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Topic: 2015 Tennessee Legislation

2015 Tennessee Legislature Expands Real Estate Sale Disclosure Requirements to Include Sink Holes

Posted on Sep 27 2015 2:01PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

Tennessee has long required certain disclosures when a residential property is sold.  Some of these disclosures are found in T.C.A. § 66-5-201 et. al. The 2015 Tennessee legislature has now added the additional requirement that all sellers of residential real property disclose the presence of any known sink hole on the property.  See Public Chapter 262.  This must be done in writing and prior to entering into a contract with the purchaser of the property.  Under the statute, the term “sink hole” is defined as follows: 

 

(2) For purposes of this section, “sinkhole”:

(A) Means a subterranean void created by the dissolution of limestone or dolostone strata resulting from groundwater erosion, causing a surface subsidence of soil, sediment, or rock; and

(B) Is indicated through the contour lines on the property's recorded plat map.

 

This new statute went into effect on July 1, 2015 and takes effect for all contracts entered into on or after that date.  This new statute is found in TCA § 66-5-212.  As a result, it is important for sellers of real property to inform purchasers of sink holes on their property.  If the seller of real property does not make this disclosure (as well as other required disclosures) the purchaser has certain remedies under Tennessee law.  Specifically, TCA § 66-5-208(a) provides as follows:

 

(a) The purchaser's remedies for an owner's misrepresentation on a residential property disclosure statement shall be either:

(1) An action for actual damages suffered as a result of defects existing in the property as of the date of execution of the real estate purchase contract; provided, that the owner has actually presented to a purchaser the disclosure statement required by this part, and of which the purchaser was not aware at the earlier of closing or occupancy by the purchaser, in the event of a sale, or occupancy in the event of a lease with the option to purchase. Any action brought under this subsection (a) shall be commenced within one (1) year from the date the purchaser received...

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TAGS: Real Estate, 2015 Tennessee Legislation Comments [0]
  
 

Tennessee’s One Year Personal Injury Statute of Limitations Extended to Two Years when Criminal Charges are Brought

Posted on Sep 13 2015 7:04PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

The 2015 Tennessee legislature passed Public Chapter No. 388 that extends the typical one year statute of limitation for personal injury causes of action (as well as other cause of actions) in certain situations.  This new law went into effect for all causes of action that accrue on or after July 1, 2015.   This statute basically extends the typical one year statute of limitations for cases involving personal injury, libel, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and compensatory or punitive damage claims under Federal Civil Rights statutes.  In order to take advantage of the two year statute of limitations extension, a criminal charge must be brought pertaining to the incident in question within one year of the incident by (1) a law enforcement officer; (2) a District Attorney General; or (3) a grand jury.  This statute only operates to extend the statute of limitations for the person injured by the criminal conduct. 

 

The entire new statute subsection (found in T.C.A. § 28-3-104(a)) provides as follows:

 

(a)(1) Except as provided in subdivision (a)(2), the following actions shall be commenced within one (1) year after the cause of action accrued:

(A) Actions for libel, injuries to the person, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, or breach of marriage promise;

(B) Civil actions for compensatory or punitive damages, or both, brought under the federal civil rights statutes; and

(C) Actions for statutory penalties.

(2) A cause of action listed in subdivision (a)(1) shall be commenced within two (2) years after the cause of action accrued, if:

(A) Criminal charges are brought against any person alleged to have caused or contributed to the injury;

(B) The conduct, transaction, or occurrence that gives rise to the cause of action for civil damages is the subject of a criminal prosecution commenced within one (1) year by:

(i) A law enforcement officer;

(ii) A district attorney general; or

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TAGS: 2015 Tennessee Legislation, Statute of Limitations Comments [0]
  
 

Employers Cannot Take Adverse Employment Actions Against Employees for Transporting or Storing Firearms in Employer Parking Area in Tennessee

Posted on Aug 16 2015 8:41PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

The 2015 Tennessee Legislature passed a new law found in Public Chapter No. 80 that provides protections to employees who keep firearms in their vehicle in employer provided parking areas.  This law created a new code section found at T.C.A. § 50-1-312.  Basically, this law provides that employers cannot take adverse employment actions against employees solely for transporting or storing a firearm or firearm ammunition in an employer parking area.  If an employee is discharged or subjected to an adverse employment action in violation of this law, then the employee will have a cause of action against the employer to recover damages as well as attorney’s fees and costs. 

