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ATO, the Sequel: Western Section Again Breathes New Life into Suit Against Fraternity

DAVEY MANN and wife, TERESA MANN v. ALPHA TAU OMEGA FRATERNITY, Inc., a non-profit organization, ET AL.
Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Gary K. Smith, J. Mark Benfield, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, Davey Mann and wife, Teresa Mann

G. Coble Caperton, Mary L. Wagner, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity, Inc.

Judge: HIGHERS

Plaintiffs sued the defendant national fraternity, among others, following an automobile accident with an apparent fraternity pledge. The trial court granted summary judgment to the national fraternity finding that it owed no duty of care to Plaintiffs, and it denied Plaintiffs’ motion to amend to allege the national fraternity’s vicarious liability based upon a principal/agent relationship between the national fraternity and the local fraternity chapter and/or between the national fraternity and local fraternity chapter members/prospective members. For the following reasons, we reverse the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the national fraternity as well as its denial of Plaintiffs’ motion to amend, and we remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

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Workers’ Comp Bill Set For Finance Consideration

The administration’s bill to overhaul Tennessee's Workers’ Compensation system (SB 200 by Norris / HB 194 by McCormick) is set for its next major legislative consideration this week. Both the Senate and House Finance Committees are expected to take up consideration of the matter, and review, in particular, its fiscal impact. Fiscal estimates for the bill have indicated that the state expects to collect filing fees that now go to court clerks, and that those fees are expected to be sufficient to offset the cost of the new department-based system. As amended, the new legislation would be effective as to cases commenced on or after July 1, 2014. The TBA has continued to emphasize that a change to a more formulaic, purely administrative system is unwise because it does not employ our best dispute resolution mechanism -- the courts -- and does not permit enough discretion to prevent injustice.

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AG to Defend State Damage Limits in Meningitis Lawsuit

Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper has filed a motion to intervene and defend state law that caps damages in civil cases, The Nashville Ledger reports. A lawsuit filed by the husband of a Brentwood woman who died after getting fungal meningitis from tainted steroid injections seeks $12.5 million in compensatory damages, well above the maximum $750,000 that plaintiffs can receive under a 2011 Tennessee law. A hearing on the state’s request was heard this morning in Davidson County Circuit Court.

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Suggestion of Death Triggers Case's Dismissal

PEGGY DOBBINS, AS CONSERVATOR OF THE ESTATE OF FRANK BAILEY, JR. V. GERALD S. GREEN, ET AL.
Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Gerald S. Green, Memphis, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Julian T. Bolton and JoeDae L. Jenkins, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Peggy Dobbins.

Jay A. Ebelhar and Nolan Johnson, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, CitiFinancial Services, Inc.

Douglas A. Black, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, Regions Bank and Regions Financial Corporations.

James R. Newson, III, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, Springleaf Financial Services, Inc. f/k/a American General Financial Services, Inc.

Michael G. McLaren and Courtney C. McLaren, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Fidelity & Deposit Company of Maryland.

Judge: STAFFORD

This is a Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 25.01 case. Following plaintiff’s death and the filing of a suggestion of death in the trial court, no motion to substitute party was made within the ninety day time period set out in Rule 25.01. The trial court determined that the failure to file a motion for substitution of party was not the result of excusable neglect and granted the Rule 25.01 motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The court subsequently also granted the plaintiff’s motion for voluntary dismissal under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 41.01. We conclude that, in the absence of excusable neglect, failure to comply with Rule 25.01 requires mandatory dismissal of the case with prejudice and the lawsuit may not thereafter be revived by the filing of a motion for voluntary dismissal. Reversed and remanded.

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Western Section Intercedes in Legal Fee Dispute Involving Two Plaintiff's Firms

HILL BOREN, P.C. v. PATY, RYMER and ULIN, P.C. and JAMES ERIC HAMM
Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

R. Sadler Bailey, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Hill Boren, P.C.

Selma Cash Paty, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Paty, Rymer & Ulin, P.C.

John W. Chandler, Jr., Chattanooga, TN, for the appellee, James Eric Hamm.

