Taylor v. Walmart Transportation, LLC et al
ORDER denying 57 Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Signed by District Judge Kristi H. Johnson on 10/1/2021. (ANT)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:20-CV-162-KHJ-LGI
WALMART TRANSPORTATION, LLC;
TERRY HERNDON; and JOHN DOES 1-10
Before the Court is a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment  filed by
Defendants Walmart Transportation, LLC (“Walmart”) and Terry Herndon
(collectively, “Defendants”). Defendants ask the Court to dismiss Plaintiff Vickie
Taylor’s claims for money damages from medical treatment by Dr. Dinesh Goel and
the Medical Clinic of Mississippi (“the Clinic”). For the following reasons, the Court
denies the motion.
Factual Background and Procedural History
Most facts are uncontested. This case arises out of a motor vehicle accident
that occurred on August 29, 2017.  at 1. Taylor was driving her vehicle north on
Interstate 55 in Jackson, Mississippi. State Court Compl. [2-2] at 2. She alleges that
Terry Herndon, an employee of Wal-Mart, was driving a 2015 Freightliner Cascadia
tractor-trailer directly behind her in heavy traffic. Id. She contends that Herndon
negligently caused a collision between his vehicle and hers. Id. at 3. Walmart
admits that Herndon was negligent for not securing the cowling, i.e., the removable
covering of the vehicle’s engine, that Defendants allege later rotated forward and
hit Taylor’s vehicle, causing damage. Mot. for Summ. J.  at 2. See also Herndon
Answer [2-15]; Walmart Answer [2-16].
The day of the accident, Taylor retained attorney Matt Newman to represent
her in this litigation.  at 2. Newman’s law firm referred Taylor to Dr. Goel at the
Clinic for treatment of her injuries arising from the accident. Id. Two days after the
accident, Taylor sought medical treatment from Dr. Goel. Id. At that time, she
entered into a written agreement (“the Agreement”) to account for the Clinic’s
compensation for treatment of injuries from the accident. Id. The relevant language
from the Agreement is recounted below:
I, (patient) hereby grant and assign to Medical Clinic of Mississippi
and/or Dinesh Goel, M.D. (“The Clinic”) all rights to payment of The
Clinic’s charges for my medical treatment by the Clinic from my claim
for personal injury which occurred on or about (accident).
I hereby authorize and direct you, Matt Newman, (MY ATTORNEY), to
submit The Clinic’s bills for payment to the private third parties and
pursue the claim assigned to The Clinic and to pay directly to The Clinic
such sums as may be due and owing to The Clinic for medical services
rendered to me, both by reason of this accident and by reason of any
other bills for my treatment that are due to The Clinic. I hereby further
give a lien on my case to the Clinic for the amounts owed to The Clinic
against any and all proceeds of any settlement, judgment, or verdict for
my personal injury claim which may be paid to you, my attorney, or
myself, as the result of the injuries for which I have been treated or
injuries connected herewith.
Taylor sued Walmart and Herndon on January 30, 2020, alleging that she
suffered injuries and medical damages because of the accident. Id.; see also [2-2] at
3-4. Taylor alleges that she incurred $17,480.79 in damages from Dr. Goel’s medical
treatment.  at 3. After Taylor sued, Dr. Goel and the Clinic reassigned the
rights from the Agreement back to Taylor on February 8, 2021. Reassignment
Agreement [57-4]. Defendants ask the Court to grant summary judgment and
prevent Taylor from recovering damages from medical expenses incurred from Dr.
Goel and the Clinic. Defendants argue Taylor may not recover these damages
because Dr. Goel and the Clinic were necessary parties who did not join the lawsuit
within the three-year statute of limitations period, and the reassignment occurred
about five months after the statute of limitations ran. Mem. in Support of Mot.
Summ. J.  at 3-4.
