Grimes v. Pearl River Valley Water Supply Dist., No. 91-1137

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore GARZA, JOHNSON and DUHE; GARZA
Citation930 F.2d 441
PartiesDanny GRIMES and Kristi Grimes, Individually and on Behalf of the Estate of Keeli A. Grimes, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. PEARL RIVER VALLEY WATER SUPPLY DISTRICT, Defendant-Appellee. Summary Calendar.
Decision Date06 May 1991
Docket NumberNo. 91-1137

Page 441

930 F.2d 441
Danny GRIMES and Kristi Grimes, Individually and on Behalf
of the Estate of Keeli A. Grimes, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
PEARL RIVER VALLEY WATER SUPPLY DISTRICT, Defendant-Appellee.
No. 91-1137
Summary Calendar.
United States Court of Appeals,
Fifth Circuit.
May 6, 1991.

Page 442

Roderick D. Ward, III, Lance L. Stevens, Schwartz & Associates, James D. Bell, Bell & Collins, Jackson, Miss., for plaintiffs-appellants.

Robert H. Pedersen, Watkins & Eager, Jackson, Miss., for defendant-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

Before GARZA, JOHNSON and DUHE, Circuit Judges.

GARZA, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiffs brought suit against the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District for the wrongful death of their daughter. The defendant filed a Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss which was granted. Finding no merit in any of the plaintiffs' assertions, we affirm.

FACTS AND PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

Plaintiffs sued under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Mississippi's wrongful death statute, Mississippi Code Annotated section 11-7-13, and The Constitution of the State of Mississippi, Article III, Section 24. The plaintiffs seek $2.5 million for the death of their daughter who drowned in the Pearl River while on a family outing. Suit was

Page 443

originally brought in state court and was removed to federal court by the defendant, Pearl River Valley Water Supply District (hereinafter "Pearl River Water District" or "PRWD"). Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The motion was granted by the district court and this appeal follows.

The facts of this case are not in dispute. Plaintiffs are the parents of the decedent Keeli A. Grimes. Defendant Pearl River Water District is an agency of the state of Mississippi which owns and maintains the Lowhead Dam on the Pearl River. On August 10, 1985, Keeli Grimes, her mother and Grover Grimes were riding in an outboard motorboat on the Pearl River when the boat struck a submerged object and the motor stopped. Before the motor could be restarted, the boat went over the dam and capsized, resulting in the drowning death of Keeli. Although the Pearl River Water District had installed a cable and several warning signs to help prevent this type of accident, the cable and signs were not maintained and did not exist on the day in question. Pearl River Water District admits it failed to keep the cable and signs at that part of the waterway in reasonably safe condition.

THE LAW

Our review of a 12(b)(6) dismissal is de novo. Walker v. South Cent. Bell Tel. Co., 904 F.2d 275, 276 (5th Cir.1990). On appeal, plaintiffs raise two issues with regard to the sovereign immunity of the PRWD. First, that the sovereign immunity scheme violates the Mississippi Constitution, and second, that the scheme violates the United States Constitution. Both arguments fail.

The Mississippi Constitution

Article III, Section 24 of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 contains a "remedy clause" which reads in pertinent part "every person for an injury done him ... in his person ... shall have remedy by due course of law." Plaintiffs contend the Mississippi sovereign immunity statute 1 violates this provision of the Mississippi Constitution. The district court did not agree and neither do we.

A little background of the law of Mississippi is essential to this issue. In 1985, the Mississippi Legislature responded to a Mississippi Supreme Court ruling which abolished judicial sovereign immunity, Pruett v. City of Rosedale, 421 So.2d 1046 (Miss.1982), by enacting Miss.Code Ann. Sec. 11-46-6 (Supp.1990), the Mississippi sovereign immunity statute. This statute provides that claims against the State and its agencies shall continue to be governed by the Mississippi case law as it existed immediately prior to the decision in Pruett. The Mississippi Supreme Court has specifically held Pearl River Water District is immune from wrongful death damages claims. French v. Pearl River Valley Water Supply District, 394 So.2d 1385 (Miss.1981).

