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Saturday, August 31, 2013

New Tennessee Supreme Court Products Liability Case: Jury Verdict for Minor Plaintiff Reinstated

Yesterday the Tennessee Supreme Court issued its opinion in Meals ex rel. Meals v. Ford Motor Co., No. W2010-01493-SC-R11-CV (Tenn. Aug. 30, 2013).  The summary from the opinion reads as follows:
A six-year-old boy’s spine was fractured in a car wreck when the force of the impact caused him to jackknife over his lap seatbelt and pushed the seatbelt into his stomach and against his spine. The child’s mother filed suit on his behalf against Ford Motor Company (“Ford”), alleging that the defective design of the seatbelt and Ford’s failure to warn of a potential danger caused the child’s permanent paralysis and other enhanced injuries. A jury returned a $43.8 million verdict for compensatory damages, finding Ford to be 15% at fault and two non-parties 85% at fault. Ford’s share of the verdict, based on its degree of fault, was $6,570,000. The jury awarded no punitive damages. Ford moved for a new trial, arguing that the verdict was excessive. The trial court denied the motion for new trial and affirmed the verdict in its capacity as thirteenth juror. The Court of Appeals, in a divided opinion, ruled that the verdict was excessive and remanded to the trial court with a suggestion of remittitur from $43.8 million to $12.9 million, a 70.55% reduction. The suggested remittitur, if the plaintiff accepted it, would reduce Ford’s share of the verdict to $1,935,000. Meals ex rel. Meals v. Ford Motor Co., No. W2010-01493-COA-R3-CV, 2012 WL 1264454, at *18- 21 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 13, 2012). We hold that the Court of Appeals had the authority to suggest a remittitur even though Ford did not request a remittitur. We further hold that the Court of Appeals erred in remitting the verdict to $12.9 million. Having taken the strongest legitimate view of all the material evidence in favor of the verdict, assuming the truth of all that supports it, allowing all reasonable inferences, and discarding any to the contrary, we hold that the jury’s verdict was supported by material evidence and was within the range of reasonableness. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed and the jury’s verdict is reinstated.
Here is a link to the opinion:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Premises Liability: Summary Judgment for Defense Reversed!

The Tennessee Court of Appeals recently issued its opinion in Parker v. Holiday Hospitality Franchising, Inc., No. E2013-00727-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 27, 2013).  The summary from the slip opinion states as follows:
This is a premises liability case in which Plaintiffs alleged that a shower bench in Hotel collapsed, causing Husband to fall and sustain injuries. Plaintiffs filed suit against Defendant, claiming negligence. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that he did not install the bench and did not have actual or constructive notice of the independent contractor’s negligent installation of the bench. The trial court granted the motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case. Plaintiffs appeal. We reverse the decision of the trial court and remand for further proceedings.
Here's a link to the opinion:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

New Medical Malpractice Opinion

The Tennessee Court of Appeals issued its opinion today in Young v. Kennedy, No. W2012-00836-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 13, 2013).  The summary from the opinion states as follows:
This case involves the application of the medical malpractice statute of limitations. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendant doctor, finding that the statute of limitations defense was not waived by her failure to raise it in her first pre-answer motion, that the defense was sufficiently pleaded, and that the undisputed facts in the record supported a finding that the statute of limitations had expired at the time of filing the initial complaint. Affirmed and remanded.
Here is a link to the opinion:

Thursday, August 08, 2013

53 Rules to Help Witnesses Survive a Deposition

I like the suggestions at the link below.  Hope you do too.

No link between tort reform, reduced defensive medicine.

Study: No link between tort reform, reduced defensive medicine.

The Insurance Journal (8/7, 18K) reports that a study in the August Health Affairs "found no consistent relationships" between "physicians' level of malpractice concern with objective state-level indicators of malpractice liability risk." Instead, "physicians' perception of their risk...predicts their practice of defensive medicine," suggesting "that traditional malpractice reforms, such as caps on damages, don't change how physicians practice." Unlike previous studies that "focused on physician self-reports of how they would treat hypothetical patients," this study used Medicare claims data to examine doctor's actual behavior.

This article just reaffirms the fact that a one-size-fits-all "remedy" (i.e., caps on damages) is contrary to our Constitutional principles and is nothing more than another corporate bailout for insurors and big business that don't want to be called out on the rug in front of a jury to answer for something they did wrong.