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Posted by: Chandra Williams on Aug 19, 2015

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Keith C. Dennen, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, John B. Evans.

Attorneys 2:

William B. Jakes, III, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Piedmont Natural Gas Co., Inc.

Judge(s): MCBRAYER

This appeal arises from a property damage dispute. Homeowner claims his sewer line was damaged during the installation of a natural gas pipeline in 1984 and that the damage was concealed. The gas company maintained that a subcontractor for a predecessor entity installed the pipeline and that it had no knowledge of any damage. After homeowner obtained a judgment in general sessions court, the gas company appealed to the circuit court for Davidson County. Homeowner moved to dismiss the appeal on the basis that the gas company did not timely set the case for trial. After homeowner’s motion to dismiss was denied, the gas company moved for summary judgment. Following a hearing, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the gas company because: (1) there was no evidence in the record that the gas company or the predecessor entity damaged the sewer line or concealed any damage; (2) homeowner’s claims were barred by the statute of repose; and (3) homeowner failed to allege facts to support an award of punitive damages. Homeowner appeals. Although the trial court properly granted summary judgment on the issue of punitive damages, we conclude the court erred in limiting homeowner’s discovery. In light of this conclusion, we vacate the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in all other respects and remand.