Plaintiffs contend we must find the statute unconstitutional because it is in conflict with the "remedy clause" of the Mississippi Constitution. They cite us no authority, however, and argue solely on principles of justice. The statute is not in conflict with the constitutional provision. The Mississippi Constitution places no limitation on the Mississippi Legislature's ability to enact legislation....

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39 practice notes
  • N. Atl. Sec. Co. v. Blache, CIVIL ACTION NO. 19-379-EWD (CONSENT)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Middle District of Louisiana
    • November 10, 2020
    ...XIV, § 1. 52. Holden v. Perkins, 398 F. Supp. 3d 16, 23 (E.D. La. Aug. 15, 2019), citing Grimes v. Pearl River Valley Water Supply Dist., 930 F.2d 441, 444 (5th Cir. 1991)). 53. Fetty v. Louisiana State Bd. of Private Sec. Examiners, No. 18-517, 2020 WL 448231, at *10 (M.D. La. Jan. 28, 202......
  • Bishop v. City of Galveston, CIVIL ACTION H-11-4152
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • March 12, 2013
    ...or liberty interest and (2) that the deprivation occurred without due process of law. Grimes v. Pearl River Valley Water Supply Dist., 930 F.2d 441, 444 (5th Cir, 1991). Thus a procedural due process claim requires a two-step analysis: (1) does the plaintiff have a life, liberty, or propert......
  • O'Dell v. Town of Gauley Bridge, Nos. 20741
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • November 24, 1992
    ...confers immunity from liability on governmental entities and found no violation. See Grimes v. Pearl River Valley Water Supply Dist., 930 F.2d 441 (5th Cir.1991); Lacey v. Bekaert Steel Wire Corp., 799 F.2d 434 (8th Cir.1986); Smith v. Commissioners of Dewey Beach, 685 F.Supp. 433 (D.Del.),......
  • Herrington v. City of Pearl, Miss., Civ. A. No. 3:90-CV-289WS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Mississippi
    • March 31, 1995
    ...265 (1982); Atkins v. Parker, 472 U.S. 115, 105 S.Ct. 2520, 86 L.Ed.2d 81 (1985); Grimes v. Pearl River Valley Water Supply District, 930 F.2d 441, 444 (5th Cir.1991). When the Legislature passes a law which affects a general class of persons, those persons have all received procedural due ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
39 cases
  • N. Atl. Sec. Co. v. Blache, CIVIL ACTION NO. 19-379-EWD (CONSENT)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Middle District of Louisiana
    • November 10, 2020
    ...XIV, § 1. 52. Holden v. Perkins, 398 F. Supp. 3d 16, 23 (E.D. La. Aug. 15, 2019), citing Grimes v. Pearl River Valley Water Supply Dist., 930 F.2d 441, 444 (5th Cir. 1991)). 53. Fetty v. Louisiana State Bd. of Private Sec. Examiners, No. 18-517, 2020 WL 448231, at *10 (M.D. La. Jan. 28, 202......
  • Bishop v. City of Galveston, CIVIL ACTION H-11-4152
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • March 12, 2013
    ...or liberty interest and (2) that the deprivation occurred without due process of law. Grimes v. Pearl River Valley Water Supply Dist., 930 F.2d 441, 444 (5th Cir, 1991). Thus a procedural due process claim requires a two-step analysis: (1) does the plaintiff have a life, liberty, or propert......
  • O'Dell v. Town of Gauley Bridge, Nos. 20741
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • November 24, 1992
    ...confers immunity from liability on governmental entities and found no violation. See Grimes v. Pearl River Valley Water Supply Dist., 930 F.2d 441 (5th Cir.1991); Lacey v. Bekaert Steel Wire Corp., 799 F.2d 434 (8th Cir.1986); Smith v. Commissioners of Dewey Beach, 685 F.Supp. 433 (D.Del.),......
  • Herrington v. City of Pearl, Miss., Civ. A. No. 3:90-CV-289WS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Mississippi
    • March 31, 1995
    ...265 (1982); Atkins v. Parker, 472 U.S. 115, 105 S.Ct. 2520, 86 L.Ed.2d 81 (1985); Grimes v. Pearl River Valley Water Supply District, 930 F.2d 441, 444 (5th Cir.1991). When the Legislature passes a law which affects a general class of persons, those persons have all received procedural due ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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