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Archives: 2013 August

What is the statute of limitations for a false light invasion of privacy claim under Tennessee law?

Posted on Aug 26 2013 3:16PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

Analysis:  The statute of limitations for a false light invasion of privacy claim is the same statute of limitations that applies to a claim for slander or libel, depending on where the false light claim is based on spoken or written words.  Tennessee keeps the statute of limitations consistent depending on if the words at issue are written or spoken.  The Tennessee Supreme Court in West v. Media Gen. Convergence, Inc., 53 S.W.3d 640, 648 (Tenn. 2001) held as follows:


we hold that false light claims are subject to the statutes of limitation that apply to libel and slander, as stated in Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 28–3–103 and 28–3–104(a)(1), depending on the form of the publicity, whether in spoken or fixed form.


The statute of limitations for a slander (verbal statements) claim in Tennessee is six months from the moment the words are uttered (the discovery rule does not apply to slander claims – See Quality Auto Parts, Inc. v. Bluff City Buick Co., Inc., 876 S.W.2d 818 (Tenn. 1994)) based on T.C.A. § 28-3-103, which provides:


Actions for slanderous words spoken shall be commenced within six (6) months after the words are uttered.


The statute of limitations for a libel (written words) claim in Tennessee is one year from the accrual of the cause...

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TAGS: Statute of Limitations, Slander/Libel Comments [0]

Construction Law - Under Tennessee law what damages can be recovered for breach of a construction contract?

Posted on Aug 19 2013 10:14PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

Analysis:  The recent Tennessee Court of Appeals decision of Brooke Buttrey v. Holloway's, Inc., No. M2011-01335-COA-R3-CV, 2012 WL 6451802 (Tenn. Ct. App. December 12, 2012) considered a case where the defendant failed to construct the home in a workmanlike manner.  The trial court concluded the defendant breached its contract based on the deficiencies in the construction of the home.  The next question was, what are the appropriate damages for the deficient work?  The trial court found the defendant was required to pay back the total amount the plaintiff paid to build her house, $143,272.00. Buttrey at 4.


It is clear under Tennessee law that in a breach of contract action, “damages resulting from the breach are a necessary element of the claim and, therefore, the claimant has the burden of proving damages at trial.”  Buttrey at 7.  Under Tennessee law the purpose of assessing damages in a breach of contact case is to "make the non-breaching party whole, to place the non-breaching party in the same position he would have been in had the contract been performed."  Buttrey at 7. (citing Hiller v. Hailey, 915 S.W.2d 800, 805 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1995)).  As a result, the “damages awarded by the trial court should have been designed to place Ms. Buttrey in the position she would have been in had the contract been performed as contemplated."  Buttrey at 7.


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TAGS: Damages, Breach of Contract, Construction Law, Contracts Comments [0]

Tennessee Chancery Courts - Annual report statistics for Tennessee Chancery Courts in fiscal year 2011-2012

Posted on Aug 12 2013 9:40PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

Each year the Tennessee Judiciary publishes an annual report discussing the Tennessee judiciary.  This report provides detailed statistical information about Tennessee courts and the cases they handle and resolve.  The fiscal year, 2011-2012, report is the most recent report that has been released.  This post will discuss some of the statistics for Tennessee Chancery Courts. 




In fiscal year 2011-2012, there were a total of 62,392 cases filed in Tennessee Chancery Courts.  That is one Chancery Court case per 103 residents of Tennessee (2012 TN population was 6,456,243).  There are approximately 17,203 lawyers in Tennessee so that means there were a total of 3.62 Chancery court cases filed per Tennessee attorney (did you file your share?).  Of note to Tennessee litigators specifically, the following are the total number of cases filed in Tennessee Chancery Courts pertaining to specific types of cases involving litigation type matters:


            Probate/trust issues                                                      10,689

            Miscellaneous general civil                                           7,160

            Contract/debt/specific performance                            3,133<...

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TAGS: Tennessee Workers Compensation, Tennessee Legal Statistics Comments [0]

Premises Liability Law – In Tennessee if a healthy tree falls on a neighbor’s property and does damage, is the tree owner responsible for this damage?

Posted on Aug 5 2013 8:08AM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

Brief Summary:  The short answer is that in Tennessee a homeowner is generally not responsible for damage caused by their healthy tree that falls onto the property of another and causes damage.  The only time the premises owner could be responsible is if the tree is causing a nuisance or encroaching on the neighbor’s property.


Analysis:  The Tennessee Court of Appeals decided a recent case on a commonly asked question under Tennessee law.  The question is basically whether a homeowner is responsible if one of their live, healthy trees falls onto their neighbor’s property and does damage.  The Tennessee Court of Appeals in Cindy Russell v. Gene Claridy, 2013 WL 655235, No. M2012-01054-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. February 20, 2013) discussed a situation where a live healthy tree fell from the defendant’s property onto the plaintiff’s property, landing on the plaintiff’s van and causing damage of approximately $8,810.00.  In this matter the plaintiff had actually contacted the defendant some years prior regarding concerns about the tree however the defendant did not see any problems with the tree because it was healthy and basically on pasture land.  As a result, the defendant did not remove the tree.


The trial court ultimately found the tree fell due to an “act of God” and therefore the defendant was not liable for damages to the van.  There was no evidence presented to the court that the tree was unhealthy, was likely to fall or that the defendant had any notice of any likelihood of the tree falling.


On appeal, the plaintiff asserted this tree should still be constituted a nuisance because of the threat to the plaintiff’s property.  The court did note there are other Tennessee decisions which find that encroaching trees onto another person’s property that “adversely affected the plaintiff’s reasonable and ordinary use and occupation of her home, not to mention posing hazards to the plaintiff’s health and safety,” can constitute a nuisance under Tennessee law.  Russell at 3 (citing Lane v. W. J. Curry and Sons, 92 S.W.3d 355, 363...

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TAGS: Negligence, Real Estate, Tennessee Premises Liability Comments [1]

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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Phone: 615-540-1004
E-mail: jlee@burrowlee.com