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Posted by: Chandra Williams on Apr 19, 2016

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter; Andre´e S. Blumstein, Solicitor General; and Joseph Ahillen, Assistant Attorney General; for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Attorneys 2:

Malcolm L. McCune and Mathew Zenner, Brentwood, Tennessee, and William A. Cameron, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Lindsay Megan Crutchfield.

Judge(s): BENNETT

A hearing-impaired student attending a state university was required to live in a dormitory on campus. The university installed a bed shaker and strobe light in the student’s room that would be triggered by the presence of smoke or by a doorbell installed outside the room. The student’s room also had a speaker above the door that was wired into the building’s fire alarm system that sounded an alarm if the dormitory’s fire alarm was activated. On a morning in September 2011, the speaker in the student’s room that was located above the door was activated in response to a false alarm in the dormitory. Believing the sound caused her to suffer further hearing loss, the student sued the State, arguing the State was negligent by subjecting her to the loud alarm. The case was tried by the Tennessee Claims Commission, which found the State liable for the student’s further hearing impairment. The State appealed, and we reverse, holding the student failed to prove proximate cause.