Mississippi Supreme Court’s Dissenting Opinion That We Almost Never Read

The Mississippi Supreme Court – an elected body that has a recent history of siding with defendants in personal injury cases – attempted to bar a dissenting opinion from Justice Oliver Diaz, Jr. in a wrongful death case. Diaz dissented with the majority’s decision to remand Mississippi Veterans Affairs Board v. Kraft.

Justice Diaz argued in the dissent of a wrongful death case that the statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits begins at the time of the injury, not on the date of death. “The obvious result is that a wrongful death action may expire before the decedent does,” Justice Diaz wrote.

Justice Diaz is no stranger to the crazy world of Mississippi politics. In 2005, a jury cleared Justice Diaz of all bribery charges. His ex-wife, however, pled guilty to tax evasion and was sentenced to two years’ probation. But the logic of his argument – that wrongful death claims start at the time of death – is so manifestly obvious that defense lawyers in other jurisdictions would not even make the argument.

The Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association needs to do a better job of getting out the message of how personal injury victims are being treated in Mississippi. Because Mississippi in the matter of a decade has gone from a jurisdiction with an open mind on personal injury claims to a state that says no to any issue that is a close call and some that should not even be close calls.