Judge: HIGHERS

This appeal involves a dispute over an attorney’s fee involving two law firms and their client. The parties originally entered into a contract whereby both law firms would jointly represent the client as a plaintiff in a personal injury suit. Two years later, the client discharged one of the law firms. The other firm continued to represent the client, and when the case settled over a year later, the remaining firm retained the entire contingency fee. The discharged firm sued the client and the other firm, alleging that it was entitled to a share of the contingency fee and asserting numerous causes of action. The defendants claimed that the discharged firm was limited to quantum meruit. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants on all claims. The plaintiff law firm appeals. We affirm.

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Workers Comp Bill Moves to Full Committee

Gov. Bill Haslam's plan to overhaul the state workers' comp system is moving forward after a House subcommittee approved the measure. With that action, the bill heads to the full House Consumer and Human Resources Committee, where it is scheduled to be considered on March 12, according to the Nashville Business Journal. The subcommittee meeting took an interesting turn when the chair of the full committee was heard on a live microphone saying he planned to ram the bill through. The Nashville Scene has those remarks.

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Error in Allowing Time Barred Acts of Negligence Before a Jury Result in Reversal of Verdict by Western Section

ISLAND PROPERTIES ASSOCIATES v. THE REAVES FIRM, INC., d/b/a REAVES, SWEENEY, AND MARCUM, ET AL.
Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

William M. Jeter and Meredith A. Lucas, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, The Reaves Firm.

Richard Glassman, and Lewis W. Lyons, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Island Properties Associates.

Judge: STAFFORD

This is a surveyor negligence case. Appellee developer filed suit against Appellant surveyor, claiming two distinct acts of negligence on surveyor’s part. The first claim of negligence involved an error allegedly made by surveyor in a 1993 survey. The second claim of negligence involved Appellee’s claim that, upon discovering the 1993 survey error in a subsequent survey that it performed in 2002, surveyor had a duty to inform Appellee of the error. We conclude that any negligence arising from the 1993 survey claim is barred by the statute of repose, Tennessee Code Annotated Section 28-3-114(a). Despite Appellant’s numerous motions to exclude this cause of action as time barred, the trial court ultimately allowed the 1993 negligent survey claim to be tried to the jury. The jury was then instructed as to both claims of negligence and the jury returned a verdict, wherein it found Appellant surveyor to be forty percent at fault and awarded damages in favor of Appellee. Appellant surveyor appeals. Because the jury was improperly instructed and was allowed to consider the time-barred claim of negligence, we conclude that the jury was mislead by the instructions. Accordingly, we vacate the judgment on the jury verdict and remand for a new trial. Vacated and remanded.

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MUST READ: A Divided Middle Section Considers Extracontractual Liability Following Contested Coverage Denial

WENDY LEVERETTE, ET AL. v. TENNESSEE FARMERS MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY
Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Michael Ross Campbell, Lauren Michelle Rutherford, Chattanooga, Tennessee; Patrick Arnold Flynn, Seth Michael Lasater, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company.

Richard Thomas Matthews, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellee, Wendy Leverette, et al.

Judge: COTTRELL

A woman who was severely injured in a collision with an automobile driven by an unlicensed minor filed suit against the minor. The minor’s parents’ insurance company denied coverage and refused to defend the suit on the basis of an exclusion in the insurance policy for damages caused by a party driving without permission of the owner or a person “in lawful possession” of the vehicle. No defense was offered, and the injured party obtained a $1 million default judgment against the minor driver. The injured party and the minor’s parents then jointly filed suit against the insurance company, alleging that the insurance company was liable for breach of contract, bad faith, violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, and violation of the Unfair Claims Practices Act based upon its denial of coverage. The trial court ruled that, as a matter of law, the minor was entitled to insurance coverage under her parents’ policy at the time of the accident. The remainder of the case was tried, and the plaintiffs were awarded compensatory and punitive damages on the bad faith claim. The jury also found the insurance company had violated the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, and the trial court trebled the compensatory damages and awarded attorney fees under the Act. The insurance company has raised a number of issues in this appeal, inter alia, the grant of partial summary judgment to the plaintiffs on the question of coverage; the finding of liability for bad faith, the liability and enhanced penalty under the TCPA, and the requirement that plaintiffs should make an election between the punitive damages and the enhanced damages. We affirm the breach of contract holding, including the conclusion that the policy terms provided coverage. We reverse and vacate the holding of liability for bad faith, including the award of punitive damages thereunder, since the statutory cause of action was not plead. We also reverse the award of treble damages under the TCPA, but affirm the finding of a violation of the Act. We affirm as modified the award of attorneys’ fees.

