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franklin county times

Catching up with civil lawsuits

By By Suzanne Monk / managing editor
July 4, 2004
I would guess a lot of people reading the newspaper today are part of a group putting together a "care package" for a member of the Mississippi National Guard serving overseas. I'm going shopping today for a Guardsman friend, and my group is mailing off a big box of things she needs on Tuesday.
The courthouse shows fewer traces of the war in Iraq than other places, but I saw one during a recent file review.
It's a lawsuit filed against a master sergeant serving with the 183rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron.
The complaint claims his teenage son, left unsupervised in June 2002, drove the family car to a small grocery store out in the county. The store owner claims the boy vandalized the property and caused $10,000 in damage. The lawsuit asks for a half-million in punitive damages and a half-million dollars in lost revenue.
Most recently, the sergeant asked for a delay in the proceedings because he is unable to spend any time defending himself against a lawsuit right now. All his time is devoted to Operation Enduring Freedom.
I guess it will be waiting for him when he gets back.
Quick takes
Settlement No. 1: Catching up with some older civil lawsuits, I found two had been settled one in the last couple of months and one a year ago.
In May 2003, Zachary Thomas Childress died when his motorcycle struck a police car driven by Deputy Paul Earley. The accident happened on Center Hill-Martin Road. Casey Childress, Zachary's widow, filed a lawsuit against Early, Sheriff Billy Sollie and the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department in September 2003.
The complaint asserted that the deputy recklessly turned into her husband's lane, but an accident reconstructionist from the Mississippi Highway Patrol exonerated Earley.
The lawsuit was dismissed by Circuit Judge Robert Bailey in late April after a settlement from the county's insurance carrier.
Settlement No. 2: I lost track of this lawsuit because there was a long period during which there were no developments.
In 2000, Shirley Logan's car was struck by a van at the intersection of 20th Avenue and 18th Street. At the wheel of the van was a drug suspect fleeing from police officer Steven Earley. Logan was seriously injured.
In 2001, Logan filed a lawsuit against Earley and the city of Meridian. She said the police officer should not have conducted a high-speed chase in a residential area, and claimed his reckless decisions caused the accident.
No disciplinary action was taken against Earley, an MPD officer since 1992, but there was a settlement from the city's insurance carrier this time last year at which point, Logan's complaint was dismissed by Circuit Judge Larry Roberts.
The settlement amounts in both lawsuits are protected by confidentiality agreements.
Points of interest: There are a couple of coincidences associated with these two lawsuits: 1) Paul Earley and Steven Earley are brothers; and 2) Shirley Logan is the same lady who was featured last year on Silver Star billboards after she won a $300,000 jackpot at the casino in Philadelphia.
The nature of things: I know people sometimes wonder why they read about a lawsuit being filed and then don't hear about it again for a long time. It's because civil lawsuits can take years to make their way through the courts. A case of, "The wheels of justice grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine."
Suzanne Monk is managing editor of The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3229, or e-mail smonk@themeridianstar.com.