Tag Archives: Tennessee

Drawing the Line: In Tennessee, the Economic Loss Doctrine Does Not Apply to Contracts for Services

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In Commercial Painting Co. v. Weitz Co. LLC, No. W2019-02089-SC-R11-CV, 2023 Tenn. LEXIS 39 (Weitz), the Supreme Court of Tennessee (Supreme Court) considered whether the economic loss doctrine barred the plaintiff’s claims for fraud, negligent misrepresentation and punitive damages arising out of a contract with the defendant for construction services. The court held that the economic loss doctrine only applies to product liability cases and does not apply to claims arising from contracts for services. This case establishes that, in Tennessee, the economic loss doctrine does not bar tort claims in disputes arising from service contracts.

In Weitz, defendant, Weitz Co. LLC (Weitz), was the general contractor for a construction project and hired plaintiff Commercial Painting Co. (Commercial) as a drywall subcontractor.  Weitz refused to pay Commercial for several of its payment applications, claiming that the applications were submitted untimely and contained improper change order requests.  Commercial filed a lawsuit against Weitz seeking over $1.9 million in damages, alleging breach of contract, unjust enrichment, enforcement of a mechanic’s lien, and interest and attorney’s fees under the Prompt Pay Act of 1991. Weitz filed a counterclaim for $500,000 for costs allegedly incurred due to Commercial’s delay and defective workmanship. In response, Commercial amended its complaint to add claims for fraud, intentional and negligent misrepresentation, rescission of the contract and $10 million in punitive damages. Commercial alleged that Weitz received an extension of the construction schedule but fraudulently withheld this information from Commercial and continued to impose unrealistic deadlines.

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This entry was posted in Contracts, Economic Loss Rule, Tennessee and tagged , , .
Large Property Loss

Let’s Give ‘Em Sutton to Talk About: Tennessee Court Enforces Sutton Doctrine

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In Patton v Pearson, No. M2022-00708-COA-RC-CV, 2023 Tenn. App. LEXIS 231, the Court of Appeals of Tennessee (Court of Appeals) considered whether the lower court erred in dismissing an insurance carrier’s lawsuit against its insured’s tenant for damages sustained in a fire. While the lawsuit was filed in the name of the landlord (i.e., the insured), discovery revealed that the lawsuit was actually a subrogation lawsuit, brought by the landlord’s insurance carrier. The lower court granted the tenant’s motion for summary judgment based on the Sutton Doctrine, holding that the tenant was an implied co-insured under the landlord’s policy. The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding that although the lease agreement did not reference insurance, the Sutton Doctrine applied, which barred the landlord’s carrier from subrogating against the tenant. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Anti-Subrogation Rule, Landlord-Tenant, Sutton Doctrine, Tennessee and tagged , , , .
Signing Agreement

Family Matters: United States District Court Extends Sutton Rule to Undefined “Family”

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In Am. Reliable Ins. Co. v. Addington., No. 3:21-CV-00848, __ F.Supp.3d __, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 218436, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee (the District Court) considered whether a tenant’s live-in partner and the partner’s adult son constituted a “family” in the underlying lease and, thus, were implied co-insureds under the Sutton Rule. The District Court determined that the arrangement did constitute a “family” and that the Sutton Rule barred subrogation.

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This entry was posted in Landlord-Tenant, Sutton Doctrine, Tennessee, Uncategorized and tagged , .

Tennessee Looks to Define Improvements to Real Property

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For subrogation practitioners dealing with an installation-based statute of repose, knowing what is an improvement to real property is the first battle in what can, but does not have to be, a long fight. Like many other states, Tennessee’s statute of repose bars claims based on improvements to real property. Tennessee’s statute of repose runs four years after substantial completion of the improvement. See Tennessee Code Ann. § 28-3-202. In the case of Maddox v. Olshan Found. Repair & Waterproofing Co. of Nashville, L.P., E A, 2019 Tenn.App. LEXIS 464, 2019 WL 4464816, the Court of Appeals of Tennessee examined whether or not the work done by the defendant, Olshan Foundation Repair & Waterproofing Co. of Nashville, L.P., E.A. (Olshan) — which addressed bowing walls, cracks in the foundation and walls and water intrusion — qualified as improvements to real property for the purposes of the statute of repose. The court held that the work by Olshan essentially amounted to repairs, and did not qualify as improvements to real property. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Construction Defects, Statute of Limitations-Repose, Tennessee and tagged , , .
House Flood

Tennessee Court of Appeals Holds Defendant Has the Burden of Offering Alternative Measure of Damages to Prove that Plaintiff’s Measure of Damages is Unreasonable

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In Durkin v. MTown Construction, LLC, 2018 Tenn. App. LEXIS 128, the Court of Appeals of Tennessee considered whether the lower court properly took judicial notice of an alternative measure of damages to the measure of damages advanced by the plaintiff. The Court of Appeals held that the defendant has the burden of offering evidence of alternative measures of damages if it seeks to argue that the plaintiff’s measure of the damages is unreasonable. The Court of Appeals found that the lower court erred in taking judicial notice of alternative measures of damage when the defendant failed to meet its burden of proof. The court’s holding establishes that, if the defendant does not offer evidence of alternative measures of damage, then the measure of damages introduced by the plaintiff will apply.   Continue reading

This entry was posted in Damages, Damages - Real Property, Tennessee and tagged , .

Tennessee’s Supreme Court Holds That Intentional Misconduct is not a Necessary Prerequisite for Spoliation Sanctions

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By: Edward A. Jaeger, Jr. and Michael J. Wolfer

In Tatham v. Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc., 473 S.W.3d 734 (Tenn. 2015), the Tennessee Supreme Court addressed whether intentional misconduct is a prerequisite to imposing sanctions for spoliation of evidence. The Supreme Court held that a finding of intentional misconduct is not a necessary prerequisite to imposing sanctions. Its presence, however, is a relevant factor in the totality of the circumstances to consider when determining whether to impose sanctions.

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This entry was posted in Spoliation, Tennessee and tagged , .