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Friday, December 27, 2013

Holiday Message from TDL

Merry (belated) Christmas!  Happy New Year too!

I hope 2014 is your best year yet.  May it bring you much joy and happiness.

Lastly, please enjoy the holidays with your family and friends.  You won't regret it.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Understanding Your Court System: A Guide to the Judicial Branch

The link below leads to a booklet in pdf format published by the Tennessee Supreme Court and the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts that explains the judiciary branch on the federal and state levels, to wit:

Thursday, December 19, 2013

New Opinion on Tennessee Code Annotated section 20-1-119, Which Is the Comparative Fault Joinder Statute

The Tennessee Court of Appeals just issued its opinion in Morris v. Phillips, No. M2013-00417-COA-R9-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Dec. 17, 2013).  The summary from the opinion states as follows:
A multi-vehicle accident occurred in August 2010. The plaintiff initially named only one of the drivers involved in the accident along with the record owner of the driver’s vehicle. The record owner filed an answer identifying three other drivers/tortfeasors involved in the accident in December 2011, and the driver identified the same three individuals as tortfeasors in his answer that was filed seven months later, in July 2012. The plaintiff did not file an amended complaint adding the individuals identified as defendants until August 2012, which was more than 90 days after the first answer was filed. One of the individuals named as a defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing the plaintiff waited too late to add her as a defendant. The trial court denied the motion. The late-added defendant appealed, and we reverse the trial court’s judgment.
Here is a link to the opinion:

New Tennessee Supreme Court Opinion: Element of Duty in a Premises Liability Case

The Tennessee Supreme Court released its opinion in Cullum v. McCool, No. E2012-00991-SC-R11-CV (Tenn. Dec. 18, 2013).  The summary from the slip opinion states as follows:
The issue presented in this premises liability case is whether a store owes a duty to protect its customer from a visibly intoxicated customer who was ordered to leave the store by store employees. A store patron sued a store for negligence after she was struck and injured in the store’s parking lot by a vehicle driven by another store patron. Store employees had refused to fill the other patron’s medical prescriptions because they believed she was intoxicated; she became belligerent, and store employees ordered her to leave the store knowing that she was alone and would be driving her vehicle. In response to the lawsuit, the store filed a motion to dismiss, contending that it did not have a legal duty to control the intoxicated patron after she left the store. The trial judge granted the store’s motion to dismiss. The Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the store owed the injured patron a duty of care to protect her from the intoxicated patron. Taking the plaintiffs’ allegations as true and drawing all reasonable inferences in her favor, we hold that the foreseeability of harm and the gravity of harm to the injured patron outweighed the burden placed on the store to protect the patron against that harm. Therefore, the store patron’s complaint contains sufficient allegations which, taken as true, establish that the store owed a duty of care to the injured patron. The trial court erred by granting the motion to dismiss.
Here's a link to the majority opinion:

Justice Holder issued a separate opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.  Here is a link to that opinion:

Thursday, December 12, 2013

New Tennessee Supreme Court Opinion: Presuit Notices Extend Saving Statute in This Particular Health Care Liability Action

The Tennessee Supreme Court just released its opinion in Rajvongs v. Wright, No. M2011-01889-SC-S09-CV (Tenn. Dec. 12, 2013).  The summary from the slip opinion states as follows:
The plaintiff filed his initial health care liability action against the defendant prior to the enactment of the pre-suit notice requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121. The plaintiff voluntarily dismissed his original action. More than one year later, the plaintiff refiled his action after the effective date of section 29-26-121. The defendant moved for summary judgment, alleging that the plaintiff’s second action was barred by the statute of limitations. The plaintiff countered that his pre-suit notice commenced his new action prior to the expiration of the one-year saving statute. Alternatively, the plaintiff argued that Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121 extended the saving statute by 120 days. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment but granted permission to file an interlocutory appeal under Rule 9 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. The Court of Appeals granted the application for permission to appeal and affirmed the trial court’s denial of the motion for summary judgment. We hold that the plaintiff’s action was commenced by the filing of a second health care liability complaint rather than by providing pre-suit notice. We further hold that a plaintiff who files his initial action prior to the effective date of Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121, dismisses his original action, properly provides pre-suit notice, and refiles his action after the effective date of the statute, is entitled to the 120-day extension. We therefore affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand this case to the trial court for further proceedings.
Here is a link to the unanimous opinion:

Practice tip: Pay close attention to page 7 of this opinion.

This post is related to two prior posts: one from June 21, 2012; and the other from June 30, 2012.  Links to both are below: