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The team at Dodson Parker Behm & Capparella, PC shares updates and thoughts on developments in the law.

Tennessee Survival Statute Still Confuses Practitioners

What do you do when a defendant dies before suit has been filed? The recent Tennessee Court of Appeals opinion in Putnam v. Leach reminds practitioners that the survival statute and the discovery rule are not the same thing. On February 2, 2015, Julia Putnam was injured in a motor vehicle accident with Bryane Litsinberger.  Exactly one year later, Ms. Putnam and her husband filed suit against...

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Defendant Denied Chance to ID Other Parties Potentially At Fault; Affirmative Defense Reinstated

Naming “John Does” as defendants or comparative torfeasors is a necessary and customary practice in hit-and-run cases. This allows the parties to conduct discovery to identify information that can lead to a determination of who should be held at fault and whether a defendant can be sufficiently identified to be served with process.  The case of Santore v. Stevenson dealt with the...

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Vicarious Liability Issue Decided, Concludes 12 Years of Litigation

The opinion in Beard v. Branson was published over thirteen years after the wrongful death at issue in the case.  While this is a long post, it is a fascinating glimpse into the hurdles a layperson can face in navigating the healthcare system.  Background On September 13, 2004, Ruth Hartley received colon surgery at Trinity Hospital, with Dr. James William Branson as her surgeon. Prior to...

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More Guidance from COA on the Scope of Healthcare Liability Claims

Whenever any kind of injury claim arises in a medical setting, or involves a health care provider, expect a motion to dismiss claiming that the case is one governed by the Tennessee Health Care Liability Act. While the parameters of what falls under the restrictive healthcare liability law (or what we still sometimes refer to as medical malpractice cases) seem to have expanded in recent years, a...

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Extraordinary Cause Excuses Non-Compliance

Courts are not quick to find that extraordinary cause should excuse compliance with the pre-suit notice requirements in a medical malpractice lawsuit, so lawyers take notice when the appellate courts give  guidance on when exceptions will apply. Background On June 24, 2014, Plaintiff Betty Kirby filed a health care liability lawsuit against Sumner Regional Medical Center.  The complaint included...

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Facebook Commentary Not Defamatory

The legal system continues to grapple with the intersection of tort law and social media.  The recent Tennessee Court of Appeals case Weidlich v. Rung examines the circumstances under which a Facebook post could constitute defamation. The parties’ dispute has roots in a public controversy regarding the formation of a Gay/Straight Alliance at Franklin County High School.  In February 2016, a...

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Supreme Court Reaffirms Collateral Source Rule

       On June 2, 2016, the Tennessee Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Dedmon v. Steelman,  an opinion which was a shot heard around the State of Tennessee regarding its possible impact on the collateral source rule in Tennessee in thousands of personal injury cases. The majority opinion was authored by Judge Brandon Gibson, with a concurrence by Special Judge Joe G. Riley.  The impact of...

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State Judicial Reformation of Trust Sufficient to Prevent Asset Inclusion for Federal Tax Purposes

A state law provision that enables a court to reform errors in a trust document was sufficient for IRS purposes under I.R.C. § 2041 to prevent the inclusion of the trust assets in the estate.  While letter rulings are, of course, limited to their facts, this is generally good news for the correction of errors and the implementation of tax-planning in Tennessee. In this case, a Grantor created an...

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Making Charitable Distributions from IRAs

Charitable distributions from an IRA provide a tax benefit for eligible senior citizens, but the rules can be tricky. Any individual who it at least 70.5 years of age can make direct charitable gifts from his or her IRA.  Gifts are capped at $100,000 and must be made to qualified public charities. It is important to note that the client does not receive a charitable deduction.  Rather, the tax...

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Don’t Forget to Define Separate Property in Your Prenup

Many prenuptial agreements contemplate that one spouse will receive alimony, and it is difficult to imagine a prenup that does not establish an intention to delineate between separate and marital property.  However, a failure to define terms can result in confusion.  The recent Tennessee Court of Appeals case Seifert v. Seifert presented just such a situation. In Seifert, the parties’...

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Avoiding Private Foundation 507(c) Termination Tax Means Less Pain for the Gain

Becky Farr Seidel of the Leaffer Law Group wrote a great piece recently for Bloomberg BNA’s Estates, Gifts and Trusts Journal addressing issues in terminating private foundations.  Here are some salient points, and you can read the entire article here. Unlike other 501(c)(3) entities, private foundations are subject to additional stringent regulations under Chapter 42 of the Code.  For that...

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Guidance Issued for Private Foundations with Foreign Grantees

New guidance for private foundations from the IRS addresses treatment of foreign grantees.  The groups may wish to treat grants to foreign grantees as qualifying distributions that satisfy the minimum distribution requirements rather than as expenditures requiring expenditure responsibility. If a private foundation makes a “good faith determination” that a foreign grantee qualifies as a...

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