Summary Judgment Blog Posts

Court of Appeals Provides Guidance on Statutory Summary Judgment Standard

The Tennessee Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Rye v. Women’s Care Ctr. of Memphis, MPLLC, 477 S.W.3d 235 (Tenn. 2015) established that Tennessee generally follows the federal standard where summary judgment motions are concerned, but left many open questions–particularly regarding the interplay between the Rye decision and the pre-existing Tennessee statutory summary judgment standard.  (See our write-ups here and here.)  But, the Court of Appeals has recently provided some help for practitioners… [Read more…]

Dance Party Results in Injuries But No Liability

The Court of Appeals  recently examined potential liability from a deck collapse during a party attended by “a ridiculous amount” of high school students.  The upshot?  It seems like a determination that having lots of people jumping and dancing on a deck doesn’t make it forseeable that the deck could break and hurt people…  [Read more…]

Tort Law Blog: How is Pleading Vicarious Liability Like Skinning a Cat?

Every once and a while, a court case will serve as a helpful refresher on some concepts that attorneys may have not thought of since law school.  The Tennessee Court of Appeals’ ruling in Bowman v. Benouttas includes a helpful primer on various theories of vicarious liability: respondeat superior, joint venture, and implied partnership.  In other words, there’s more than one way to get there, but you still have to plead each argument. [Read more…]

Court of Appeals Addresses Nonsuits in Healthcare Liability Actions (Again—-and Again!)

This fall, two opinions, issued two days apart and from different sections of the Tennessee Court of Appeals, have explored the same essential question: should a plaintiff in a health care liability action be permitted to voluntarily dismiss his lawsuit without prejudice in the face of a motion to dismiss arising from an inadequate certificate of good faith? [Read more…]

Sometimes a slip and fall is really just a slip and fall…

The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur is a rule of evidence intended to assist the plaintiff who has no direct evidence of negligence by providing a way to have  circumstantial evidence considered when a plaintiff is trying to proof negligence.  The doctrine won’t save a case where there is simply no evidence of negligence, though. [Read more…]

Injured Patron Can’t Sue; Membership Agreement Waived Right

An exculpatory clause waives the right to sue.  A recent Court of Appeals case shows that it the waiver can be far broader than you may realize.  [Read more…]

Collateral Source Rule under Attack

This article by Donald Capparella originally appeared in the Tennessee Tort Law Letter.

The Court of Appeals recently decided a case that will affect every personal injury case in Tennessee… [Read more…]

Premises Liability Case Falls Short

Premises liability cases are often difficult, and the recent case of Mooney v. Genuine Parts Company d/b/a National Automotive Assoc illustrates [Read more…]

New Dog Bite Case Law in Tennessee

Dog bite cases can be particularly tricky.  A recent Tennessee Court of Appeals ruling  in the case Moore v. Gaut, No. E2015-00340-COA-R3-CV provides a good overview of the law on the subject and points to the simmering debate of whether specific breeds are inherently dangerous… [Read more…]

Examining How Smith v. UHS of Lakeside Is Impacting Summary Judgment

In July 2014, the Tennessee Supreme Court issued its opinion in Smith v. UHS of Lakeside, Inc., 439 S.W.3d 303 (2014). The opinion addressed the correct procedure for a trial court to rule on summary judgment motions. In beginning its analysis, the Supreme Court noted that the appeal required it to address three important procedural principles:

1.) The principle reflected in Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 56.04 that a trial court must state the grounds upon which the court denies or grants the motion for summary judgment, which shall be included in the order reflecting the court’s ruling;
2.) The principle that after the court decides the summary judgment ruling, the trial court may authorize counsel to prepare and submit a proposed order for the trial court’s consideration;
3.) The principle that courts speak through their orders, judgments, and minute entries. Id. at 312.

The Court noted that Rule 56.04 was amended in 2002 and 2007 to permit a party to request the trial court to state the legal grounds for its decision and thereafter, to require that the trial court state the legal grounds in both the grant and denial of a motion for summary judgment. Id. at 313. The Court emphasized that the failure to adhere to the Rule complicates the ability of the appellate courts to review the trial court’s decision. Id. The Court went on to address the practice of trial courts requesting and considering proposed orders prepared by the prevailing party. Id. at 316. The Court held that Rule 56.04 requires the trial courts, upon granting or denying a motion for summary judgment, to state the grounds for its decision before it invites or requests the prevailing party to draft a proposed order. Id.

Almost a year and a half later, what has the impact of this opinion been? The case has been cited twenty-eight times following its entry. To put that number into context, the Tennessee Court of Appeals between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014, the last time such data was provided on the Administrative office of the Courts’ website, issued approximately 687 opinions. The previous year, the Court of Appeals issued 776 opinions.  While the statistics do not include the number of opinions that related to a ruling on summary judgment, the number of citations to the Smith v. UHS of Lakeside opinion are not overwhelming. Thus, if one was to answer the question based solely upon the number of times the case had been discussed in subsequent Court of Appeals’ opinions, the answer might be that it had little impact on summary judgment jurisprudence.

However, when one looks to the cases that have cited the Smith opinion, it becomes evident how important the opinion is and how very critical it is for the trial court to abide by its instructions. It also becomes clear that lawyers themselves should work to insure that the trial court is abiding by the instructions of Smith and Rule 56.04.  [Read more…]