Miss. court to hear Hinds wrong death lawsuit

Published 4:10 am Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Mississippi Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments May 13 in an appeal by a former Jackson doctor, who was found liable for the death of a Carthage woman in his care at Hospice Ministries in Ridgeland.

A Hinds County jury in 2006 awarded $4.5 million to the family of Ersel Allen, a 66-year-old woman whose family claimed she was treated with painkillers after she was misdiagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Dr. William Causey and Hospice Ministries were found liable in the wrongful death case. Hospital Ministries settled with the Allen family during the trial and is not a party to the appeal by Causey, who was the medical director at the facility.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Allen died in 2001 after receiving massive dosages of Dilaudid for cancer an autopsy showed she never had, according to court documents.

Causey is serving a 25-year sentence in Louisiana after being convicted in 2005 of molesting a 13-year-old Mississippi boy during a trip to the Independence Bowl football game in Louisiana. The incident occurred in 2002. Causey was convicted in federal court in Louisiana.

The wrongful death case is among dozens the Supreme Court will hear during the May-June term. Some of those cases will be decided based on briefs filed by lawyers rather than oral arguments.

The Supreme Court will consider for the second time an appeal from a Marion County couple who had sued General Motors for damages from a 1997 accident.

In 2006, the Supreme Court reinstated a lawsuit filed by Hilda Forbes and her husband. The lawsuit had been dismissed by a trial judge in 2000 on grounds that the couple failed to prove the air bag did not perform as it was supposed to.

In 2007, a Marion County judge again dismissed the case.

Hilda Forbes died in 2005.

In the lawsuit, the Forbeses claimed the air bag in their 1992 Oldsmobile did not deploy as GM had represented. Hilda Forbes was injured when her car collided with another vehicle in Marion County and the air bag did not inflate on impact, according to the court record.

Among cases the Supreme Court will decide based on briefs filed by attorneys rather than hearing oral arguments are:

— The Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance’s petition for a public reprimand for Hattiesburg city judge Edwin L. Pittman Jr. The commission said Pittman signed an arrest and set bond in 2006 for a man wanted on a charge of DUI manslaughter. The commission said Pittman was later hired by the man’s family to represent the man at trial.

— The Judicial Performance Commission’s recommendation of a public reprimand for Hinds County Justice Court Judge Frank Sutton Sr. The commission cited Sutton for misconduct for his actions in two landlord/tenant cases. The commission alleged that Sutton talked with parties outside the courtroom and dealt with attorneys in an undignified manner.

— A petition from former attorney Joe Gregory Stewart to be reinstated to the practice of law. The Supreme Court disbarred Stewart in 2004 after he was convicted of federal conspiracy charges. Stewart was sentenced in 2003 to six months house arrest after pleading guilty to federal charges of being involved in a scheme in which he and Tunica County deputies extorted money from drunk drivers.