Articles Posted in Damages

When calculating post-judgment interest, the statutory rate in effect when the judgment is entered applies for the entire time period between entry of the judgment and its payment.

In Coffey v. Coffey, No. E2021-00433-COA-R3-CV, 2022 WL 1085039 (Tenn. Ct. App. April 11, 2022), plaintiff had won a large judgment against defendant based on breach of fiduciary duty and conversion. Defendant appealed the judgment, but it was affirmed by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court denied review. The case then went back to the trial court for calculation of post-judgment interest.

The trial court used the interest rate calculated by the Administrative Office of the Courts based on Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-14-121 for January 13, 2020, the day the judgment was entered. The court applied that rate as the post-judgment interest rate for the entire period at issue, which was January 13, 2020 through April 26, 2021. In this appeal, defendant argued that a different interest rate should have been used for a portion of this time period, as the statutory interest rate fluctuated, but the Court of Appeals rejected this argument and affirmed the trial court’s calculation.

Where the evidence clearly established the elements of intent and malice in an inducement of breach of contract case, summary judgment for plaintiff was affirmed. Moreover, the trial court’s ruling that plaintiff could recover attorney’s fees as compensatory damages under the independent tort theory was also affirmed.

In HCTEC Partners, LLC v. Crawford, No. M2020-01373-COA-R3-CV, 2022 WL 554288 (Tenn. Ct. App. Feb. 24, 2022), plaintiff was the former employer of defendant Crawford, who had worked for plaintiff in healthcare information technology recruitment. When Crawford was hired by plaintiff, he signed a “Confidentiality, Non-Competition, and Non-Solicitation Agreement,” which, among other things, provided that he would not work in the same field for 12 months after leaving plaintiff’s employment.

Defendant Rezult made Crawford a job offer while he was still working for plaintiff, which Crawford accepted. Plaintiff communicated to Rezult and Crawford about the Agreement, but Crawford was nonetheless placed in a position that involved healthcare information technology recruiting. Plaintiff thereafter brought this suit asserting breach of contract against Crawford and inducement of breach of contract against Rezult. After entering an injunction, the trial court granted plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment against both defendants, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

Colorado’s highest court has ruled that in cases involving an unemancipated minor child, either the child or the child’s parents may recover the child’s pre-majority medical expenses  Double recovery is not permitted.  The case is Rudnicki v. Bianco.

The Tennessee will be holding oral argument soon on a related issue in Borngne ex rel Hyter v. Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority.  

NOTE:  The link to the Borngne  case is a link to the status of case provided by my new site, www.birddoglaw.com.  BirdDog Law provides multiple free resources to Tennessee lawyers, one of which is “Status of Cases Pending Before the Tennessee Supreme Court.”

Defendants could not introduce evidence to rebut the presumption that plaintiff’s medical bills were reasonable when that evidence violated the collateral source rule. In Doty v. City of Johnson City, No. E2020-00054-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. July 7, 2021), plaintiff was riding in a car when she was hit by a tractor being driving by an employee of defendant. Defendant admitted liability, so the only issue was the amount of damages.

The accident caused plaintiff to need shoulder surgery (she had previously had two other shoulder surgeries), and she was under a doctor’s care for nine months following the accident.

Continue reading

Where there was material evidence to support the jury’s verdict which failed to award plaintiff damages for medical expenses related to his shoulder injury, the verdict was affirmed. In Almuawi v. Gregory, No. M2020-01018-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. June 2, 2021), plaintiff and defendant were involved in a car accident when plaintiff was rear-ended by defendant. Defendant admitted liability, so the only issue at trial was the amount of damages to be awarded to plaintiff. Plaintiff’s complaint sought $200,000, including $27,870.21 in medical expenses, $539 for replacement of his eye glasses, and the remainder for “past pain and suffering and his loss of the ability to enjoy life.”

After a two-day jury trial, the jury returned a verdict awarding plaintiff a total of $13,796.21, which included $8,257.21 in medical expenses, $539 for eye glasses, and $5,000 in noneconomic damages. Notably, the jury award did not include over $15,000 in expenses plaintiff incurred while being treated by a chiropractor for a labral tear to his right shoulder. Plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial or, in the alternative, for additur, which the trial court denied. On appeal, the jury’s verdict and the denial of the motion for a new trial was affirmed by the Court of Appeals.

When the Court of Appeals is reviewing a jury verdict, it is “required to take the strongest legitimate view of all the evidence in favor of the verdict, assume the truth of all evidence that supports the verdict, allowing all reasonable inferences to sustain the verdict, and to discard all countervailing evidence,” approving the verdict if “there is any material evidence to support the award.” (internal citations omitted). The issue here was whether the jury properly excluded damages for costs related to plaintiff’s shoulder injury, an injury for which defendant denied responsibility. The evidence at trial showed that the accident occurred on March 8, 2017, and that plaintiff did not complain of shoulder pain until almost a month later on April 5th. On the day of the accident, plaintiff’s medical records showed that he “complained of pain in his left knee, neck/back, and the left side of his face.” The next day, he mentioned pain in his “neck, mid-back, and left knee.” One week after the accident, he visited his doctor and complained of “low back pain, neck pain, and left knee pain.” The first mention of shoulder pain was a note from a physical therapist on April 5th, but at a doctor’s appointment two days later plaintiff did not complain of shoulder pain.

