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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Apr 2, 2012

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys 1:

Archie Sanders, III, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, Angela G. Brown, Charles C. Brown, Jr., Cheryl Brown Giggers, and JoAnn Fisher.

Attorneys 2:

Joe Lee Wyatt and William Joseph Wyatt, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Scruggs Security and Patrol, LLC.

Charles Wesley Fowler, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Memphis Housing Authority.

Judge(s): HOLDER

The plaintiffs, survivors of a tenant killed by the criminal act of another tenant, filed suit against the defendant housing authority. The plaintiffs alleged the housing authority was negligent in failing to evict the other tenant at the first instance of violent behavior. The housing authority filed a motion for summary judgment claiming federal regulations preempted the plaintiffs’ negligence claim and that it was immune from suit under the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act (“the GTLA”). The trial court denied summary judgment. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court. We granted review to determine whether the plaintiffs’ negligence claim is preempted by federal law or, in the alternative, whether the housing authority is immune from suit under the discretionary function exception of the GTLA. We conclude that the plaintiffs’ negligence suit is not preempted by federal law. We further conclude that the housing authority’s failure to evict is an operational decision and that the housing authority is not entitled to immunity under the GTLA. We reverse the Court of Appeals and remand this case to the trial court for further proceedings.