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Archives: 2014 January

In Tennessee if an Individual Passes Out While Driving a Vehicle, are they Responsible if they Cause an Accident?

Posted on Jan 28 2014 9:28AM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

Analysis:  The Tennessee Court of Appeals recently dealt with the question of the responsibility of an individual who becomes unconscious, while driving, causing an automobile accident.  The Tennessee Court of Appeals in George Smith v. General Tire and Emily Alexander, No. M2012-01446-COA-R3-CV, 2013 WL 2395047 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2013) involved a case where a man was injured in a head-on collision.  The unconscious defendant in this case testified she did not remember anything on the day of the accident from the point she came to a red light on Gallatin Road until she woke up in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.  She had a long history of diabetes but she had never experienced a loss of consciousness prior to the accident in question.  Additionally, she had never been advised by her physician that she should not drive a vehicle.  Her treating physician testified her blood sugar level must have dropped too quickly for her to realize before she became unconscious. 


There was medical testimony submitted by both sides pertaining to the possibility of her becoming unconscious based on the medication and diagnosis of the defendant.  The Smith court found that the Tennessee Supreme Court has adopted a rule that embodies how to deal with evaluating the situation where a driver suddenly loses consciousness.  This rule is as follows:


A sudden loss of consciousness or physical capacity experienced while driving which is not reasonably foreseeable is a defense to a negligence action. To constitute a defense, defendant must establish that the sudden loss of consciousness or physical capacity to control the vehicle was not reasonably foreseeable to a prudent person. As a result, the defense is not avail...

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TAGS: Negligence, Automobile/Motorcycle Liability, Defenses Comments [0]

What is the Statute of Limitations for a Tennessee Medical Malpractice Cause of Action (Healthcare Liability Action)?

Posted on Jan 20 2014 2:32PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

Analysis:  The statute of limitations for a medical malpractice cause of action (now known as a “healthcare liability action” due to recent changes in the Tennessee statutes) is one year as established by T.C.A. § 29-26-116.  If the alleged injury is not discovered within the one year period then the period of limitations is one year from the date of the discovery of the alleged injury (this is known as the “discovery rule” which is applied to many different statutes of limitations in Tennessee).  However, no cause of action can be brought greater than three years after the date of the negligent act or omission except when there is fraudulent concealment by the defendant.  If there is fraudulent concealment then the case must be commenced within one year after the discovery that the cause of action exists.  This three year time period is considered a statute of repose under Tennessee law and the “discovery rule” does not save a claim from being barred under this statute of repose under the plain language of this statute (unless fraudulent concealment is present as stated in the statute).   


There is one other exception to the limitation time periods identified in this statute - when a foreign object is negligently left in the patient’s body.  In this circumstance the statute of limitations is one year from the time the alleged injury is discovered or should have been discovered.  This exception also applies to the three year statute of repose based on the plain language in the statute.  (See also Bloomer v. Wellmont Holston Valley Medical Center, 299 F.Supp.2d 810 (E.D.Tenn. 2004)).


T.C.A. § 29-26-116(a) in totality provides as follows:


(a)(1) The statute of limitations in health care liability actions shall be one (1) year as set forth in § 28-3-104.

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TAGS: Tennessee Medical Malpractice/Health Care Liability, Statute of Limitations, Statute of Repose Comments [0]

Arbitration - Sixth Circuit Continues Favorable Support of Arbitration

Posted on Jan 11 2014 4:59PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

Sometimes I want to bring your attention to other great legal blog commentary on things that may be of interest to those that are involved in Tennessee litigation.  A recent post by the Sixth Circuit Appellate Blog discussed recent Sixth Circuit decisions on arbitration.  There is a clear trend in the Sixth Circuit and in many of the other Federal Circuits of favoring arbitration and providing great deference to the decisions of arbitrators.  One recent case is discussed in this blog post is a Sixth Circuit decision supporting the decision of the arbitrator even though the decision was contrary to Sixth Circuit precedent.  The Court supported the decision because it provided a “colorable” reading of an ERISA statute and therefore the arbitrator’s decision was upheld.

I recommend that you read this post (it can be found here) and these cases if you have any desire to appeal an arbitration decision in the Sixth Circuit.  These recent cases may make you reconsider such an appeal unless you have rock solid grounds for the appeal.

Follow me on Twitter at @jasonalee for updates from the Tennessee Defense Litigation blog.

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TAGS: Sixth Circuit, Arbitration Comments [0]

What is the Statute of Limitations and Statute of Repose for a Products Liability Cause of Action in Tennessee?

Posted on Jan 5 2014 10:00PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

Analysis:  Under Tennessee law, as a general rule, the statute of limitations for a product liability cause of action is the same as what applies to a personal injury or injury to property cause of action. (See T.C.A. § 29-28-103).  As a result, injuries to the person are subject to a one year statute of limitation for a products liability injury. (See T.C.A. § 28-3-104).  Injuries to personal or real property are governed by the three year statute of limitations found in T.C.A. § 28-3-105.  Regardless, all claims must be brought within 6 years of the date of injury as stated explicitly in T.C.A. § 29-28-103. 


There is also a statute of repose found in T.C.A. § 29-28-103.  This statute states the following (see the highlighted portion of the statute for the statute of repose language):


(a) Any action against a manufacturer or seller of a product for injury to person or property caused by its defective or unreasonably dangerous condition must be brought within the period fixed by §§ 28-3-104, 28-3-105, 28-3-202 and 47-2-725, but notwithstanding any exceptions to these provisions, it must be brought within six (6) years of the date of injury, in any event, the action must be brought within ten (10) years from the date on which the product was first purchased for use or consumption, or within one (1) year after the expiration of the anticipated life of the product, whichever is the shorter, except in the case of injury to minors whose action must be brought within a period of one (1) year after attaining the age of majority, whichever occurs sooner.


As a result, the outer limit for a products liability cause of action (the statute of repose) is ten years after the product was first purchased or within one year of the expiration of the anticipated life of the product – whichever is shorter.  There is one exception to the statute...

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TAGS: Defenses, Statute of Limitations, Statute of Repose, Products Liability Comments [2]

Jason A. Lee is a Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC. He practices in all areas of defense litigation inside and outside of Tennessee.

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Tennessee Defense Litigation Blog
Jason A. Lee, Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC
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Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: 615-540-1004
E-mail: jlee@burrowlee.com