There are seven tort cases pending before the Tennessee Supreme Court. Here is a list of the cases and the summary of the holding of the Tennessee Court of Appeals (if applicable) in each case:
Style: Williams v. Smyrna Residential, LLC et al.
TSC Docket Number: M2021-00927-SC-R11-CV
Court of Appeals Opinion: https://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/james.williams.opn_.pdf
Summary by the Court of Appeals: This appeal concerns the enforceability of an arbitration agreement in a wrongful death lawsuit. James Williams (“Plaintiff”), individually as next of kin and on behalf of the wrongful death beneficiaries of Granville Earl Williams, Jr., deceased (“Decedent”), sued Smyrna Residential, LLC d/b/a Azalea Court and Americare Systems, Inc. (“Defendants,” collectively) in the Circuit Court for Rutherford County (“the Trial Court”). Decedent was a resident of Azalea Court, an assisted living facility. Plaintiff alleged his father died because of Defendants’ negligence. Defendants filed a motion to compel arbitration, citing an arbitration agreement (“the Agreement”) entered into by Decedent’s daughter and durable power of attorney Karen Sams (“Sams”) on behalf of Decedent when the latter was admitted to Azalea Court. Notably, the durable power of attorney (“the POA”) did not cover healthcare decision-making. The Trial Court held that Sams lacked authority to enter into the Agreement and that, in any event, the wrongful death beneficiaries would not be bound by the Agreement even if it were enforceable. Defendants appeal. We affirm.
John Day’s Estimate on Opinion Release Date: February, 2024
Style: Binns v. Trader Joe’s East, Inc.
TSC Docket Number: M2022-01033-SC-R11-CV
Court of Appeals Opinion: None
Summary by the Court of Appeals: None – Court of Appeals refused to hear a Rule 9 appeal of this matter.
Permission to Appeal Granted: January 11, 2023
Statement of the Issue by the Defendant: “[W]hether a plaintiff can assert direct negligence claims against an employer if the employer admits that it will be vicariously liable for the conduct of its employees under the doctrine of respondeat superior ?”
John Day’s Estimate on Opinion Release Date: May, 2024
Style: Charles v. McQueen
TSC Docket Number: M2021-00878-SC-R11-CV
Court of Appeals Opinion: https://tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/OpinionsPDFVersion/McQUEEN%20-Majority%20Opinion.pdf
Summary by the Court of Appeals: This case involves a lawsuit alleging claims of defamation and false light arising from an online review. In response to the lawsuit, the defendant filed a petition under the Tennessee Public Participation Act to dismiss the lawsuit. The trial court ultimately granted the petition and dismissed the case. For the reasons stated herein, we affirm in part and reverse in part.
John Day’s Estimate on Opinion Release Date: May, 2024
Style: Trentham v. Mid-America Apartments, LP et al.
TSC Docket Number: M2021-01511-SC-R11-CV
Court of Appeals Opinion: https://tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/OpinionsPDFVersion/Trentham%2C%20R%20-%20Opn%20Filed.pdf
Summary by the Court of Appeals: This appeal concerns premises liability. The plaintiff slipped and fell on a pedestrian bridge on the defendants’ property. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the plaintiff. The defendants appeal. We affirm.
John Day’s Estimate on Opinion Release Date: June, 2024
Style: Flade v. City of Shelbyville, Tennessee et al.