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Saint Thomas Blames FDA for Meningitis Outbreak

Lawyers for Saint Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgery Center are blaming officials with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state officials for last year's fatal outbreak of fungal meningitis, The Tennessean reports. The center says the FDA failed to make findings available that showed the New England Compounding Center -- which supplied the tainted injections -- was out of compliance with regulations. It also argues that the Tennessee Health Department was responsible for any delays in notifying patients of the outbreak.

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Dismissal After Trial of Passenger Claims Against City Bus is Affirmed by Eastern Section

MARY SUE COOK V. EAST TENNESSEE HUMAN RESOURCE AGENCY, INC., ET. AL.
Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Ronald J. Attanasio, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mary Sue Cook.

Nathan D. Rowell and Brian R. Bibb, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, East Tennessee Human Resource Agency, Inc.

Judge: MCCLARTY

This is a negligence case in which Passenger sued ETHRA and Driver for injuries she sustained when exiting an ETHRA public transit vehicle. The trial court dismissed the claim against Driver but denied ETHRA’s motion for summary judgment. Following a bench trial, the court dismissed the claim against ETHRA, holding that Passenger failed to prove that Driver was negligent. Passenger appeals. We affirm the decision of the trial court.

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UM Carrier's Liability is Derived from That of Tortfeasor--Procedural Defenses of the Latter Can Protect the Former, Per Western Section

RICHARD LIPUT v. BOBBY GRINDER
Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Richard Liput, Savannah, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Colin M. McCaffrey, Goodlettsville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State Auto Mutual Insurance Company.

Judge: STAFFORD

Appellant appeals the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the Appellee uninsured motorist carrier for failure to properly and timely serve the alleged tortfeasor. After a careful review of the record, we affirm.

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Judge Rules Companies Can’t Sue Feds over 2010 Flood

U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell dismissed three lawsuits that accused federal agencies of negligence during the 2010 Nashville flood, ruling that the government has legal immunity under a 1928 federal flood control law. The Tennessean reports that Gaylord Entertainment Co. (now Ryman Hospitality Properties), Gibson Guitar, Nissan North America and several other companies sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Weather Service last year for acting negligently and inadequately communicating with each other before and during the storm. The government sought to have the suits dismissed, asserting that federal agencies are legally protected when they make discretionary decisions based on public policy considerations.

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Supreme Court Restores Verdict Against Nursing Home Based on Understaffing

RHEAETTA F. WILSON ET AL. v. AMERICARE SYSTEMS, INC. ET AL.
Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys:

Clarence James Gideon, Jr., and Alan S. Bean, Nashville, Tennessee, and Raymond W. Fraley, Jr., Fayetteville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Rheaetta F. Wilson and Lauralyn F. Watson.

Roger W. Dickson, Chattanooga, Tennessee, and David L. Johnson, Nashville, Tennessee, (on appeal); Thomas Pinckney and Susan D. Bass, Nashville, Tennessee, (at trial) for the appellee, Americare Systems, Inc.

