Donald Capparella has established a reputation as one of Tennessee’s most respected litigators, especially in the personal injury and commercial litigation fields. With over 200 trials, many of them before a jury, Mr. Capparella has been involved in many of Tennessee’s landmark cases in personal injury law over the past 30 years. He was named the Best Lawyers 2020 Nashville Personal Injury Litigation for Plaintiffs “Lawyer of the Year,” and the Best Lawyers 2018 Nashville Appellate “Lawyer of the Year.”
Mr. Capparella secured at trial a multi-million dollar award for a widow and child who were wrongly denied insurance proceeds, which he upheld on appeal in the Tennessee Supreme Court in Morrison v. Allen. He also was lead trial counsel in a car accident case in Memphis, obtaining one of the largest jury verdicts that year in Tennessee, which was upheld on appeal in Monypeny v. Khiev. Some of the other seminal cases Mr. Capparella has been counsel in include serving as amicus counsel in McIntyre v. Balentine, which brought comparative fault to Tennessee, and as counsel in the case of Jordan v. Baptist Three River Hospital, that dramatically increased the damages available in wrongful death actions. He also was counsel in Coln v. City of Savannah, a case that modernized the law of premises liability in Tennessee.
Mr. Capparella has also served as counsel in over 450 appeals in both state and federal court, and leads the trial and appellate team at Dodson, Parker, Behm and Capparella. He regularly assists trial practitioners at both the trial and appellate level, ranging from assisting in trial preparation, post-trial motions, and handling the entire appeal.
-In 2016, he was elected to membership in the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers.
Mr. Capparella is a member of the Nashville and Tennessee Bar Associations and the Tennessee Association of Justice. He has served as chair of the appellate practice committee of the Nashville Bar Association and was a barrister in the Nashville Chapter Harry Phillips American Inn of Court. Mr. Capparella has been recognized by the Nashville Business Journal as “Best of the Bar,” as one of Business TN magazine’s “150 Best Lawyers,” and he has been named a Mid-South Super Lawyer. He has an AV® Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell.
He also serves as the editor and contributing author for the Nashville Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Handbook. He is co-author of the Tennessee Law of Comparative Fault, published by Thomson Reuters. He has been an instructor of legal writing at Vanderbilt University School of Law and has taught advanced legal writing at the Nashville School of Law. For 25 years he served as an editor for the Tennessee Tort Law Letter, a monthly report of leading tort cases published by M. Lee Smith Publishers.
Mr. Capparella has been selected by his peers for inclusion in Best Lawyers in America©, where, for the 2021 edition, he is listed in the fields of Appellate Practice, Insurance Law, and Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs.
Frequently in demand as a speaker, Mr. Capparella regularly leads continuing legal education seminars for organizations such as the Nashville and Tennessee Bar Associations. His popular “Much Ado About Ethics” seminar combines Shakespeare’s timeless works with modern legal ethical dilemmas, with proceeds benefiting the Nashville Shakespeare Festival.
A passionate supporter of the arts, Mr. Capparella founded the Nashville Shakespeare Festival in 1988 and has remained actively involved as a director, actor, fundraiser and board chairman. The Festival provides professional theatre at no charge to more than 15,000 Tennesseans annually through its critically-acclaimed “Shakespeare in Centennial Park.” The Festival’s winter home is in residence at Belmont University, and the company tours throughout the year to schools across Tennessee.
• McIntyre v. Ballentine, 833 S.W. 2d 52 (Tenn. 1992). Adoption of comparative fault.
• Martin v. Norfolk S. Ry. Co., 271 S.W. 3d 76 (Tenn. 2008). Clarifying summary judgment jurisprudence.
• Jordan v. Baptist Three Rivers Hosp., 984 S.W. 2d 593 (Tenn. 1999). Allowing loss of consortium damages in wrongful death case.
• Colin v. City of Savannah, 966 S.W. 2d 34 (Tenn. 1998). Abolishing open and obvious rule.
• TWB Architects, Inc. v. The Braxton, LLC, NO. M2017–00423–COA–R3–CV2018 WL 638251 (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 31, 2018). Obtaining nearly $1 million recovery for architect in dispute with developer.
• Hammet v. Wells Fargo Bank , No. M2018-00352-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 2, 2018).
• Starlink Logistics, Inc. v. ACC, LLC, No. M2014-00362-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 31, 2018).
• United States v. Lanier, 870 F.3d 546, 547 (6th Cir. 2017). Successfully vacated criminal conviction for lack of Remmer hearing.
• Moneypeny v. Kheiv, No. W2014–00656–COA–R3–CV, 2015 WL 1541333 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 1, 2015). Trial & appellate counsel obtaining $1.3 million verdict for injured driver in car collision.
• Russell v. Illinois Central Ry. Co.,No. W2013–02453–COA–R3–CV, 2015 WL 4039982 (Tenn. Ct. App. June 30, 2015), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Nov. 25, 2015). Upheld over $3 million verdict for wrongful death of coworker.
• In re Estate of Smallman, 398 S.W.3d 134 (Tenn. 2013). Secured new trial regarding widow’s right to pursue benefits of husband’s estate.
• Mayfield v. Mayfield, 395 S.W.3d 108, 110 (Tenn. 2012). Reversing award of alimony to at-fault spouse.
• Morrison v. Allen, 338 S.W.3d (Tenn. 2011). Securing $1.2 million judgment in life insurance action.
• Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Fenelon, 76 Fed.Appx. 581 (6th Cir. July 30, 2003). Trial and appellate counsel for breach of contract case affirming verdict of $3 million.
• Westmoreland v. Bacon, M2011-01811-COA-RMCV (Tenn. Ct. App. Feb. 26, 2013). Successful Supreme Court Application for Permission to Appeal resulting in remand and preservation of medical malpractice claim.
• Robles v. Vanderbilt Univ. Med. Ctr., M2010-01771-COA-R3CV, 2011 WL 1532069 (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 19, 2011). Preserving client’s right to pursue medical malpractice claim
• Downs ex. rel Downs v.Bush,263 S.W.3d 812 (Tenn. 2008). Reversing lower court grant of summary judgment in wrongful death claim and reinstating case for jury trial.
• Phoenix Ins. Co. v. Estate of Ganier, 212 S.W.3d 270 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2006). Reinstating $1.3 million subrogation action, reversing trial court for second time on appeal.
• Rusnak v. Phebus, M2007-01592-COA-R9-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. 2008). Reversing trial court and holding in case of first impression that pending partition action between joint tenants with right of survivorship is extinguished upon death of joint tenant.
• Knight v. Metro. Gov’t of Nashville & Davidson Cnty., Tenn., 136 F. App’x 755, 757 (6th Cir. 2005). Affirming $200,000 jury verdict for plaintiff in discrimination case.
• State v. Magness, 165 S.W.3d 300, 301 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2004). Substantially reducing defendant’s sentence on appeal.
• Luna v. Sherwood, 208 S.W.3d 403, 404 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2006). Preserving right to pursue medical malpractice claim in Davidson County, Tennessee and preventing adoption of intrastate forum non conveniens doctrine.