Donald Capparella

Donald Capparella is considered by his peers as one of the foremost appellate lawyers in Tennessee. He has prevailed in appeals against two of the largest companies in the world, Exxon and Amazon, and has worked on many landmark cases involving diverse areas of law, in both the Tennessee Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Many lawyers rely on Donald Capparella not just at the appellate stage, but also in pre-trial and post-trial motion practice, and as appellate counsel during trial.

With over thirty years of experience in trial and appellate litigation, Donald has handled more than 400 appeals in state and federal courts, including over 20 cases in the Tennessee Supreme Court. Now focusing his practice primarily on appellate work and trial consulting, Mr. Capparella uses experience gained from serving as trial counsel in over 150 trials, many of them before a jury, to advise lawyers on the challenges they face at trial and to achieve the best possible outcomes at the appellate level. 

Donald Capparella has established a reputation as one of Tennessee’s most respected litigators, with his experience handling a wide variety of matters, from seminal tort law cases to over 50 divorce appeals to his work on many of Tennessee’s landmark cases.

Landmark Cases:

  •  Lead appellate counsel in Fox et al. v., Inc., 930 F.3d 415 (6th Cir. 2019), holding for the first time in history that Amazon could be held liable for a product sold on its website, an exploding hoverboard, when it knew of the danger of the product.
  • Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Fenelon, 76 F. App’x 581 (6th Cir. 2003) The trial court’s multi-million dollar verdict was upheld and increased on appeal against Exxon for a Nashville plastic company.
  • Morrison v. Allen, 338 S.W.3d 417 (Tenn. 2011). In the Tennessee Supreme Court after also serving as trial counsel, Donald secured a multi-million-dollar award for a widow and child who were wrongly denied insurance proceeds.
  • Monypeny v. Khiev, 2015 WL 1541333 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2015). As lead trial and appellate counsel in a car accident case in Memphis, Donald obtained one of the largest jury verdicts in Tennessee that year, which was upheld on appeal.

Divorce Appeals:

  • Mayfield v. Mayfield, 395 S.W.3d 108 (Tenn. 2012), where Supreme Court reversed an award of alimony to an abusive spouse;
  • Trezevant v. Trezevant, 568 S.W.3d 595, (Tenn. Ct. App. 2018), which reversed an inequitable division of a more than $46 million marital estate;
  • Barnes v. Barnes, 614 S.W.3d 90 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2019), which reversed a trial court’s reduction of alimony, and obtained substantial attorney’s fees on appeal and at trial;
  • Gergel v. Gergel, 2022 WL 1222945, (Tenn. Ct. App. April 26, 2022), which upheld the trial court’s rulings on alimony, division of marital assets and other issues;
  • Jacobsen v. Jacobsen, 2013 WL 1400618 (Tenn. Ct. App. April 5, 2013), which reversed the trial court’s award of custody and the marital home to an abusive spouse;
  • Walker v. Walker, 2020 WL 507645 (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 31, 2020), which upheld the trial court’s setting aside of prenuptial agreement on the basis of fraud.

Commercial Appeal:

  • Butler v. KBK Outdoor Advertising et al., 2020 WL 8026513 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2020), which reversed the trial court’s decision to award minimal value to a surviving spouse of a partner under partnership agreement.

Amicus Briefs on Tennessee Tort Law:

  • Amicus counsel in McIntyre v. Balentine, 833 S.W.2d 52 (Tenn. 1992) which brought comparative fault to Tennessee;
  • Amicus counsel in Jordan v. Baptist Three River Hospital, 984 S.W.2d 593 (Tenn. 1999), which dramatically increased the damages available in wrongful death actions.
  • Amicus counsel in Coln v. City of Savannah, 966 S.W.2d 34 (Tenn. 1998), modernizing the law of premises liability in Tennessee.

Tennessee Supreme Court cases regarding the constitutionality of Tennessee’s damages cap for non-economic damages:

  • Yebuah v. Center for Urological Treatment, PLC, 624 SW 3d 481 (Tenn. 2021),and
  • McClay v. Airport Management Services, LLC, 596 SW 3d 686 (Tenn. 2020).

Mr. Capparella’s professional memberships, awards, and honors include:

  •  2016 Induction as a Fellow into the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers;
  • Member of the Nashville and Tennessee Bar Associations;
  • Member of the Tennessee Trial Lawyers’ Association;
  • Appellate Practice Committee Chair of the Tennessee and Nashville Bar Associations;
  • Barrister in the Nashville Chapter Harry Phillips American Inn of Court.
  • Recognized more than a dozen times as “Best of the Bar” by the Nashville Business Journal;
  • Named Appellate “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers 2018;
  • One of Business TN magazine’s “150 Best Lawyers;”
  • Named a Mid-South Super Lawyer.
  • AV® Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell.

As a writer and teacher, Mr. Capparella accomplishments include:

  •  Serving for over 25 years as the editor and contributing author for the Nashville Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Handbook, the only appellate treatise in Tennessee;
  • Since 1995, co-authoring the Tennessee Law of Comparative Fault, published by Thomson Reuters;
  • For 25 years serving as an editor for the Tennessee Tort Law Letter, a monthly report of leading tort cases published by M. Lee Smith Publishers.
  • Teaching legal writing at Vanderbilt University School of Law and advanced legal writing and appellate practice at the Nashville School of Law.

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 dilemmas, with proceeds benefitting 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 to more than 10,000 Tennesseans annually through its critically-acclaimed Summer Shakespeare Festival at OneCity and other productions and tours during the year.



Martindale-Hubbell® AV Preeminent Rating Badge
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Dodson Parker Behm and Capparella PC
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