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Friday, December 16, 2011

New Tennessee Supreme Court Decision: Products Liabilty

Yesterday the Tennessee Supreme Court released its opinion in Lind v. Beaman Dodge, Inc., No. M2010-01680-SC-S09-CV (Tenn. Dec. 15, 2011). Here's the summary from the majority opinion:
The plaintiff, who had purchased a truck from an automobile dealership, filed a products liability suit in 2007 against not only the manufacturer, but also the dealership, as seller. Later, the plaintiff entered a voluntary nonsuit as to the seller and proceeded only against the manufacturer. Over one year after the order granting nonsuit, the manufacturer declared bankruptcy, and, in 2009, the plaintiff again sued the seller, alleging both negligence and strict liability in tort. The seller filed a motion to dismiss, contending that the suit was barred by the statute of limitations. The trial court denied the motion but granted an interlocutory appeal. The Court of Appeals denied the appeal. This Court granted the seller’s application for permission to appeal to consider the application of the saving statute to these unique circumstances. We hold that the plaintiff may proceed under the strict liability claim because that cause of action did not accrue until the manufacturer was judicially declared insolvent. because, however, the second suit alleged acts of negligence on the part of the seller, an exception to the statutory rule prohibiting products liability suits against sellers, and could have been brought in 2007, the statute of limitations is a bar to recovery under that theory. The judgment of the trial court is, therefore, affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the cause is remanded for trial.

Here's a link to that opinion:

Justice Clark wrote a separate concurring opinion. Here it is:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Tennessee Supreme Court Opinion: Expert Testimony

This is a follow-up post to one I did on June 25, 2010 on this same case; that opinion was from the Tennessee Court of Appeals. The day before yesterday, the Tennessee Supreme Court released its opinion in Holder v. Westgate Resorts Ltd., No. E2009-01312-SC-R11-CV (Tenn. Dec. 12, 2011). The summary of the opinion is as follows:
During a trial of the plaintiffs’ premises liability claim, the trial court excluded as hearsay a portion of the testimony of the defendant’s expert. The expert would have testified that he consulted an authoritative source whose interpretation of the applicable building code was consistent with that of the testifying expert. The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff, and the defendant appealed. The Court of Appeals held that the trial court erred because the expert’s testimony was admissible pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Evidence 703. The Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court’s error was harmless, however, and affirmed the judgment. We hold that the Court of Appeals improperly applied an amended version of Rule 703 that was not in effect at the time of trial. We hold that the trial court properly excluded as hearsay portions of the proffered testimony of the testifying expert. We vacate the judgment of the Court of Appeals and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Here's a link to the opinion:

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Summary Judgment and Proximate Cause

The Western Section of the Tennessee Court of Appeals recently issued its opinion in Moore v. Butler, No. W2010-02374-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Dec. 1, 2011). Here's the summary of the opinion:

This appeal involves summary judgment in a vehicular accident case. In a line of vehicles, the defendant service vehicle was first, followed by the plaintiff’s tractor-trailer, and then bythe co-defendant’s tractor-trailer. The defendant’s service vehicle allegedly made a left turn without braking or using a turn signal, forcing the plaintiff’s tractor-trailer to brake quickly. This resulted in the co-defendant’s tractor-trailer rear-ending the plaintiff’s tractor-trailer. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant tractor-trailer for rear-ending him, and against the defendant service vehicle that turned in front of him. The defendant service vehicle owner filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion, finding that the defendant service vehicle owner had negated the element of proximate cause. The defendant tractor-trailer owner appeals. We reverse under the summary judgment standard in Hannan v. Alltel Publ’g Co., 270 S.W.3d 1 (Tenn. 2008).
Here's a link to the opinion:

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Medical Malpractice: Statutorily Required Presuit Notice Provides 120-day Extension of One-year Statute of Limitations Against Governmental Entity

The Tennessee Court of Appeals released its opinion yesterday in Cunningham ex rel. Cunningham v. Williamson Cnty. Hosp. Dist., No. M2011-00554-COA-R9-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Nov. 30, 2011). The summary of the opinion reads as follows:

Defendants, Williamson Medical Center and five of its employees, appeal from the denial of their motion to dismiss this medical malpractice action. They contend the action is time barred because it was filed more than one year after the cause of action accrued, in violation of the one year statute of limitations applicable to Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act actions, codified at Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-20-305(b). The trial court, however, found that the action was timely filed because it was commenced within the 120-day extension afforded to the plaintiffs pursuant to an amendment to the Tennessee Medical Malpractice Act, codified at Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121(c) (2009). We have determined that the amendment codified at Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26-121(a)-(c) applies, notwithstanding the one-year statute of limitations provision under the Governmental Tort Liability Act, that the plaintiffs’ compliance with the pre-suit notification provision in Tennessee Code Annotate § 29-26-121(a) extended the statute of limitations by 120 days, and that this action was timely filed within the 120-day extension. Therefore,were affirm.

Here's a link to the opinion: