Articles Posted in Tennessee Law

Most east Tennessee car accident lawsuits are filed in state court. There are several procedural and strategic reasons for this. However, when a federal question is involved in the case or when there is diversity of citizenship between the parties, the defendant(s) may remove the case to federal court.

“Making a federal case out of it” tends to result in more costly, complex, and time-consuming litigation, at least from the plaintiff’s point of view. Thus, if there is any possibility of having the case returned to state court after removal, the plaintiff may be wise to consider this option.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiffs were a husband and wife who, along with their minor child, were allegedly injured in an accident in Chattanooga. They filed suit in state court against the driver whose negligence they alleged caused the crash. They also named the driver’s employer as a defendant in suit, asserting a claim for vicarious liability. The employer removed the state court action to federal court, invoking diversity jurisdiction (the plaintiffs were not from Tennessee).

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In an east Tennessee personal injury lawsuit based on a plaintiff’s allegations that a defendant acted negligently, there are four essential elements: duty, breach of duty, damages, and causation. “Causation” is a but-for cause-and-effect relationship between what the defendant did or did not do and what ultimately happened to the plaintiff.

Unless the plaintiff can prove all four of these elements, including causation, by a preponderance of the evidence at trial, his or her case will not be successful, even if his or her injuries were severe and even if the defendant admits that a legal duty towards the plaintiff was breached.

Facts of the Case

A recent case under consideration by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee arose as a result of a cleanup, removal, and recovery project at a 2008 ash spill at a Roane County fossil fuel plant. There were several plaintiffs, including both individuals who worked on the project and some who had spouses who did so. The plaintiffs’ claims including negligence, negligence per se, recklessness, fraud, misrepresentation, and/or strict liability for an ultrahazardous or abnormally dangerous activity. According to the plaintiffs’ the defendant’s failings as construction manager of the project caused pulmonary problems, skin and sinus illnesses, and other personal serious injuries.

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Generally speaking, the defendant in a Tennessee car accident case “takes the plaintiff as he finds her.” In other words, if the plaintiff had medical issues at the time of the accident, any exacerbation of these conditions is taken into consideration in determining the money damages to which the plaintiff (assuming that the defendant is held liable for causing the accident).

This is not to say that the defendant is held liable for the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition itself, only that the defendant cannot argue that another individual who did not suffer from the plaintiff’s physical limitations would not have been harmed in the accident or would have received less severe injuries.

Facts of the Case

In a recently decided appellate case, the plaintiff filed suit in the Circuit Court for Davidson County seeking monetary compensation for injuries she suffered in a motor vehicle accident that she alleged was caused by the defendant’s negligence. The case was tried to a jury and resulted in a verdict of $70,000 in the plaintiff’s favor. The trial court entered judgment for the plaintiff for a slightly smaller amount, after reducing the jury’s award because the amount they awarded for medical expenses exceed that which was entered into evidence at trial. The defendant appealed. Continue reading

The right to a fair trial is one of the most important components of the American judiciary system. This is true regardless of whether one is the plaintiff or the defendant or whether the case is criminal or civil.

If a litigant believes that some impropriety has taken place that could prejudice his or her at trial later on, he or she may file a motion to recuse the trial court judge, as happened in a recent Tennessee wrongful death lawsuit. Of course, such a motion is not automatically granted, as the moving party must have valid reasons for the request.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case filed in the Circuit Court for Davidson County, the plaintiff was the surviving spouse of a man who allegedly died as a result of an act of medical negligence committed by the defendant health care provider. The plaintiff filed suit, both individually and as surviving spouse, seeking monetary compensation for the decedent’s death. The defendant filed a motion for partial summary judgment, which the trial court judge indicated that he was going to deny on the basis that there were disputes over material facts. The judge’s law clerk allegedly stopped the plaintiff’s counsel in the hallway after the hearing and asked him to submit an order denying the defendant’s motion. Continue reading

Many Tennessee medical malpractice lawsuits involve tragic situations, but those involving young children and babies injured at birth can be some of the most heartbreaking. Doctors and their insurance companies are often quick to deny liability and shift blame for what happened.

