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Friday, October 30, 2009

Medical Malpractice: Plaintiff Fails to Survive Summary Judgment

The Tennessee Court of Appeals issued its opinion today in Range v. Sowell, No. M2006-02009-COA-R3-CV (Oct. 30, 2009). The Court held that summary judgment was proper due to a number of reasons, most notably the statute of limitations.

There is also discussion in Range on discretionary costs.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wrongful Death vs. Non-Fatal Personal Injury to the Deceased

The Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Timmins v. Lindsey, No. M2009-00500-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 29, 2009). This case discusses the difference between a wrongful death claim and a claim for personal injury to the deceased, which does not cause death, and how the proceeds from each claim are to be distributed.

Here's a link to the case:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Medical Malpractice: Plaintiff Fails to Survive Summary Judgment on Appeal

The Eastern Section of the Tennessee Court of Appeals just issued its opinion in Estate of Cusatis v. Casey, No. E2008-01786-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 28, 2009). The Court held that the plaintiff's expert failed to satisfy the requirements of Tennessee's medical malpractice act.

Here's a link to the opinion:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Person's Character

This has to do with the law, and almost everything else too. A few years ago, a friend of mine said to me: "You can tell a lot about a person's character by how they treat people when they don't have to be nice to them." That struck a cord with me and I've never forgotten it. I doubt I ever will.

Food for thought.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What is a "Tort"?

You hear people talk about "torts" and "tort reform" a lot, but not may people know what a tort is. According to a leading legal dictionary, here's the definition: a tort is defined as "a civil wrong for which a remedy may be obtained, usu. in the form of damages[.]..." Notice that it's a civil wrong as opposed to a criminal wrong. As we all know, the state or federal government prosecutes criminal wrongs (i.e., crimes).

Tort law exists to protect you and me. For example, if your car gets hit from behind, with you in it, you get hurt, and your car is totaled, tort law says you have a remedy for the harms to your property and body. Further, suppose a young husband with a wife and kids is wrongfully killed by another. The law --- specifically tort law --- says the dead husband's wife and kids have a claim for the wrong done to them. This way, the wife and kids have some form of compensation from the wrongdoer and won't have to rely upon family or others to get by after such a devastating loss. Doesn't this make sense? Doesn't this seem like the right thing to do? Shouldn't we as a society make a wrongdoer accept responsibility? That's what tort law is all about.

This is why I'm so baffled, shocked, and amazed when others speak of tort reform (which should actually be called tort deform); and when they say they want to get rid of our civil justice system. Frankly, the civil justice system that we have now has worked well for hundreds of years. As the old saying goes: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Medical Malpractice: Another Locality Rule Opinion

Yesterday the Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Plunkett v. Bradley-Polk, OB-GYN Serv's., P.C., No. E-2008-00774-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 30, 2009). Plaintiffs' expert primarily practiced in a large metropolitan community in Virginia near Washington, D.C. but demonstrated that he was familiar with other smaller communities in Virginia that were similar to the community in Tennessee where the defendants practiced. The trial court held that the plaintiffs' expert was disqualified under the locality rule. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and held that it abused its discretion in disqualifying Plaintiffs' expert.

Here's a link to the opinion:

Medical Malpractice, Collateral Estoppel & Comparative Fault

The Tennessee Supreme Court just issued its opinion in Mullins v. State of Tennessee, E2007-01113-SC-R11-CV (Tenn. Sept. 30, 2009). It is a medical malpractice case, which was originally filed in federal court. However, it was later discovered that some of the defendants were immune from suit under federal law and had to be sued in the Tennessee Claims Commission. This opinion illustrates the interplay between federal and state court in Tennessee and how collateral estoppel affects that interplay.

Here's a link to the opinion:

I'd like to thank John Day for bringing this opinion to my attention. Thanks John!

John's blog can be viewed at: You should check it out on a regular basis.