Judge: LEE

The issue presented is whether the jury verdict against the management company of an assisted living facility for negligence based on understaffing is supported by material evidence. Mable Farrar’s physician prescribed Ms. Farrar a daily dose of an over-the-counter medicine for constipation. The nursing staff at the assisted living facility where Ms. Farrar lived did not give the medicine to her as often as prescribed. As a result, Ms. Farrar became constipated and returned to see her doctor. Ms. Farrar’s doctor notified the nursing staff at the assisted living facility to give Ms. Farrar three to four enemas each day beginning on May 27, 2004. A facility nurse gave Ms. Farrar one enema on the evening of May 27, none on May 28, and one enema on the evening of May 29. Very soon after receiving the last enema on May 29, Ms. Farrar died from a perforated colon. Her daughters filed a wrongful death action against the nurse who gave the enema, the director of nursing at the assisted living facility, the owner of the facility, and its management company. The suit alleged that the negligence of the staff, the owner, and its management company caused Ms. Farrar’s death. The jury returned a verdict finding the nurse thirty percent at fault, the director of nursing twenty percent at fault, and the management company fifty percent at fault based on its failure to provide sufficient personnel at the facility. The management company appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed the jury verdict against the management company, finding that there was no material evidence that staffing deficiencies proximately caused Ms. Farrar’s death. We hold that the jury’s verdict was supported by material evidence. Accordingly, we reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals and remand the case to the Court of Appeals for review of the award of punitive damages.

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Eastern Section Rules that the UM Arbitration Provision in TN Law Does Not Apply to an Insurance Contract Incepting in Texas

DONALD K. NELSON v. GERALD E. NELSON ET AL.
Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Byron K. Lindberg, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Republic Underwriters Insurance Agency.

Tonya Kennedy Cammon, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Government Employees Insurance Company.

Andrew L. Berke and Jeremy M. Cothern, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Donald K. Nelson.

Judge: SUSANO

This interlocutory appeal involves the question of whether the arbitration provisions contained in Tenn. Code Ann. §56-7-1206(f)-(k)(2008), a part of the Tennessee uninsured motorist (“UM”) statutory scheme, apply to policies with UM coverage that were issued and delivered in Texas. The trial court held that the arbitration provisions do apply. The UM carriers, brought into this action pursuant to the provisions of Tenn. Code Ann. §56-7- 1206(a), appealed that decision. We reverse the trial court’s judgment.

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Court Reinstates Damages in Assisted Living Death

The Tennessee Supreme Court reinstated a jury verdict against the management company of a Shelbyville assisted living center in the death of an 83-year-old resident. Records indicate the woman died from a ruptured colon after a nurse improperly administered an enema. The Supreme Court reinstated $300,000 in compensatory damages after finding that the center was understaffed and that the management company knew about it but did not fix it. A $5 million punitive damages award approved by the jury was sent back to the lower court for review.

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Court Limits Challenges to Workers’ Comp Settlements

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled today that when the state Department of Labor approves a workers’ compensation settlement and accepts the statistical data form submitted with the settlement, a court may not find that the form is incomplete and set aside the settlement on those grounds. The high court also clarified procedures for appealing or attempting to set aside a department-approved settlement. The ruling came in the case of Christopher Furlough v. Spherion Atlantic Workforce LLC.

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Workers’ Comp Gets First Review Thursday

The Haslam Administration's proposal for workers’ compensation overhaul may see its first legislative test next week when it comes before the Workers' Compensation Advisory Council on Thursday at 1 p.m. The council is set up to review and comment on bills but it cannot stop legislation. A TBA Workers’ Comp Working Group has been closely following the developments and is presently reviewing the latest draft of the legislation. The long-standing policy of the TBA is to oppose moving workers’ comp claims from the courts to a purely administrative process. The TBA hopes to continue playing a constructive role in whatever legislation emerges. The administration’s amendment would replace SB 200/HB 194. TBA members have voiced their views to many lawmakers. Among those commenting was LaFollette lawyer David H. Dunaway, who wrote this letter to the editor of the Tennessee Bar Journal.

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St. Thomas Clinic Wants Meningitis Lawsuits Consolidated

Attorneys for St. Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center, where dozens of patients were injected with a meningitis-tainted steroid, filed a motion in Davidson County Circuit Court asking that the presiding judge assign the current and future lawsuits to a single circuit or chancery court judge, the Tennessean reports. The motion was filed on behalf of the Howell Allen Clinic, a codefendant in the two recent suits. The move for consolidation follows recent action merging cases in federal court stemming from the same fungal meningitis outbreak, which caused 14 deaths among Tennessee patients and sickened more than 700 people nationwide.