When considering a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, the
Court must “grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). “A fact is ‘material’ if, under the applicable substantive
law, ‘its resolution could affect the outcome of the action.’” Patel v. Tex. Tech Univ.,
941 F.3d 743, 747 (5th Cir. 2019) (quoting Sierra Club, Inc. v. Sandy Creek Energy
Assocs., L.P., 627 F.3d 134, 138 (5th Cir. 2010)). “An issue is ‘genuine’ if ‘the
evidence is such that a reasonable [factfinder] could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.’” Jones v. United States, 936 F.3d 318, 321 (5th Cir. 2019)
(quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). In analyzing a
motion for summary judgment, “the judge’s function is not [her]self to weigh the
evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a
genuine issue for trial.” Klocke v. Watson, 936 F.3d 240, 246 (5th Cir. 2019)
(quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249). The Court views the evidence and draws
reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Duval v. N.
Assur. Co. of Am., 722 F.3d 300, 303 (5th Cir. 2013).
Mississippi’s statute of limitations for personal injury actions is three years.
Miss. Code Ann. § 15-1-49. Taylor filed this lawsuit in Mississippi state court within
the three-year statute of limitations. See [2-2]. Defendants argue, however, that
Taylor is barred from recovering her medical damages because Dr. Goel and the
Clinic did not join the lawsuit or reassign the Agreement’s payment rights back to
Taylor within the three-year period.  at 4. Thus, Defendants argue, Taylor is
precluded from these damages as a matter of law.
To support their argument, Defendants cite to Evans v. Roger’s Trucking,
Inc., No. 3:19-cv-157, 2019 WL 10506082 (S.D. Miss. Nov. 12, 2019); [57-C]. In that
case, the Court reviewed an assignment agreement identical to the Agreement here
and required Dr. Goel and the Clinic to join as parties in the plaintiff’s lawsuit for
damages arising from a motor vehicle accident. The Court stated that Mississippi
law provides for where “there has been a partial assignment . . . an assignee . . .
should join . . . all the parties in interest, so that . . . a single decree may determine
the duty to each claimant and protect the rights and interests of each party in
interest.” Id. at *2 (citing Hull v. Townsend, 186 So.2d 478, 480 (Miss. 1966)).
After the Court determined that Dr. Goel and the Clinic were necessary
parties because of the assignment agreement, Dr. Goel and the Clinic reassigned
the payment rights back to the plaintiff in that case. See Evans v. Roger’s Trucking,
Inc., No. 3:19-cv-157, 2020 WL 5588810, at *1 (S.D. Miss. April 24, 2020). The Court
then held that Dr. Goel and the Clinic could reassign their rights, and that “[b]y
executing the new assignment, the Clinic and Dr. Goel have relinquished ownership
interest in Plaintiff’s right to payment of the Clinic’s and Dr. Goel’s charges for the
Plaintiff’s medical treatment arising from Plaintiff’s  motor vehicle accident.” Id.
Because the Clinic and Dr. Goel reassigned their rights, the plaintiff did not have to
add them as a party and could seek the medical damages originally assigned to the
Clinic and Dr. Goel. Id. at *2.
Here, Defendants offer no authority to support that the reassignment had to
occur before the three-year statute of limitations otherwise Taylor cannot recover.
Nor do Defendants cite case law suggesting that even if the reassignment had never
occurred, the Clinic and Dr. Goel’s claims would not relate back to Taylor’s
Complaint. And the Court cannot find any support for these arguments either.
Taylor filed her lawsuit within the 3-year statute of limitations. At no point did she
relinquish her rights to her negligence claim. The Clinic and Dr. Goel reassigned
Taylor the rights to payment for her medical damages during the pendency of the
lawsuit. There is therefore no genuine issue of material fact and no legal authority
offered to contradict that Taylor’s medical damages from the Clinic and Dr. Goel are
legally hers to recover.
The Court has considered all the arguments set forth by the Parties. Those
arguments not addressed would not have changed the outcome of the Court’s
decision. For these reasons, the Court DENIES Defendants’ Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment .
SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED this the 1st day of October, 2021.
s/ Kristi H. Johnson
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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