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mapWhile some issues of law are controlled by the federal government, many are governed by the law of the individual states. For instance, tort litigation issues such as the statute of limitations, the proper parties to a lawsuit, and available damages are governed by state law.

When the law of two or more states could possibly apply to a legal dispute, the courts are called upon to make a “choice of law” decision as to which state’s law to apply. Situations exist in which a suit would not be viable in one state but would be of significant potential value in another.

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Day Care Showing Childrens Club And Kid's

Pursuant to the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer can be held vicariously liable for the torts of a servant under certain circumstances. Furthermore, an employer can be held directly liable for the negligence in some cases.

In the recent case of Jones v. Windham, the Tennessee Court of Appeals was called upon to determine whether a woman whose child was struck by a daycare’s van driver could maintain a direct negligence action against the driver’s employers in light of their admission of vicarious liability.

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stairs-shadow-1-1621502The Tennessee Court of Appeals recently vacated a trial court’s directed verdict for defendants in a premises liability action, concluding there existed genuine issues of material fact as to whether the defendant homeowners were negligent.

The plaintiff was touring a rental house in Chattanooga owned by the defendants when she tripped on a step between two rooms. She brought a premises liability action in January 2012, alleging that the step was an unreasonably dangerous and defective condition that caused her fall and resulting injuries.

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file9291313200183 morguefile earl53Typically, governmental entities and their employees are immune from liability in Tennessee. Under the law, however, the employee of a governmental entity may be sued for operating a motor vehicle in a negligent manner while performing his or her job duties. In Jones v. Bradley County, a woman was apparently hurt when she collided with a County emergency vehicle that turned left in front of her against a red light in Cleveland, Tennessee. Following the accident, the woman filed a lawsuit against the County under § 29-20-202 of the Tennessee Code. In response to the lawsuit, the County filed a counterclaim against the injured woman alleging that she instead negligently caused the accident in which she sustained her personal injuries.

At trial, the emergency responder stated he activated the emergency lights and sirens on the truck he was driving prior to the traffic wreck. He also stated that he slowed the truck he was driving before entering the intersection where the crash occurred. It was undisputed that the roadways on which the motorists were travelling were both straight and the collision occurred on a clear day.

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5328739422_55bb4420b8_b MSVG Foter.com CC BYIn Naraghian v. Wilson, a woman was apparently injured in a Shelby County, Tennessee rear-end motor vehicle collision. About one year after the crash, the woman filed a negligence lawsuit against the purportedly at-fault driver in the Circuit Court of Shelby County. In her complaint, the hurt woman sought damages from the motorist for her injuries and property damage. In response, the other driver claimed he was not liable for the woman’s harm because she caused the traffic wreck. According to the motorist, he struck the woman from behind after she stopped for no reason at a green light.

During a jury trial, the woman testified that her automobile was hit when she came to a complete stop at a red light. Although she did not seek medical treatment immediately, the woman stated she began suffering from increasing pain in her neck, shoulders, and head. A few days after the crash, the injured woman sought treatment at a local hospital. The hospital apparently performed x-rays, provided the woman with prescription pain medication, and advised her to seek additional medical treatment if her pain continued. The woman eventually sought treatment for her injuries with a chiropractor.

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file000921513512 morguefile Melodi2In Coggins v. Holston Valley Medical Center, a woman and her spouse visited a patient in a Tennessee hospital. While at the medical facility, the woman apparently tripped over a feeding tube that was purportedly placed near the patient’s bed in a negligent fashion. As a result, the woman fell and sustained serious injuries. Later, the injured woman served the hospital with notice that she intended to file a lawsuit against the facility before ultimately filing her complaint.

In response to the woman’s case, the hospital filed a motion for summary judgment. In general, such a motion asks a court to rule that there are no material facts in dispute, and one party to a lawsuit is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. After reviewing the hospital’s motion, the trial court ruled that the woman’s claim constituted a premises liability action instead of a health care liability case. The trial court also found that the woman was not entitled to utilize the pre-suit notice provisions enumerated in Section 29-26-121 of the Tennessee Code to extend the statute of limitations. As a result, the lower court found that the woman’s case was not filed within the applicable one-year statute of limitations. After ruling the lawsuit was time-barred, the trial court granted the hospital’s motion for summary judgment.

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file0001808715015 morguefile claritaAlthough the food supply in Tennessee and the rest of the nation is remarkably safe, food-borne illnesses still occur. Recently, Knox County health care officials reportedly noticed an increase in the number of parasitic diseases that may be spread through food and other methods. Cryptosporidium can be transmitted through food that was prepared by someone who was infected, baby changing tables, surfaces that were not sufficiently disinfected, and person-to person interactions. Since the parasite is apparently resistant to chlorine, it may also be spread through swimming pools and other wet areas.

Unfortunately, the parasite, which causes diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, may be able to live on surfaces for up to one week. In addition, it generally takes about one month for the parasite to clear a person’s body. Symptoms of cryptosporidium may include massive amounts of diarrhea, which can result in the need for hospitalization. Children are especially prone to becoming dehydrated from the parasite.

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file000996420803 morguefile ronniebIn Neale v. United Way of Greater Kingsport, a minor child apparently suffered a serious injury to his hand while participating in an activity at a non-profit organization’s Tennessee facility. As a result, the child’s parents filed a negligence action against the organization. The parents eventually agreed to voluntarily dismiss the case, and the child’s father filed a new lawsuit against the non-profit as his son’s next friend. In his new complaint, the child’s father sought damages for his son’s physical injury, suffering, pain, medical bills, and more.

In response to the father’s case, the non-profit filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing the man was prohibited from pursuing the lawsuit under Section 20-1-105(b) of the Tennessee Code Annotated. Under the law, if an injured child’s parents are not cohabiting and one parent has exclusive legal custody of the minor, only that parent has the right to bring a lawsuit. At the time of the child’s injury, the boy’s mother was his primary residential parent. Following a hearing, the trial court granted the organization’s motion. The father then filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Knoxville.

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file000135192763 morguefile sideshowmomIn Beverly v. Hardee’s Food Systems, LLC, a couple went to a Tennessee fast food restaurant for breakfast. Immediately after entering the establishment, the husband slipped and fell in a puddle that was on the floor. As a result, the man sustained an injury to his right ankle. The entire incident was caught on tape by restaurant security cameras.

The mother of the child who caused the puddle apparently exited the restaurant with her children at about the same time the injured man entered the building. Although she was aware of the spill, the woman apparently failed to notify restaurant workers about the dangerous condition. While several patrons allegedly witnessed the child cause the puddle, no one notified the store workers about the slippery substance on the floor. Video evidence showed that the child caused the puddle about three minutes before the man fell. Although the video established that no employees were in the area prior to the man’s fall, it showed that the customer service counter was less than 20 feet away from the location of the puddle.

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heartbeat morguefile PrawnyIn Igou v. Vanderbilt University, a man filed a medical care liability action against a Tennessee hospital over the injury he allegedly sustained as a result of a surgical procedure that was performed at the facility.  According to the man, he was rendered impotent as a result of his surgeon’s error.  Prior to filing his case, the man provided the hospital with notice of his claim in accordance with Section 29-26-121 of the Tennessee Code.  When the man formally filed his complaint, he provided the court with a certificate of good faith under Section 29-26-122.  In addition, the man’s wife filed a loss of consortium claim.  She did not provide notice of her claim under the requirements enumerated in the Tennessee Health Care Liability Act (“THCLA”).

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