Sherry Smith Ex Rel Lauren Taylor Agee v. Hannah Nicole Palmer

Sherry Smith Ex Rel Lauren Taylor Agee v. Hannah Nicole Palmer

The mother of a woman whose body was discovered in Center Hill Lake, where she had been camping with several friends, brought this wrongful death action against those friends, alleging that they caused her daughter’s death and conspired to cover it up. One of the defendants asserted her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination in her answer to the complaint and in response to discovery requests; in due course, the defendant moved for summary judgment. The mother filed several affidavits and declarations in response, as to which the defendant filed motions in limine and motions to strike in total or in part. The defendant also asserted her Fifth Amendment privilege as to additional statements of disputed facts filed by the mother in response to the summary judgment motion. The trial court granted or denied, in whole or in part, each motion in limine and to strike; held that the mother was not entitled to an adverse inference as to the defendant’s invocation of the privilege in response to discovery and mother’s statement of disputed facts in opposition to the summary judgment motion; and granted summary judgment to the defendant. Mother appeals. Upon a thorough review of the record, we reverse the grant of summary judgment, vacate the rulings on the motions in limine that are at issue in this appeal, vacate the holdings relative to defendant’s invocation of her Fifth Amendment privilege, and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. 

Authoring Judge: 
Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Originating Judge: 
Judge Jonathan L. Young
Date Filed: 
Wednesday, January 30, 2019