When an injured plaintiff’s spouse asserts a loss of consortium claim, the noneconomic damages cap found in Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-39-102 “allows both plaintiffs to recover only $750,000 in the aggregate for noneconomic damages.” In Yebuah v. Center for Urological Treatment, PLC, No. M2018-01652-SC-R11-CV (Tenn. June 2, 2021), plaintiffs filed an HCLA claim after plaintiff wife’s surgeon left a medical device in her abdominal cavity while removing her kidney, causing her pain and chronic inflammation until the device was discovered during an unrelated procedure eight years later. The jury had awarded plaintiff wife $4,000,000 in pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life damages, and awarded $500,000 in damages to plaintiff husband for loss of consortium. The trial court originally ruled that the damages in total would be reduced to $750,000 pursuant to the damages cap, but then amended the ruling and held that the cap should be applied to each plaintiff separately, meaning that the wife would receive $750,000 and husband would receive $500,000. The Court of Appeals affirmed this application of the damages cap.

During this appeal to the Supreme Court, the facts of the case were not at issue. The only issue here was how Tennessee’s cap on noneconomic damages should be applied when the injured plaintiff is seeking noneconomic damages and his or her spouse is also pursuing a loss of consortium claim (but not a claim for personal injuries).

Continue reading

When an HCLA plaintiff was awarded a verdict for her health care liability claims and her husband was awarded damages for loss of consortium, the trial court correctly considered the plaintiffs separately for the purpose of applying the statutory cap on noneconomic damages.  FIRST PUBLISHED IN JUNE 2020.  SEE UPDATE BELOW.

In Yebuah v. Center for Urological Treatment, No. M2018-01652-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. May 28, 2020), plaintiff had surgery to remove a cancerous kidney in 2005. A CT scan was done four months after surgery, and the radiologist reported no signs of cancer. The radiology report on a subsequent CT scan noted a “tubular structure” within plaintiff’s abdominal cavity, but plaintiff’s treating physician “did not read the reference to the foreign object.” Seven years later, plaintiff required gallbladder surgery due to severe abdominal pain. During that surgery, it was discovered that a “part of a gelport device” had been left inside plaintiff during her 2005 kidney surgery. Plaintiff required another surgery to have the device removed.

Continue reading

Where defendant admitted liability for a car accident but denied that the accident caused plaintiff’s alleged injuries, a jury verdict for defendant was affirmed where there was material evidence showing that the accident was minor, evidence showed plaintiff had a history of back and/or neck pain, and plaintiff’s expert witness admitted that “she based her opinion on purely subjective findings[.]”

In Bell v. Roberts, No. M2018-02126-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. July 8, 2020), plaintiff, a 70-year-old woman, filed suit after her vehicle was rear ended by a car driven by defendant. Defendant admitted fault, but he denied that the accident caused any injury to plaintiff.

During a jury trial, plaintiff, defendant, plaintiff’s doctor, and the police officer who responded to the accident testified. Plaintiff stated that she drove herself to the ER after the accident, and “scans of her spine showed changes consistent with degenerative disc disease.” After the medicine prescribed at the ER failed to alleviate her neck pain, she went to her doctor 15 days later and was given “additional pain relief measures and physical therapy.” Plaintiff admitted that she had a history of degenerative disc disease and back surgery, but she stated that she had never had neck pain before the accident. On cross examination, however, defense counsel pointed out that her testimony about previous pain was different in her deposition. Plaintiff also admitted that she did not complain about neck pain to her doctor past April 2016, although she maintained that she did not fully recover.

Continue reading

An award for future medical expenses in a personal injury claim under Tennessee law may be appropriate even where the plaintiff does not establish with “absolute certainty” that the future treatment will be pursued, as the standard for such an award is “reasonable certainty.”

In Kirby v. Memphis Light Gas & Water, No. W2017-02390-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. April 29, 2019), plaintiff was in a car accident with one of defendant’s drivers. After a bench trial, the judge assigned plaintiff 30% of the fault and awarded him $105,000 in damages, which included an award for future medical expenses to cover a prospective surgery. On appeal, defendant argued that the award for future medical expenses was speculative, and that plaintiff had failed to mitigate his damages by stopping treatment when he did. The Court of Appeals affirmed the damages award.

Continue reading

Under the discovery rule, a plaintiff’s cause of action for property damage may “not necessarily accrue at the moment they knew they had sustained injury.” Instead, the statute of limitations will not begin to run until they “knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care and diligence should have known, that an injury was sustained as a result of wrongful or tortious conduct by the defendant.” (internal citation omitted).

In Roles-Walter v. Kidd, No. M2017-01417-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. April 24, 2018), plaintiff had purchased a commercial building next to buildings owned by defendants. Plaintiff alleged that beginning in December 2012, she “began to have issues with rain water form the adjacent alleyway flooding their building.” Plaintiff alleged in her complaint that “upon examination by [plaintiff] and subsequently by professionals in this area,” it was determined that the water issues were being caused by water coming off defendants’ buildings roofs, and that defendants had refused to “take any responsibility for the damage…and/or take any actions intended to remedy the water issues.” Plaintiff accordingly filed this lawsuit on November 1, 2016.

Defendants moved to dismiss based on the statute of limitations, which the trial court granted, but the Court of Appeals reversed.

Continue reading

Contact Information