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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New Tennessee Supreme Court Decision: Calculating a Reasonable Attorney's Fee for Counsel When Representing a Minor

Yesterday the Tennessee Supreme Court released its opinion in Wright ex rel. Wright v. Wright, No. M2008-01181-SC-R11-CV (Tenn. Mar. 29, 2011). Here's the summary from the opinion, to wit:

We granted this appeal to determine the proper method for computing a reasonable attorney’s fee when the attorney represents a minor. In this case, after the attorney obtained a $425,000 settlement for a minor injured in an automobile accident, the trial court awarded the attorney $141,666.66, or one-third of the recovery, pursuant to the terms of the attorney’s contingent fee agreement with the minor’s father. The court-appointed guardian ad litem appealed the fee award, and the Court of Appeals reversed. Upon remand, the trial court conducted an evidentiary hearing and determined that $131,000 would be a reasonable attorney’s fee, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. Reviewing for an abuse of discretion, we hold that the trial court applied the correct legal standard by analyzing the ten factors set forth in Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 8, Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5(a). We further hold that the fee award was neither illogical, based on an erroneous assessment of the evidence, nor an injustice to the minor. We therefore affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Here's a link to the opinion:

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Medical Malpracitce: Respondeat Superior & Amended Pleadings

Yesterday the Tennessee Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Randolph ex rel. Randolph v. Meduri, No. W2010-01224-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 2, 2010). Here's the summary from the opinion:

This appeal arises out of an action to hold UT Medical Group, Inc. vicariously liable for the alleged negligence of its employees. In 1997, the original plaintiff filed an amended complaint for medical malpractice and wrongful death which specifically named two doctors as employees of the defendant who negligently caused the death of a patient. As trial approached, a substitute plaintiff attempted to add new allegations concerning the negligence of a third doctor. The trial court denied the motion to amend and later granted a motion in limine to exclude evidence concerning the alleged negligence of the third doctor as beyond the scope of the 1997 amended complaint. The plaintiff consequently was unable to offer expert testimony at trial to prove an employee of the defendant negligently caused the patient’s death, and the trial court granted judgment in favor of the defendant. We affirm.
Here's a link to the opinion:

The opinion offers a discussion on the doctrine of respondeat superior; the pleading of the doctrine and its effects; and how a delay in an amendment to a pleading can affect a case.