Articles Posted in Legislation 2011

Tennessee personal injury lawyers know that the Tennessee General Assembly is a far different place than it used to be.  The Legislature is determined to change the rules of tort litigation for the benefit of defendants and those who would be defendants. 

What follows is a list of legislation enacted during the 2012 session that has been signed by the Governor and is available on the Tennessee Secretary of State’s website as of Friday, May 4, 2012. I know that there are other bills that have been passed but have not yet found their way to the Secretary of State’s site.  I will post on those public acts when they become available.

  •  Public Chapter 506 requires that institutions of higher learning do background checks on those who have access to student rooms at those institutions. (This was passed in the last legislative session but I did not include it on last year’s list.)
  • Public Chapter 518 impacts the defense of "unclean hands."
  • Public Chapter 539 exempts ambulances for certain requirements imposed on certain medical transportation companies.
  • Public Chapter 552 creates a cause of action for those injured or otherwise harmed by mislabeled sorghum molasses.  Really. 
  • Public Chapter 568 requires that all recreational vehicles available for rental or lease have functioning carbon monoxide detectors and provides that the failure to do so gives rise to civil liability, including payment of attorney’s fees.
  • Public Chapter 613 creates a cause of action for victims of human trafficking offenses.
  • Public Chapter 649 allows nursing homes to employ physicians. 
  • Public Chapter 678 provides that physician’s assistants may not be subpoenaed to trial but may be required to give a deposition.
  • Public Chapter 798 appears to be a house-keeping Act that primarily deletes reference to "medical malpractice" and substitutes the language "health care liability action." 
  • Public Chapter 844 enacts "Jaclyn’s Law," which grants civil immunity to first responders in certain circumstances involving entry into homes.

Public Chapter 862 limits the liability of whitewater rafting companies.

Fortunately, things are so good in Tennessee that the General Assembly has seen fit to take time to limit the responsibility of bovine owners.  For you city folk, cows, buffaloes and oxen are known as bovines.  

The new law,  codified at T.C.A.Sec. 44-21-101 et seq provides that "no  person  shall  make  any  claim against,  maintain  an  action  against,  or  recover from  a  bovine owner for  injury,  loss, damage, or death of the person  resulting from the inherent risks of bovine activities" unless the bovine owner:
 
(1)  Fails  to  post  and  maintain  warning  signs  pursuant  to  §  44-21- 104(a); 

The Tennessee General Assemby has made it more difficult to bring worker’s compensation cases when the injured employee tests positive for the presence of alcohol or other drugs.

Under current T.C.A. Sec. 50-6-110 if an injured employee has a positive (within defined limits) blood test  it is presumed that the use of  alcohol or other drug was the cause of the injury.  However, that presumption can be rebutted by other evidence.

Public Chapter 203  raises the burden of proof  on the employee in such cases from "preponderance of the evidence" to "clear and convincing."

The Tennessee General Assembly has passed new legislation designed to enhance the safety of bicycle riders.  The legislation is Public Chapter 192 and will come into effect on July 1, 2011.

The new legislation arms those representing bicycle wreck victims with a basis for asserting negligence per se against defendant drivers.

Among the bills passed by the Tennessee General Assembly is Public Chapter 130, a bill that dramatically changes the law applicable to the business of insurance.

The legislation repeals the ability of consumers to sue an insurance company under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act or any other statutory provision other than the limited rights extended to consumers in the insurance section of the Code.

For reasons I cannot explain, I cannot provide a link to the legislation.  You can find it on the Tennessee Secretary of State’s website.

The tort reform package developed by a coalition of business interests and promoted by the Republican Party has passed the Tennessee House and Senate.  The bill was aggressively promoted by the Governor’s Office and thus will be signed into law in the next few days.

The Legislation creates many changes to the law, but here are a few low points:

  • Changes to venue rules that will limit the places where corporations can be sued.
  • Expands the notion of medical malpractice cases to capture all claims against nursing homes.
  • Caps non-economic damages to $750,000 in most cases and $1,000,000 in rare cases.
  • Limits the bond that must be posted on appeal for losing defendants.
  • Eliminates the need to post a bond on punitive damages.
  • Limits the imposition of punitive damages.
  • Removes securities claims from the TCPA.
  • Removes the ability of consumers to bring TCPA claims for other than certain listed unfair and deceptive acts.
  • Offers increased protections to manufacturers of products

The legislation applies to causes of action that accrue after October 1, 2011.  I will post a copy of the bill in its final form next week.

 The Tennessee General Assembly has adopted rule changes proposed by the Tennessee Supreme Court.  This is one of multiple posts discussing the new rules of most interest to tort lawyers.

Rule 26 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure has been changed to increase the disclosures required for expert witnesses.  The new rule requires that 

the party shall disclose the witness’s qualifications ( including a list of all publications authored in the previous ten years), a list of all other cases in which. during the previous four vears, the witness testified  as an expert. and a statement of the compensation to be  paid  for the  study and  testimony in the case.

The Tennessee General Assembly has adopted rule changes proposed by the Tennessee Supreme Court.  This is one of multiple posts discussing the new rules of most interest to tort lawyers.

Rule 611 of the Tennessee Rules of Evidence has been changed to permit leading questions to be asked of a witness on direct examination if the witness is  "identified with an adverse party."  Previously, the rule permitted leading questions on direct of adverse parties or hostile witnesses.

Here is a copy of the new rule.  It goes into effect July 1, 2011.