Mississippi Department of Transportation v. MusgroveAnnotate this Case
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency on January 27, 2014, in anticipation of an imminent winter storm. In response to the governor’s declaration, Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) placed limestone material on roadways as a remedial measure. Four days after the state of emergency was declared, Kenneth Musgrove lost control of his car and crashed on Highway 37, where MDOT had placed the limestone material, severely injuring his wife and himself. The Musgroves filed a complaint against MDOT for damages from the car accident. MDOT filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that it was participating in emergency-management services under the Mississippi Emergency Management Law (MEML) and therefore was immune from liability. The trial court denied MDOT’s motion for summary judgment, finding that there was a “genuine issue of material fact as to whether MDOT exercised due care in maintaining the road by placing gravel on the road and failing to warn drivers” of the gravel. MDOT timely filed its petition for interlocutory appeal, arguing that the MEML explicitly grants state agencies complete immunity from liability and that the trial court had erred by applying the standards set forth in the Mississippi Tort Claims Act (MTCA) instead of applying the willful-misconduct standard set forth in the MEML. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found MDOT indeed had immunity under the MEML, and that the trial court erred by applying the MTCA’s immunity standards instead of applying the MEML’s standard.