Smith, Stephenson Win Appeal

Leland Smith and Robert Stephenson were successful in defending an appeal brought by a former inmate against the Mississippi Department of Corrections.  

The inmate alleged that he was detained in the state penitentiary for 3 ½ months past his release date and the Mississippi Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the inmate’s lawsuit.  Mr. Smith and Mr. Stephenson argued that the Mississippi Tort Claims Act (“MTCA”) exempts governmental entities from liability for all claims brought by inmates.  It was further argued that the plaintiff failed to pursue an administrative remedy that was available for him.

The plaintiff argued that because he should not have been an inmate after his release date, the exemption from liability provided by the MTCA did not apply to him.  The Mississippi Court of Appeals rejected the plaintiff’s argument and instead agreed with the argument included in Mr. Smith and Mr. Stephenson’s brief which the Court quoted: “Tillman’s allegation that the MDOC incorrectly calculated the amount of time he should have served does not change his status as an inmate.”  Because the plaintiff was “a person confined in the custody of MDOC when his claims arose”, the Mississippi Court of Appeals held that the plaintiff’s claims were barred.