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Friday, May 28, 2021

New Summary Judgment Opinion: Summary Judgment for Defendant Upheld on Appeal Because Plaintiff Failed to Comply with Rule 56.03, Tenn. R. Civ. P.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has released its decision in Brennan v. Goble, No. E2020-00671-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. May 27, 2021).  The syllabus from the slip opinion reads:
This appeal arose from a personal injury action. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, accompanied by a statement of material facts in compliance with Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 56.03. The plaintiff responded to the defendant’s motion for summary judgment but failed to respond to the separate statement of material facts. As a result of the plaintiff’s failure to respond to the statement of material facts, the Trial Court deemed those facts as stated by the defendant as admitted and granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant upon its determination that the defendant had negated an essential element of the plaintiff’s claim. Discerning no error, we affirm.
Here is a link to the slip opinion:

NOTE: This is a correct result.  I have seen both movants and nonmovants fail to comply with Rule 56.03's requirement of citing to the record to support or oppose a motion for summary judgment (which does not end well for the noncompliant party).  As noted on page 10 of this decision, Rule 56.03 exists so that a court does not have to unnecessarily dig through an entire record just to determine if a dispute exists as to a material fact.  

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

New Health Care Liability Action Opinion: Denial of Summary Judgment for a Defendant Upheld on Appeal; Authorization for Medical Records Substantially Complied with HIPAA

The Tennessee Court of Appeals released its decision today in Savannah v. State, No. E2020-01232-COA-R9-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. May 19, 2021).  The syllabus from the slip opinion reads:

Parents filed a healthcare liability and wrongful death complaint after the mother delivered a stillborn infant. We granted this interlocutory appeal to review whether the claims commission erred in denying summary judgment to the defendants. Finding no error in the Commission’s ruling, we affirm. 

Here is a link to the opinion:

NOTE: This is a must-read decision for any lawyer who handles health care liability action (HCLA) cases governed by Tennessee substantive law.  It addresses whether an authorization required under Tenn. Code Ann. sec. 29-26-121 complies with HIPAA, which has become all-too-common issues in HCLA cases.  

Thursday, May 06, 2021

New Tort Opinion: Summary Judgment for Defense Reversed on Appeal Because Plaintiff Had Demonstrated That a Genuine Issue of Material Fact Existed for Trial

The Tennessee Court of Appeals released its opinion the other day in Davis v. Keith Monuments, No. E2020-00792-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 29, 2021).  The syllabus from the slip opinion reads:

Plaintiff filed suit for damages alleging that she had been injured when the headstone at her deceased brother’s grave fell on her and broke bones in her hand. After Defendant, the installer of the headstone, moved for summary judgment, the trial court dismissed Plaintiff’s claims with prejudice. On appeal, we reverse that portion of the trial court’s summary judgment order dismissing Plaintiff’s claim which is based on Defendant’s alleged negligence in installing the headstone.

Here is a link to the opinion:

NOTE: This is a great opinion!  It addresses the proper application of the standard of review in summary judgment proceedings, computation of time, and expert-witness qualifications.  If you have to deal with a motion for summary judgment under Tennessee law, you need to read this opinion.