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The Supreme Court’s decision in West v. Shelby County Healthcare Corp., 459 S.W.3d 33 (Tenn. 2014), holding that “reasonable charges” for medical services under Tennessee’s Hospital Lien Act are the discounted amounts a hospital accepts as full payment from patients’ private insurer and not the full, undiscounted amounts billed to patients, does not apply in personal injury cases. Further, the collateral source rule applies in this personal injury case, in which the collateral benefit at issue is private insurance. Therefore, Plaintiffs may submit evidence of the injured party’s full, undiscounted medical bills as proof of reasonable medical expenses, and Defendants are precluded from submitting evidence of discounted rates accepted by medical providers from the insurer to rebut Plaintiffs’ proof that the full, undiscounted charges are reasonable. The Supreme Court thus affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals, which concluded that West did not apply to personal injury cases but that evidence of discounted amounts accepted by the injured’s medical providers may be admissible to rebut Plaintiffs’ expert testimony on the reasonableness of the amount of the full, undiscounted bills. View "Dedmon v. Steelman" on Justia Law

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In this appeal challenging Defendant’s sentence, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of criminal appeals, vacated the sentencing determination of the trial court, and remanded the matter to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing. Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of vehicular homicide by intoxication. Defendant was sentenced to eight years with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. The trial court ordered Defendant to serve his sentence in confinement. The court of criminal appeals reversed and ordered Defendant to be placed on full probation. The Supreme Court held (1) the trial court failed to make sufficient findings for the appellate courts to review the sentence with a presumption of reasonableness; (2) the record was inadequate to conduct an independent review of the sentence imposed by the trial court; and (3) consequently, the record was not sufficient to support the court of criminal appeals’ modification of Defendant’s sentence to order full probation. View "State v. Trent" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Tennessee Uniform Trust Code is intended to give trustees broad authority to fulfill their duties as trustee and gives trustees the power to enter into predispute arbitration agreements, so long as doing so is not prohibited under the operative trust instrument. At issue in this interlocutory appeal was whether the signature of the trustee of a trust on an investment/brokerage account agreement that included a provision requiring the arbitration of disputes bound the beneficiary of the trust to the predispute arbitration provision. The Supreme Court held (1) under both the Tennessee Uniform Trust Code and the operative trust instrument, the trustee had authority to enter into the arbitration agreement contained within the account agreement; and (2) applying the principle that a third party who seeks the benefit of a contract must also bear its burdens, the trust beneficiary in this case may be bound to arbitrate claims against the investment broker that sought to enforce the account agreement. The court vacated the trial court order compelling arbitration of all claims and remanded the case to the trial court for a determination as to which, if any, of the claims asserted by the trust beneficiary seek to enforce the account agreement. View "Harvey ex rel. Gladden v. Cumberland Trust & Investment Co." on Justia Law

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This case arose out of rear-end collisions involving three tractor trailer vehicles. Plaintiff sued the owners and drivers of both of the other tractor trailers. The owner of the third tractor trailer was later dismissed on a directed verdict. The jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff. The trial court suggested a remittitur of the jury’s verdict in all four categories of damages awarded. On appeal, the Court of Appeals reinstated the jury’s award for lost earning capacity, suggested a further remittitur to the award for loss of enjoyment of life, and affirmed the remitted award in the remaining two categories of damages. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the trial court’s rulings regarding a pretrial agreement between Plaintiff and the owner of the third tractor trailer; (2) affirmed the trial court’s decision not to give a special instruction on superseding cause; (3) reversed the court of appeals’ remittitur for the award for loss of enjoyment of life because the Court of Appeals had no authority under the circumstances to suggest a further remittitur; and (4) determined that it was unable to conduct a proper appellate review of the trial court’s remittitur decision. View "Borne v. Celadon Trucking Services, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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In this case arising out of a secured transaction between Debtor and the predecessor to Plaintiff, Bank, both the trial court and the court of appeals erred in their respective applications of the statutory “rebuttable presumption rule” under Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code, as codified at Tenn. Code Ann. 47-9-626. Debtor borrowed more than $2.3 million from Bank’s predecessor for the purchase of an aircraft, which secured the loan. The trial court later found that Debtor had defaulted on the loan agreement, that Bank had disposed of the aircraft in a commercial reasonable manner, and that Bank was entitled to recover a judgment for a deficiency of over $1.6 million. The court of appeals vacated the deficiency judgment, concluding that Bank’s sale of the aircraft had not been commercially reasonable. On remand, the trial court concluded that Bank had met its burden to rebut the presumption under section 47-9-626 and that Bank was entitled to recover a deficiency in the amount of $1.2 million. