MCCOMB, Miss. (AP) — A lawsuit against U.S. Senate appointee Cindy Hyde-Smith has been permanently dismissed.
The Daily Leader reports Circuit Judge David Strong dismissed the case with prejudice April 3. That means the lawsuit can be appealed to a higher judge, but can't be refiled.
Hyde-Smith was headed toward a Dec. 4 court case in a suit brought by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. that claimed one of her horses caused an accident on a state highway March 27, 2015. The suit alleged negligence and was seeking to recover $3,928 paid to Connie Ricketts, of Vicksburg, who struck the horse while traveling on Interstate 55.
Hyde-Smith denied all allegations and sought dismissal of the suit initially filed March 8, 2016.
Hyde-Smith will be sworn in Monday to the U.S. Senate, replacing Sen. Thad Cochran, who stepped down from a 40-year career on April 1 due to declining health.
Hyde-Smith, who is a cattle farmer in Brookhaven, served 11 years in the state Senate as a Democrat before switching to the GOP in late 2010. She won statewide races for agriculture commissioner as a Republican in 2011 and 2015. She was the first woman to hold that job, just as she will be the first woman to represent Mississippi in Congress.
She will face a special election in November to fill the remainder of the term, which ends in January 2021. Her opponents, so far, will be Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel, former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy and Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton, both Democrats.
The last time Mississippi had a Democrat in the Senate was in January 1989, when John C. Stennis retired.
Candidates won't be identified by party on the ballot, but they are allowed to tell voters their political affiliation.
Other candidates could also emerge before the April 24 qualifying deadline.