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Summary Judgment to Monument Company Reversed in Woman’s Tennessee Suit Claiming That Headstone Fell Over Onto Her Hand While She Was Placing Flowers

A Knoxville negligence case is based on a simple proposition. If one person owes a duty of care to another and a breach of that duty is the proximate cause of harm, the responsible individual (or business) is liable for the other’s damages.

A personal injury case can take many forms, such as a car accident suit, a medical malpractice claim, a product liability case, or a premises liability lawsuit. These are “typical” negligence cases, but sometimes other, more unusual circumstances can also give rise to a claim for negligence.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a personal injury case filed in the Circuit Court for Hamilton County was a woman who was allegedly injured when a headstone fell over onto her hand while she was setting some flowers on her brother’s grave. According to the plaintiff, the accident was severe enough to fracture several bones in her hand and necessitate her having surgery. The injuries also caused her a great deal of pain and suffering. The plaintiff’s complaint against the defendant monument company asserted that the defendant had been negligent in the construction, placement, and maintenance of her brother’s gravestone. The complaint further alleged that the defendant had either created the unsafe condition that led to her injuries or should have been aware of the unsafe condition.

The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint on summary judgment, arguing (among other things) that the plaintiff’s injury was not foreseeable and that there was no evidence that the defendant’s conduct was to blame for the accident. The trial court found in the defendant’s favor and granted summary judgment to the defendant.

The Appellate Court’s Decision

The Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Knoxville reversed the trial court’s order granting summary judgment to the defendant and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings. In the appellate court’s view, the plaintiff had pointed to certain facts and evidence in the record that could allow a rational trier of fact to conclude that the defendant’s negligence in installing the headstone was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries and to resolve the case in her favor. In so holding, the court noted that the plaintiff had provided evidence to the effect that the putty that the defendant had used during its installation of the gravestone may not have been appropriate under the circumstances.

The court noted that its opinion was limited to the portion of the plaintiff’s case that related to the defendant’s alleged negligence in installing the monument and not to any other allegations concerning the defendant’s liability for the plaintiff’s injuries.

To Talk to a Lawyer About a Personal Injury Case

There seems to be no shortage of ways in which one person can be hurt by another’s negligence. If you have been hurt because someone else was careless, you owe it to yourself to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney. For an appointment with the Hartsoe Law Firm, call us at 865-524-5657 or use the “contact us” section of this website. There is no charge to meet with us, and most cases are accepted on a contingency fee (we get paid when your case settles or a judgment is entered, rather than upfront).

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