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When the Relationship Goes Bad--the Western Section Weighs in on a Dispute Between Lawyer and Client in Tort Case

HOLLY CASTLE, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS NEXT FRIEND OF EMILY CASTLE, A MINOR CHILD; AND JANA CLARK v. DAVID DORRIS LOGGING, INC., ET AL.
Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

R. Sadler Bailey, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, Holly Castle and Jana Clark.

Martin Zummach, Southhaven, Mississippi, for the appellee, Horne & Wells, PLLC.

Judge: STAFFORD

This case involves a post-trial dispute between one party to a personal injury case and their former counsel. After a jury verdict was entered in favor of Appellants, their former law firm filed an attorney lien and a motion to recover its attorney fees in the trial court. Appellants asserted that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to consider the former firm’s motion. The trial court disagreed and awarded the former firm its full requested fee. Appellants appeal both the award of attorney fees to its former law firm, and also the trial court’s denial of Appellants’ request to release funds held by the clerk. We conclude that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to consider the post-trial dispute and reverse the award of attorneys fees in this case. However, we affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion to release funds. Reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded.

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General Sessions Appeal Continue to Confuse

MARVIN BERNATSKY AND PATRICIA BERNATSKY v. DESIGNER BATHS & KITCHENS, LLC
With concurring opinions.
Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Steven R. Walker, Oakland, Tennessee, for the Plaintiffs/Appellants Marvin Bernatsky and Patricia Bernatsky

Robert A. Wampler, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Defendant/Appellee Designer Baths & Kitchens, LLC (no brief filed)

Judge: KIRBY

In this case, we address the bond requirements for an appeal from General Sessions Court to Circuit Court. The plaintiffs sued the defendant for damages in General Sessions Court, and a judgment was entered in favor of the defendant. The plaintiffs sought a de novo appeal to Circuit Court. Within ten days of the General Sessions Court judgment, the plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal and paid $211.50 to the General Sessions Court clerk, pursuant to T.C.A. § 8-21-401(b)(1)(C)(i). The plaintiffs did not file any further bond at that time, but later filed a $500 cost bond. The Circuit Court dismissed the appeal sua sponte, holding that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction because the plaintiffs had failed to comply with the appeal-bond requirement in T.C.A. § 27-5-103. The plaintiffs now appeal. After careful review of the statutes and caselaw, we overrule this Court’s prior decision in Jacob v. Partee, No. W2012- 00205-COA-R3-CV, 2012 WL 3249605 (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug 10, 2012), and conclude that payment of a cash bond in the amount of the statutory court costs set out in Section 8-21- 401(b)(1)(C)(i) satisfied the plaintiffs’ obligation to “give bond with good security . . . for the costs of the appeal” under Section 27-5-103(a), and so the Circuit Court had subjectmatter jurisdiction over the appeal. Accordingly, we reverse the Circuit Court’s dismissal of the action and remand for further proceedings.

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Stafford Concurring

Farmer Concurring

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MUST READ Case: Western Section Denies Hospital Lien to Hospital Taking Health Insurance Payments

DIANE WEST, ET AL. v. SHELBY COUNTY HEALTHCARE CORP., d/b/a REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER AT MEMPHIS.
Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Eugene A. Laurenzi and Lesley Cook, Memphis, Tennessee, and A. Wilson Wages, Millington, Tennessee, for the appellants, Diane West, Jammie Heags-Johnson, and Charles Garland, Individually and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated.

John I. Houseal, Jr. and Don L. Hearn, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, Shelby County Healthcare Corp., d/b/a Regional Medical Center at Memphis.

