Donald Capparella and Tyler Yarbro Serve as Co-Counsel on Successful Appeal of Local Healthcare Liability Case

June 25, 2020

In 2012, after undergoing a procedure to have her gallbladder removed, Mrs. Yebuah learned that there was a foreign object that had been left inside her abdomen during a procedure she had previously undergone in 2005.  Though the healthcare providers from the 2005 surgery admitted fault after Mrs. Yebuah and her husband filed a lawsuit, there was a trial to determine the amount of damages they had suffered.

Based upon the proof presented at trial, the jury ultimately awarded the Yebuahs $4.5 million in non-economic damages: $4 million to Mrs. Yebuah for her pain and suffering and lost enjoyment of life and $500,000 to Mr. Yebuah for his loss of consortium.  After the jury reached its verdict, the trial court applied the statutory cap on damages to reduce the jury verdict in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-39-102.  The trial court ruled that the cap on damages applied to reduce Mrs. Yebuah’s award to $750,000 and that a separate cap on damages applied to Mr. Yebuah’s award, which would remain at $500,000.

The defendants appealed, arguing that the statutory cap on damages should reduce the total award by the jury to $750,000 – not that each plaintiff’s award should be separately capped at $750,000. Specifically, the defendants argued that Mr. and Mrs. Yebuah should have been awarded, at most, $750,000 for all of their collective claims.  The Court of Appeals disagreed.

In examining the cap statute, Tenn. Code Ann § 29-39-102, and relying on the statute’s repeated reference that it applies to “each injured plaintiff,” the Court interpreted the statute to mean that the cap should apply to reduce damages awards to individual plaintiffs. The Court of Appeals, therefore, affirmed the judgment of the trial court and determined that the cap statute operates to give each injured plaintiff a separate, individual cap on their damages.

Donald Capparella and Tyler Yarbro served as co-counsel for the plaintiff alongside Nashville attorneys Randall L. Kinnard, Mary Ellen Morris and Jessica J. Kinnard, and Washington, DC attorney John Vail.

You can read the full opinion here.


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