TSC Docket Number: M2022-00553-SC-R11-CV
Court of Appeals Opinion: https://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/OpinionsPDFVersion/Majority%20Opinion%202022-553-COA.pdf
Summary by the Court of Appeals: This appeal involves application of the Tennessee Public Participation Act (TPPA). Plaintiff filed multiple causes of action against the City of Shelbyville, the Bedford County Listening Project, and several individuals – one of whom is a member of the Shelbyville City Council. Defendants filed motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure 12.06, and two of the non-governmental Defendants also filed petitions for dismissal and relief under the TPPA. The non-governmental Defendants also moved the trial court to stay its discovery order with respect to Plaintiff’s action against the City. The trial court denied the motion. The non-governmental Defendants filed applications for permission for extraordinary appeal to this Court and to the Tennessee Supreme Court; those applications were denied. Upon remand to the trial court, Plaintiff voluntarily non-suited his action pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 41.01. The non-governmental Defendants filed motions to hear their TPPA petitions notwithstanding Plaintiff’s nonsuit. The trial court determined that Defendants’ TPPA petitions to dismiss were not justiciable following Plaintiff’s nonsuit under Rule 41.01. The Bedford County Listening Project and one individual Defendant, who is also a member of the Shelbyville City Council, appeal. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
John Day’s Estimate on Opinion Release Date: August, 2024
6. Style: Annie J. Jones, by and through her Conservatorship, Joyce Sons a/k/a Calisa Joyce Sons v. Life Care Centers of America d/b/a Life Care Center of Tullahoma
TSC Docket Number: M2022-00471-SC-R11-CV
Summary by the Court of Appeals: This appeal arises from an incident in which the nude body of a resident at an assisted living facility was exposed on a video call via telephone when an employee of the healthcare facility engaged in a personal call while assisting the resident in the shower. The resident, by and through her conservator/daughter (“Plaintiff”), sued the owner and operator of the healthcare facility, Life Care Centers of America d/b/a Life Care Center of Tullahoma (“Defendant”), asserting a claim of “Negligence Pursuant to the Tennessee Medical Malpractice Act” and a generalized claim for invasion of privacy with allegations of “Gross Negligence, Willful, Wanton, Reckless, Malicious and/or Intentional Misconduct.” Relying on the undisputed fact that the resident was unaware and never informed that the incident occurred, Defendant moved for summary judgment due to the lack of a cognizable injury or recoverable damages. Plaintiff opposed the motion, contending that actual damages were not an essential element of her claims and, in the alternative, moved to amend the complaint to specifically assert a claim for invasion of privacy based on intrusion upon the resident’s seclusion and a claim for negligent supervision. The trial court summarily dismissed the complaint on the ground “that damages for invasion of privacy . . . cannot be proven as it would be impossible to suffer from personal humiliation, mental anguish or similar damages since [the resident] is unaware that the incident happened” and denied the motion to amend the complaint on the basis of futility. Plaintiff appealed. We have determined that the gravamen of the complaint states a claim for invasion of privacy based upon the distinct tort of intrusion upon seclusion. We have also determined that actual damages are not an essential element of a claim for invasion of privacy based on the distinct tort of intrusion upon seclusion. Thus, Defendant was not entitled to summary judgment. Moreover, granting leave to amend the complaint would not have been futile. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s decision to summarily dismiss the complaint, reverse the decision to deny the motion to amend the complaint, and remand with instruction to reinstate the complaint, grant the motion to amend the complaint, and for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
John Day’s Estimate on Opinion Release Date: July, 2024
7. Style: Richards v. Vanderbilt University Medical Center
TSC Docket Number: M2022-00597-SC-R11-CV
Link to Trial Court Opinion: https://tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/OpinionsPDFVersion/Majority%20Opinion%202022-597-COA.pdf
Summary by Trial Court: This appeal concerns a complaint for health care liability. Although Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121(c) provides for an extension of the applicable statutes of limitations in health care liability actions when pre-suit notice is given, it also specifies that “[i]n no event shall this section operate to shorten or otherwise extend the statutes of limitations or repose applicable to any action asserting a claim for health care liability, nor shall more than one (1) extension be applicable to any [health care] provider.” After a prior lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed without prejudice, Plaintiff provided new pre-suit notice and refiled in reliance on the Tennessee saving statute and an extension under Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121(c). The trial court dismissed the refiled complaint with prejudice, however, holding, among other things, that Plaintiff could not utilize the statutory extension in his refiled action because he had already utilized a statutory extension in the first lawsuit. For the reasons discussed herein, we affirm the trial court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s lawsuit.
John Day’s Estimate on Opinion Release Date: November, 2024.