate opinion, Diaz congratulates the court, quoting from the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” to make his point.
“Any other rule would require wrongful death beneficiaries to take action even before they are wrongful death beneficiaries and drag their dying loved ones into court to squabble with the trial judge over the inconvenience of the victim’s persistent pulse,” Diaz wrote.
“Arguments in favor of such an outcome call to mind the classic scene from ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail,’ in which a pauper beseeches a traveling mortician to take away his dying relative.”
“The relative protests that he’s not dead. The pauper concludes by asking the mortician, ‘Well, can you hang around a couple of minutes? He won’t be long.’
The wrongful death statute is labeled as such even though it transfers the injured person’s claim to surviving beneficiaries. The court says a survivor’s claim for loss of society, companionship and other benefits of the relationship can begin only with the death of that companion.