 

Interestingly, the employee has the initial burden of establishing a prima facie case that the adverse employment action was based solely on the transporting or storing of a firearm or firearm ammunition in the employer’s parking area.  Once the employee establishes this fact, the burden shifts to the employer to prove there was one or more legitimate other reasons that existed for the employee’s discharge or adverse employment action.  The statute of limitations for bringing a cause of action under this statute is one year from the date of termination or the date of the adverse employment action. 

 

The key sections of this new statute are as follows:

 

(b)(1)(A) No employer shall discharge or take any adverse employment action against an employee solely for transporting or storing a firearm or firearm ammunition in an employer parking area in a manner consistent with§ 39-17-1313(a).

(B) An employee discharged, or subject to an adverse employment action, in violation of subdivision (b)(1)(A) shall have a cause of action against the employer to enjoin future acts in violation of this section and to recover economic damages plus reasonable attorney fees and costs.

…………

(2) In any action brought pursuant to this section, the employee shall have the burden of establishing a prima facie case of discharge, or adverse employment action, based solely on the employee's transporting or storing a firearm or firearm ammunition in the employer's parking area in a manner consistent with § 39-17-1313(a). If the employee satisfies this burden, the burden shall then be on the employer to produce evidence that one (1) or more legitimate reasons existed for the employee's discharge or adverse employment action. The burden on the employer is one of production and not persuasion. If the employer produces such evidence, the presumption of discharge, or adverse employment action, raised by the employee's prima facie case is rebutted, and the burden shifts to the employee to demonstrate...

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TAGS: 2015 Tennessee Legislation, Employment Law Comments [0]
  
 

Tennessee Legislature Extends Protections to Landowners for Shooting Activities on Their Land

Posted on Aug 2 2015 4:58PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

The 2015 Tennessee Legislature passed a new law extending protections to landowners for certain shooting activities performed on their land.  Specifically, Public Chapter No. 53 was signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam on April 6, 2015 and it extended protections for certain activities including “sporting clays, shooting sports, and target shooting, including archery and shooting range activities”.  Specifically, T.C.A. § 70-7-102 provides the following protections for landowners in Tennessee:

 

(a) The landowner, lessee, occupant, or any person in control of land or premises owes no duty of care to keep such land or premises safe for entry or use by others for such recreational activities as hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, water sports, white water rafting, canoeing, hiking, sightseeing, animal riding, bird watching, dog training, boating, caving, fruit and vegetable picking for the participant's own use, nature and historical studies and research, rock climbing, skeet and trap shooting, sporting clays, shooting sports, and target shooting, including archery and shooting range activities, skiing, off-road vehicle riding, and cutting or removing wood for the participant's own use, nor shall such landowner be required to give any warning of hazardous conditions, uses of, structures, or activities on such land or premises to any person entering on such land or premises for such purposes, except as provided in § 70-7-104.

 

(b) The landowner, lessee, occupant, or any person in control of land or premises owes no duty of care to keep such land or premises safe for entry or use by others for recreational noncommercial aircraft operations or recreational noncommercial ultra light vehicle operations on private airstrips except as to known hazards or defects and except as provided in § 70-7-104.

 

As you can see, this statute already provided significant protections to landowners and now those protections are expanded further (to sporting clays, shooting sports, and target shooting, including archery and shooting range activities).  Additionally, T.C.A. § 70-7-103 was also amended to provide that if a landowner gives permission to another to perform these activities on their land, they are not extending any assurance that the premises is safe for such purpose.  The entire T.C.A. § 70-7-103 provides the following: 

 

Any landowner, lessee, occupant, or any person in control of the land or premises or such person's agent who gives permission to another person to hunt, fish, trap, camp, engage in water sports, participate in white water rafting or canoeing, hike, sightsee, ride animals, bird watch, train...

