Tennessee Supreme Court’s Landmark Decision
In a landmark decision released yesterday, 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. In Michelle Rye v. Women’s Care Center of Memphis, No. W2013-00804-SC-R11-CV, the Tennessee 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 going 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 frustrated the purposes for which the summary judgment procedure was intended. In its opinion issued yesterday, 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 establish a claim. 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.”