Tennessee Supreme Court Ruling Reverses Standard for Summary Judgment


In a landmark decision released last week, the Tennessee Supreme Court rendered an opinion that should be of assistance to our clients who seek a more prompt dismissal of unmeritorious cases filed against them. A result of the hard work of the Lewis Thomason team of attorneys, the decision will make it easier for defendants to achieve summary judgment in Tennessee courts.

In Michelle Rye v. Women’s Care Center of Memphis, No. W2013-00804-SC-R11-CV, the williamhhaltomTennessee Supreme Court addressed the standard for summary judgment as a tool to elicit from a court the dismissal of all or some of a case prior to trial. Lewis Thomason represented the defendant physicians and sought to have the case dismissed on summary judgment. This required the Supreme Court to overturn its previous decision in Hannan v. Alltel Publishing Company, decided in 2008. Lewis Thomason attorneys argued that the Hannan decision made it difficult to obtain summary judgment and margaretfcooperfrustrated the purposes for which the summary judgment procedure was intended.

In its opinion issued Oct. 26, the Supreme Court agreed, reversing the Hannan standard for summary judgment and returning to the previous standard whereby the defendant can prevail on summary judgment by demonstrating that the

plaintiff’s evidence is insufficient as a matter of law to jamesdduckworthestablish a claim. The ruling aligns the summary judgment standard with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

William H. Haltom, Jr., a Lewis Thomason shareholder who argued the case before the Supreme Court, stated, “This is a major victory in the Tennessee Supreme Court, and it was a team effort as the winning brief was written by Lewis Thomason associates Maggie Cooper and James Duckworth.”

If you have questions regarding the Rye decision, please contact Lewis Thomason.
Lewis Thomason has a longstanding tradition of excellence and success. We provide a level of service that builds respect and establishes long-term relationships. Combining expertise with experience, our firm offers a wide range of legal services and strives to create an atmosphere of trust and communication between our clients and lawyers.

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