Smith v. Mississippi Transportation CommissionAnnotate this Case
Rhonda Smith appeals the Smith County Circuit Court’s grant of summary judgment to the Mississippi Transportation Commission (MTC). In 2010, Smith collided with a loaded logging truck. The truck was driven by Shelby Colson on Highway 28 in Smith County, Mississippi. Colson testified that he began slowing his vehicle because Joe Blackwell, an MTC employee, approached the truck from the side of the highway. He said Blackwell approached from under a tree canopy carrying a stop sign. Colson further said he had not seen any warning signs indicating that road work was occurring ahead or that he needed to slow his vehicle down before spotting Blackwell. Colson said Blackwell made no effort to wave the sign or to get his attention. He stopped because he was unsure what Blackwell was doing. Regardless of what prompted Colson to stop, Smith’s car rear ended Colson’s truck. Smith had no recollection of most of the events that occurred that morning. In June 2011, she brought suit against the MTC. The suit alleged that both Blackwell and the MTC were negligent in Blackwell’s posting, the sign placement, as well as Blackwell’s signaling. The MTC argued that Smith’s claims were preempted by the MTC’s discretionary-function immunity under Mississippi Code Section 11–46–9(1)(d) (Rev. 2015). As the Court of Appeals noted, “the precedent governing that question has evolved even during the pendency of this case . . . .” In Bailey v. City of Pearl, 282 So. 3d 669, 671(Miss. Ct. App. 2019), the Mississippi Court of Appeals correctly applied the public-policy function test articulated in the recent decision Wilcher v. Lincoln County Board of Supervisors, 243 So. 3d 177 (Miss. 2018). Similar to Bailey, not all of Smith’s theories of recovery were disposed of by summary judgment. As in Wilcher and Bailey, issues of material fact remainrf regarding the MTC’s liability. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the Smith County Circuit Court’s grant of summary judgment to the extent Smith’s claims were grounded in the MTC’s decision-making processes, but it was reversed concerning Smith’s claims unrelated to the MTC’s decision-making processes.