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TAGS: 2015 Tennessee Legislation, Immunity, Tennessee Premises Liability Comments [0]
  
 

New Tennessee Law Provides Protection from Personal Liability for Certain Volunteer Drivers

Posted on Jul 18 2015 3:50PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

The Tennessee legislature passed a new law that provides protections for volunteer drivers in Tennessee.  Specifically, Public Chapter No. 152 was signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam on April 16, 2015.  This law is called the “Protection of Volunteer – Insured Drivers of the Elderly (PROVIDE) Act.”  This law can certainly have an impact on certain automobile accident cases.  Specifically, this law provides that volunteer drivers who provide transportation for senior citizens through a charitable organization or human service agency cannot be found individually liable for any civil damages beyond the insurance policy limits collectible for the accident. 

 

This new law protects the at fault driver as long as their fault consists of simple negligence.  However, it is important to note that this statute does not provide this limited immunity when the conduct of the voluntary driver constitutes gross negligence, or willful and wanton misconduct.  Additionally, the human services agency or charitable organization must maintain liability insurance coverage at least equal to the minimum limits set forth in T.C.A. § 29-20-403 of the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act (which provides for minimum policy limits of $300,000.00/$700,000.00).

 

This new statute takes effect for actions that arise on or after July 1, 2015.  The entire statute provides as follows:

 

(a) As used in this section:

(1) "Charitable organization" means any charitable unit of a religious or civic group exempt from taxation under 26 U.S.C. § 501, including those supported wholly or partially by private donations;

(2) "Human service agency" means any human service unit, clinic, senior citizens program, congregate meal center, or day care center for the elderly, whether supported wholly or partially by public funds;

(3) "Volunteer" means an individual providing volunteer transportation who may receive reimbursement for actual expenses or an allowance to defray expenses of operating the vehicle used to provide transportation services, but does not receive compensation for the person's time; and

(4) "Volunteer tr...

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TAGS: Damages, Automobile/Motorcycle Liability, 2015 Tennessee Legislation, Immunity Comments [0]
  
 

Tennessee Legislature Clarifies that Franchisee Employees Are Not To Be Deemed Employees of the Franchisor

Posted on Jun 20 2015 4:29PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

The Tennessee legislature in Public Chapter No. 114 clarified Tennessee law on who is considered the employer of franchisee employees.  This was signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam on April 10, 2015 and took effect immediately.  Specifically, employees of franchisees as well as franchisees themselves will not be “deemed to be an employee of the franchisor for any purpose.”  This obviously is important in several different areas of the law.  It can certainly be important for numerous employment law issues including Tennessee employee discrimination or fair labor standard cases.  Additionally, if employees are deemed to be employed by a franchisor, this could lead to an increased level of litigation against franchisors for claims based in premises liability or automobile liability (when a franchisee is involved in an incident or claim).

 

The Tennessee legislature felt it was important to clarify this issue mainly because of concerns for litigation as well as recent changes in the law on this issue at the national level.  The NLRB recently found that McDonald’s corporation is a joint employer of franchisee employees and is therefore responsible for the actions of the franchisee on labor related issues.  This has caused great concern among franchisor’s for their possible joint liability in certain circumstances.

 

This new law in Tennessee is an attempt to clarify that under Tennessee law, franchisors will not be considered employers of franchisee employees.  This does not mean that the Federal NLRB findings are nullified.  However, it is a step in the right direction within the context of Tennessee law to protect the important legal separate relationship between franchisors and franchisees.  The entire statute will be found in TCA Title 50, Chapter 1, Part 2 (it has not yet been assigned a formal statute number at this time).  The new statute in its entirety provides as follows:

 

(a) Notwithstanding any voluntary agreement entered into between the United States department of labor and a franchisee, neither a franchisee nor a franchisee's employee shall be deemed to...


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TAGS: Tennessee Tort Reform, 2015 Tennessee Legislation, Employment Law Comments [0]
  
 
Author

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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Tennessee Defense Litigation Blog
Jason A. Lee, Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC
611 Commerce Street, Suite 2603
Nashville, TN 37203
Phone: 615-540-1004
E-mail: jlee@burrowlee.com

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