[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
FROM THE POPE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 58CV-16-538],
HONORABLE DENNIS CHARLES SUTTERFIELD, JUDGE
& Gillham, P.L.L.C., by: Luther Oneal Sutter, Little Rock;
and Baker & Schulze, Little Rock, by: J.G. "Gerry"
Schulze, for appellant.
Lindsey & Jennings LLP, Little Rock, by: Regina A. Young and
Gary D. Marts, Jr., for separate appellees Schumacher Group
of Arkansas, Inc., and Pope Emergency Group, LLC.
Rowlett, Moore & Boone, P.A., by: Beverly A. Rowlett, Tim
Boone, and Sarah E. Greenwood, Little Rock, for separate
appellee Russellville Holdings, LLC, d/b/a St. Marys
Regional Medical Center.
J. GLADWIN, Judge
appellant, Dr. Carroll "Don" Johnson, filed a
complaint in the Pope County Circuit Court alleging that
appellee Pope Emergency Group (Pope) and its parent company,
Schumacher Group of Arkansas (Schumacher), were liable for
breach of contract and wrongful termination. Dr. Johnson also
sued Russellville Holdings, LLC, which owns and does business
as St. Marys Regional Medical Center (St. Marys), for
tortious interference with the professional-services contract
that Dr. Johnson executed with Pope. Pope also filed a
counterclaim for breach of contract alleging that Dr. Johnson
failed to return a $30,000 signing bonus as required by the
terms of the agreement.
Johnson nonsuited all his claims after each of the appellees
filed motions for summary judgment. Pope elected to continue
with its breach-of-contract claim, and in a companion case
that we also decide today, see Johnson v. Pope
Emergency Group, 2019 Ark.App. 544, 589 S.W.3d 462, we
affirm the circuit courts order granting summary judgment to
Johnson refiled his claims against Pope, Schumacher, and St.
Marys in a separate case, Pope County Circuit Court case No.
58CV-16-538. The circuit court
dismissed those claims with prejudice, however, after ruling
that the summonses that Dr. Johnson issued with his refiled
complaint were fatally defective. Dr. Johnson now challenges
that order in this appeal. We affirm.
Facts and Procedural History
facts underlying Dr. Johnsons breach-of-contract,
wrongful-termination, and tortious-interference claims are
set forth in detail in our opinion in Johnson v. Pope
Emergency Group, supra ; consequently, we will not
repeat them here. Rather, we resume the story from the point
at which Dr. Johnson refiled his claims.
Johnson refiled his complaint against Pope, Schumacher, and
St. Marys on November 21, 2016. All the defendants were
served with summonses that provided, in material part, if
each of them "failed to respond within the applicable
time period, judgment by default will be entered
against [them] for the relief demanded in the
complaint." (Emphasis added.) Several months later,
Pope, Schumacher, and St. Marys filed motions to dismiss the
complaint because the summonses did not strictly comply with
Ark. R. Civ. P. 4(b), which expressly requires summonses to
state that judgments by default may — not
will — be entered in the event defendants fail
to timely respond. They argued that dismissal was mandatory,
moreover, because Dr. Johnson failed to seek an extension or
serve a corrected summons within 120 days after filing the
complaint, as required by Ark. R. Civ. P. 4(i).
the motions to dismiss were pending, Pope and Schumacher
filed a motion for protective order pursuant to Ark. R. Civ.
P. 26. The motion alleged that Dr. Johnson had refiled claims
that "he voluntarily dismissed in a previous action
after the parties had completed discovery, including a
deposition of a corporate representative for the
Schumacher-Pope defendants." The motion further alleged
that Dr. Johnson had "served another [Ark. R. Civ. P]
30(b)(6) deposition notice seeking to depose [the corporate
representative] a second time." Therefore, Pope and
Schumacher requested that the court issue a protective order
"quashing [the] repetitive deposition notice" and
"forbidding [Dr. Johnson] from engaging in ...
duplicative discovery." Pope and ...