Articles Posted in Miscellaneous

A Tennessee plaintiff asserting a claim for invasion of privacy based on intrusion upon seclusion was not required to show actual damages, as actual damages are not an essential element of an intrusion upon seclusion claim.

In Jones v. Life Care Centers of America d/b/a Life Care Center of Tullahoma, No. M2022-00471-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. May 16, 2023), plaintiff was a resident at defendant nursing home, and she brought this case through her conservator based on her naked body being exposed during a video call made by a nursing home employee. Plaintiff, who was cognitively limited, was being assisted in showering by defendant’s employees. One of the employees received a video call from her boyfriend, who was incarcerated, and the employee propped the phone on a shelf and continued helping plaintiff. During the call, plaintiff’s naked body was seen on the video feed. A sheriff’s department employee was monitoring the phone call and noticed that plaintiff could be seen, and defendant was accordingly alerted. Although plaintiff was admittedly unaware that she had been exposed, and never became aware, her daughter/ conservator was informed, and this suit was filed.

Plaintiff’s initial complaint asserted a claim of “Negligence Pursuant to the Tennessee Medical Malpractice Act” and a general claim for invasion of privacy. After defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, plaintiff filed a motion seeking to amend her complaint to assert claims for invasion of privacy based on intrusion upon seclusion and negligent supervision. The trial court granted summary judgment to defendant, finding that plaintiff could not “prove the existence of any cognizable injury or damages from the incident,” and it denied plaintiff’s motion to amend, ruling that a claim for invasion of privacy requires actual damages and thus the amendment would be futile. On appeal, those rulings were reversed.

One thing you can do to become a great trial lawyer is to listen to great trial lawyers speak about the profession.

The American College of Trial Lawyers has a podcast that does just that.  The podcast will be starting its sixth season this summer, but there are over 20 podcasts of great trial lawyers already available.

The most recent podcast interviewed Tennessee’s own J. Houston Gordon.

Where plaintiff alleged that her son’s body was buried in the wrong place within a cemetery and brought several claims, including negligent mishandling of a dead human body, against defendant funeral home, summary judgment for the funeral home was affirmed based on the finding that the funeral home “had no common law duty to direct or supervise the burial and disposition” of the body and that the funeral home “conformed to the reasonable person standard of care under all of the circumstances.”

In Mathes v. N.J. Ford and Sons Funeral Home, Inc., No. W2021-00368-COA-R3-CV, 2023 WL 117729 (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 6, 2023), plaintiff asserted claims for mishandling of her dead son’s body. Plaintiff had purchased an interment plot from the cemetery prior to her son’s passing and had executed certain documents related to that purchase. One such document provided that “all interments and disinterments…shall be made only by [the Cemetery] unless otherwise approved by cemetery company.” The cemetery and funeral home were not related to each other in any way.

After the son’s death, plaintiff contracted with defendant funeral home to handle the funeral and body preparation. Plaintiff also signed an additional authorization with the cemetery and went to view the pre-selected plot at the cemetery.

I strongly encourage you to add “Trial Tested” to your list of podcasts.

“Trial Tested” is a podcast sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers.  It “presents enlightening discussions about life and law through interviews with prominent trial lawyers and significant figures in the world of trial law.”  The interviewees are accomplished trial lawyers (with a couple of non-lawyers thrown in for good measure) interviewed by one of three College Fellows –   Amy Gunn, Mike Herring, or Dave Paul.

Click here to see a list of the podcasts offered to date.   Tennessee’s own Mike Cody is interviewed for today’s podcast.


As 2022 comes to a close, here is a brief summary of the cases pending before the Tennessee Supreme Court.

There are twenty civil cases pending before the Court.  The “oldest” pending cases (calculated from the date of oral argument) are Gardner and Ultsch – both cases were argued April 6, 2022.  Review of the Mathes case was just accepted December 15.  Click here for a full list of pending civil cases, the subject matter involved, and their status.

There are ten criminal cases pending before the Court.  The “oldest” pending cases (once again calculated from the date of oral argument) are Forest  and Lyons – both cases were argued April 6, 2022. Review of the Dotson case was granted October 25.  Click here for a full list of pending civil cases, the subject matter involved, and their status.

When appealing a trial court’s order dismissing or refusing to dismiss a case under the Tennessee Public Protection Act (TPPA), the appeal “must be filed within thirty days of the entry of that order.”

In Laferney v. Livesay, No. E2021-00812-COA-R3-CV, 2022 WL 14199150 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 25, 2022), plaintiff filed multiple tort claims against multiple defendants, including libel claims against certain defendants based on their social media statements related to the death of a dog who died while in the care of plaintiff’s dog training business. The libel defendants filed motions to dismiss pursuant to the TPPA, which the trial court granted on December 10, 2020. The trial court also found that “the TPPA requires an award of attorney’s fees when an action is dismissed under that chapter” and it asked the prevailing parties’ attorneys to submit fee affidavits within fifteen days of the entry of the dismissal order. The trial court then entered an order awarding some attorneys’ fees on March 5, 2021, then due to some late filing, entered another order regarding attorneys’ fees on June 24, 2021. Plaintiff appealed the TPPA dismissal from that June 24th order.

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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.

A new decision of the Tennessee Court of Appeals, Southern Steel & Concrete, Inc. v. Southern Steel & Construction, Inc.,  No. W2020-00475-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 14, 2022), summarizes Tennessee’s law on alter ego issues.

Here is some key language from the opinion (all of the language in bold is quoted from the opinion):

           In Oceanics Schools, Inc. v. Barbour, 112 S.W.3d 135, 145 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2003),this Court provided a “blueprint of factors” to be considered when addressing an alter ego issue. Boles v. Nat’l Dev. Co. Inc., 175 S.W.3d 226, 245 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2005). We explained that blueprint as follows:

Where plaintiff gave her husband permission to sign her name to an indemnity agreement in conjunction with obtaining insurance bonds, and plaintiff’s husband had the opportunity to read the indemnity agreement and discover its contents, summary judgment on plaintiff’s negligent misrepresentation claim against the insurance agent who allegedly stated that the indemnity agreement did not include plaintiff’s personal property was affirmed.

In King v. Bradley, No. E2021-00261-COA-R3-CV, 2022 WL 678568 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 8, 2022), plaintiff’s husband and step-son owned a commercial electrical contracting business. In conjunction with a work project, the business was required to obtain performance and payment bonds. Defendant was the insurance agent who assisted in obtaining these bonds, and in conjunction with getting the bonds, plaintiff, plaintiff’s husband, plaintiff’s step-son, and the business were required to sign an indemnity agreement. Plaintiff was not present when the indemnity agreement was to be signed, but she gave her husband verbal permission over the phone to sign her name. According to plaintiff, she told her husband that she did not care what he signed her name to “as long as we’re not putting up our personal stuff.” Plaintiff asserted that defendant was asked whether any personal property, as opposed to business property, was covered by the indemnity agreement, to which he responded that it was not. Plaintiff’s husband signed the indemnity agreement without reading it or having an attorney review it.

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