Cases against doctors and medical providers can be very challenging, so it is important to consult with an experienced medical negligence attorney if your find yourself (or a close family member) the victim of a medical error.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case arising in Hamilton County, Tennessee, the plaintiffs were the parents of a minor child who suffered permanent injuries during his birth. These injuries left the child with only partial use of one of his arms, as well as other complications. The parents filed suit against the health services provider for whom the delivering obstetrician was employed, alleging that the doctor had been negligent during the delivery. Their allegations also included an accusation that the doctor used a vacuum extractor without first obtaining the plaintiffs’ informed consent. Continue reading

Like other personal injury and wrongful death cases, a Knoxville medical malpractice lawsuit usually sounds in negligence. In order to prove negligence, the plaintiff must prove four things:  that the defendant owed a certain duty of care, that the duty was breached, that the plaintiff was harmed, and that there was a causal link between the defendant’s breach of duty and the plaintiff’s damages.

Failing to prove any one of these elements by a preponderance of the evidence will result in the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case.

Facts of the Case

Filing an east Tennessee medical malpractice lawsuit is a complicated and demanding process. Not only is the plaintiff required to file a formal complaint (as is required in every personal injury and wrongful death case), but there are other requirements, as well.

Whether or not a plaintiff has performed all of the procedural requirements to proceed with a medical negligence case is often a subject of disagreement. When this happens, the trial court judge must decide whether there has been compliance with the applicable rules. A party displeased with the trial court’s ruling has the option of seeking an appellate court’s review. This is a very important issue because failure to comply with the applicable procedural rules can mean dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs in a case recently considered by the Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Nashville were the parents, surviving minor children, and estate of a woman who died after being found unresponsive in her room at the defendant hospital. The hospital specialized in in-patient psychiatric care, including detoxification from alcohol and controlled substances and suicidal ideation. The plaintiffs filed their first complaint against the hospital and others in October 2014, but voluntarily dismissed it in January 2015. Continue reading

There’s an expression to the effect that sometimes one can “win the battle, but lose the war.” This can happen in the legal field, including in an east Tennessee medical malpractice case. A recent appellate case from Coffee County is illustrative. A widow won her medical malpractice case against a negligent hospital in the trial court, but the appellate court found an error in an additur to the verdict by the trial court judge.

The war continues, with the next step being a retrial, during which both parties will be allowed to present their respective evidence to a different pool of jurors.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent case was the widow of a man who passed away in 2012 while a patient at a hospital owned by the defendant. The man was admitted to the hospital for treatment of kidney stones. By the next morning, his life was in peril; he was not breathing and had to be resuscitated. Unfortunately, the man suffered a brain injury during this time and died a few days later after life support was removed. The widow filed suit in the Circuit Court of Coffee County, alleging that the defendant was vicariously liable for the hospital staff’s negligence and seeking to recover damages for her husband’s injuries and wrongful death. Included in the plaintiff’s complaint were allegations that the defendant failed to establish appropriate procedures for the management of a patient-controlled analgesia pain pump (PCA pump) and failed to educate its employees on the potential effect of opioid therapy on sedation and respiratory depression.

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When someone is hurt on another person’s property, the injured person may file a lawsuit seeking monetary compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages. The burden of proof is always on the plaintiff in an east Tennessee slip and fall case, however, and being successful at trial can be a very challenging task.

A seasoned personal injury attorney can help the injured person navigate the difficulties and potential pitfalls of a premises liability case seeking compensation for injuries suffered in a fall or other accident on a landowner or business’ property.

Facts of the Case

In an east Tennessee car accident in which someone is seriously hurt, the proper party to bring the action is usually obvious:  the accident victim himself (or herself). When someone is killed in an auto accident, however, there can sometimes be a dispute about who should be allowed to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. The resolution of this issue can hinge on several factors, including the relationship between the deceased and those who seek to file suit. In some situations, other case-specific factors may also need to be considered.

Facts of the Case

In a recent consolidated action, one of the would-be plaintiffs was the surviving spouse of a woman who died in a car accident. As the husband of the deceased, this plaintiff insisted that he was the appropriate individual to assert a cause of action for the wrongful death of his late wife. The accident victim’s daughter also filed a wrongful death action, and the cases were consolidated. The Circuit Court of Sumner County held that the husband was the proper plaintiff and dismissed the daughter’s case. The Tennessee Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the daughter was the rightful plaintiff because there were allegations that the husband was at least partially to blame for the “road rage” incident that caused the wreck. After the daughter’s claim was reinstated by the appellate court, the husband appealed the case further to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

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