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Bank had not rebutted the statutory presumption and was thus not entitled to a deficiency. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals, vacated the trial court’s judgment and remanded, holding that Bank sufficiently rebutted the statutory rebuttable presumption. View "Regions Bank v. Thomas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Commercial Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals affirming Defendant’s conviction for especially aggravated robbery. On appeal, Defendant argued that the serious bodily injury to the victim occurred after the robbery was complete, and therefore, he could have committed only an aggravated robbery. Relying on different reasoning than that employed by the intermediate appellate court, the Supreme Court held that the evidence supported Defendant’s conviction of especially aggravated robbery because the victim’s serious bodily injury was inflicted before Defendant had completed robbing the victim with a deadly weapon. View "State v. Henderson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the trial court’s determination that the combined weight of the facts of this case did not amount to clear and convincing evidence that termination of Mother’s parental rights was in the children’s best interests. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) removed three children from the custody of Mother and placed them with foster parents. Mother cooperated with DCS and complied with a permanency plan that set the goal for the children as reunification. Foster Parents filed a petition seeking to terminate Mother’s parental rights and to adopt the children. The juvenile court, meanwhile, ordered DCS to place the children with Mother for the trial home visit. The trial court dismissed Foster Parents’ petition, finding that Foster Parents had proven a ground for termination by clear and convincing proof but had failed to establish by clear and convincing proof that termination was in the children’s best interests. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed and reinstated the trial court’s judgment, holding that the trial court correctly held that the combined weight of the proof did not amount to clear and convincing evidence that termination was in the best interests of the children. View "In re Gabriella D." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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A “preferred service” state employee does not have a protected property interest in his or her employment, and the State did not bear the ultimate burden of proof in a post-termination administrative appeal under section 8-30-318 of the Tennessee Excellence, Accountability, and Management Act of 2012 (TEAM), Tenn Code. Ann. 8-39-101 through -407. After the Tennessee Department of Correction (Petitioner) dismissed David Pressley from his employment as a correctional officer, Pressley challenged his termination under the TEAM Act’s appeals process. The Board of Appeals reinstated Pressley at Step III of the appeals process. The chancery court reversed, concluding that the Board erred in determining that the State bore the ultimate burden of proof in the Step III appeal. The court of appeals, in turn, reversed, determining that preferred service state employees have a protected property interest in their employment and that the Board correctly assigned the ultimate burden of proof. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case to the Board, holding (1) preferred service employees do not possess a property interest in their continued employment with the State; and (2) the Board erred when it assigned the ultimate burden of proof to the State to sustain Pressley’s termination for cause. View "Tennessee Department of Correction v. Pressley" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether a surviving spouse who files a wrongful death lawsuit was acting as a legal representative of the decedent and whether a wrongful death lawsuit filed pro se by the surviving spouse was void ab initio based on the spouse's pro se status. The Tennessee Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals, affirmed the trial court's denial of summary judgment, and remanded. The court held that the initial pro se complaint was not void ab initio, it served to toll the statute of limitations, and the trial court did not err in allowing the filing of the amended complaint to relate back to the date of the initial complaint. View "Beard v. Branson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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In this case, the Supreme Court expressly overruled its decision in State v. Barney, 986 S.W.2d 545 (Tenn. 1999), and held that double jeopardy principles apply when determining whether multiple convictions of sexual offenses arise from a single act of sexual assault. Defendant was convicted of one count of attempt to commit aggravated sexual battery, four counts of aggravated sexual battery, and three counts of rape of a child. Defendant was sentenced to an effective term of forty years. The court of criminal appeals affirmed the convictions but merged the conviction of attempt to commit aggravated sexual battery with one of the child rape convictions. The court also modified Defendant’s sentence to an effective term of twenty-five years. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the facts and circumstances of this case, the Court of Criminal Appeals did not err in merging two of Defendant’s multiple convictions. View "State v. Itzol-Deleon" on Justia Law