Mississippi Supreme Court Reverses Award in City of Picayune vs. Landry Lewis Architects Case

Published 11:25 am Monday, March 18, 2024

The Mississippi Supreme Court has made a significant decision, reversing a $210,000 judgment against the City of Picayune. The City of Picayune v. Landry Lewis Germany Architects, P.A. was a lawsuit filed by the City of Picayune over defects in an addition to the Picayune City Hall. The reversal was based on alleged negligence during jury selection.

During the trial, a juror named Lorenzo Breland, the son of a Picayune city councilman, was seated on the jury. The City’s representative, aware of Breland’s relationship, informed the City’s counsel but did not take further action. Only after an unidentified spectator informed a court clerk of Breland’s relationship did the trial judge dismiss Breland as a juror, which led to a mistrial, and the City voluntarily dismissed its claims against Landry Lewis.

Landry Lewis then filed a counterclaim for negligence against the City, alleging that the City failed to inform the trial court of Breland’s familial relationship. The trial court awarded Landry Lewis $210,000 in damages, but the Mississippi Supreme Court has reversed that decision.

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In its ruling, the Supreme Court concluded that the City of Picayune did not breach a duty of care in tort to Landry Lewis by failing to inform the trial court about juror Breland’s relationship. The Court found that the City’s actions did not constitute negligence under Mississippi law, leading to the reversal of the award of damages.

The Court emphasized that trials and jury selection are adversarial processes and that the responsibility for identifying potential issues with jurors lies with the parties involved in the case. The Court’s decision was unanimous, with Chief Justice Randolph and Justices Kitchens, King, Coleman, Maxwell, Beam, Chamberlin, and Griffis concurring.

The City of Picayune has expressed satisfaction with the Court’s ruling, stating that it believes the decision aligns with the case’s law and facts. Landry Lewis still needs to state the verdict.