In some cases, procedural issues could result in barring a personal injury claim, but a skilled Tennessee premises liability attorney can advance an argument against dismissal. In a January 30, 2018 case, the Court of Appeals of Tennessee reviewed whether a trial court had properly dismissed the plaintiff’s claims against some of the defendants that she had sued after suffering a fall in a grocery store.
The plaintiff in the case had slipped on an unsecured mat at a supermarket and fell, sustaining injuries. She alleged that the shopping cart and the unsecured mat caused her to trip, and she brought claims for ordinary negligence, premises liability, and negligence per se against four entities that owned or operated the store. The plaintiff voluntarily dismissed without prejudice three of the four defendants a few months after bringing the lawsuit. She subsequently filed an amended complaint against the one remaining defendant. The defendant filed its answer, asserting as an affirmative defense the comparative fault of the other defendants who had been dismissed. The plaintiff then filed a second amended complaint, renaming those defendants pursuant to TCA § 20-1-119. The trial court ruled that the plaintiff’s claims were barred, and the plaintiff appealed.
The Tennessee statute at issue generally provides that in civil actions in which a defendant alleges the comparative fault of another person in its answer, and the plaintiff would otherwise be barred from bringing suit against the person by the statute of limitations, the plaintiff may amend the complaint to add the person as a defendant within 90 days. The only question on appeal was whether the plaintiff in the case properly added the defendants to the second amended complaint pursuant to that statute, in light of the fact that the defendants were once parties to the original complaint.