Comparative fault - T.C.A. § 16-15-735 requires pre-trial notification to the plaintiff of possible additional parties at fault in a General Sessions case

Posted on Sep 24 2012 7:58AM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

I recently came across a Tennessee statute that is very important to remember in any Tennessee General Sessions case.  T.C.A. § 16-15-735 requires the defendant to provide notification to the opposing party and the clerk of the court, in writing, at least 48 hours prior to the hearing, of the identify of other individual who may be at fault.  T.C.A. § 16-15-735 provides as follows:


(a) In cases or controversies arising in a court of general sessions, if a defendant feels that the defendant is either not at fault or that another person is also at fault, the defendant is to notify the opposing party or parties and the clerk of the court in writing forty-eight (48) hours prior to the scheduled date of the hearing of the names, if known, of the other person or persons at fault. If the defendant fails to so notify, the plaintiff shall be entitled to a continuance.

(b) After receiving notice that additional defendants may exist, the clerk of the court shall notify the plaintiff of this fact. The clerk shall automatically continue the hearing for thirty (30) days following notification to the plaintiff that additional defendants exist so the plaintiff can issue service and amend the warrant to include any new defendants.


This statute is important to keep in mind in order to avoid a trial continuance in the statute where the defendant is ready to move forward with trial, has experts in attendance at trial and has witnesses subpoenaed to trial.  The statute automatically allows the plaintiff to receive a continuance of the trial if the defendant fails to comply with this notice requirement and plans to assert fault against individuals who are not parties.


Additionally, this statute provides a basis for the defendant to receive an automatic continuance if there is another party at fault.  So if the defendant needs a continuance for some reason, the provision of notice to the plaintiff and the clerk under this statute provides an automatic 30 day continuance of the trial.  This is an important statute to keep in mind in a General Sessions case if there are people the defendant intends to assert fault against that are not parties to the case. 


TAGS: Tennessee Comparative Fault, Civil Procedure
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Jason A. Lee is a Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC. He practices in all areas of defense litigation inside and outside of Tennessee.

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Jason A. Lee, Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC
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E-mail: jlee@burrowlee.com