Judge: STAFFORD

This is an appeal from the trial court’s denial of Appellants’ motion to quash Appellee’s hospital liens, which were filed pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 29-22-101 et seq. In each Appellant’s case, the hospital filed a lien and then recovered adjusted amounts for services rendered pursuant to the hospital’s agreements with the Appellant’s respective insurance providers. Despite having received payment, the hospital argues that it may return these adjusted payments to the insurance provider and may, instead, seek to recover its full, unadjusted bill from the Appellants’ third-party tortfeasors by foreclosing its liens. We conclude that: (1) a lien, under the HLA, presupposes the existence of a debt; (2) Appellants are third-party beneficiaries of their respective insurer’s service contract with the Appellee hospital; (3) having chosen to accept a price certain for services as “payment in full” and having, in fact, accepted payment from Appellants’ insurance providers, the underlying debt is extinguished; (4) in the absence of an underlying debt, the hospital may not maintain its lien; (5) the right to subrogate belongs to the insurance provider and a hospital lien does not create a subrogation right in the hospital. Reversed and remanded.

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Meningitis Litigation Centralized in Massachusetts

All suits filed against the New England Compounding Center (NECC) over the recent meningitis outbreak will be heard in federal court in Massachusetts, where the pharmacy is located, News Channel 5 reports. A judicial panel centralized the suits in Massachusetts because that is where NECC’s bankrupty case is pending, and the primary witness and evidence will likely be located there. Judge F. Dennis Saylor has been assigned to hear the more than 120 suites filed in the case.

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Statutory Employer Defense is Affirmed by Western Section

FAYETTE JANITORIAL SERVICES and TECHNOLOGY INSURANCE COMPANY, AS ASSIGNEE OF THE CLAIMS OF WESLEY KENNEDY v. KELLOGG USA, INC.
Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Benjamin F. Gallagher, St. Paul, MN; Brian L. Yoakum, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, Fayette Janitorial Services and Technology Insurance Company, as Assignee of the Claims of Wesley Kennedy

R. Scott McCullough, Richard Sorin, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Kellogg USA, Inc.

Judge: HIGHERS

This appeal involves a tort suit filed after a workplace injury. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, contending that it was a statutory employer within the meaning of the Workers’ Compensation Law, Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-113, and therefore, it was immune from the tort claim asserted on behalf of the injured worker. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. Plaintiffs appeal. We affirm.

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Senate Judiciary Has Eventful Early Day

The Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee today recommended for action three significant measures. The constitutional amendment to create a new method of selecting Supreme Court and appellate judges through gubernatorial nomination, legislative confirmation and retention elections (SJR 2) cleared by a vote of 8 to 1. Legislation to codify comparative fault and limit joint and several liability (SB 56) was adopted by a 5 to 4 vote. Finally, the bill sponsored by Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey to require employers to permit employees to have guns locked in their vehicles (SB 142) moved out by a vote of 8 to 0 with one abstention, despite business opposition.

The Associated Press reported this afternoon that Lt. Governor Ramsey and Republican members of the committee met with Gov. Bill Haslam for nearly an hour on the gun issue before taking up the bill.

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GL Policy Loses Effort to Have Auto Company Declared Primary Coverage After Cross Motions for Summary Judgment

ERIE INSURANCE EXCHANGE v. COLUMBIA NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY ET AL.
Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Gordon C. Aulgur, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Erie Insurance Exchange.

Joseph M. Huffaker, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Columbia National Insurance Company.

Judge: CLEMENT

This is a declaratory judgment action wherein one insurance company, which provided general liability insurance coverage to the insured, asserts that another insurance company, which provided the same insured with automobile insurance coverage, had the primary duty to pay the cost of defending and to indemnify the insured in a third-party tort action filed pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 50-6-112. The plaintiff insurer asserts that the defendant insurer had the primary duty to provide and pay the cost of the defense in that action and to indemnify the insured pursuant to its automobile insurance policy because an additional insured was operating a “boom truck” owned by the insured that was listed under the defendant’s auto policy when the injury to the third-party plaintiff occurred. Both insurers filed motions for summary judgment. The trial court denied the plaintiff’s motion and granted summary judgment to the defendant insurer holding that the plaintiff, not the defendant, is liable for providing and paying the cost of the defense and for indemnifying the insured in the third-party tort action. We affirm.

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