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Uncertain Waters: Summary Judgment in Tennessee


Rob Ratton’s article “Uncertain Waters: Summary Judgment in Tennessee” was featured in HR Professionals Magazine on October 6, 2015.

When I was a baby prosecutor for the Shelby County District Attorney’s office, I put on what I believed was the most spot on arson trial in the history of criminal prosecution. I had eyewitnesses who saw the defendant running from the house and experts to describe how the fire was started. Even the defendant’s own daughter reluctantly admitted that her dad told her he got mad and “done burnt up Jimmie’s place.” When the jury came back not guilty, I was floored. I spoke with the jury foreman and asked what I possibly could have done differently. With a rather sheepish grin, he said “we all knew that the defendant burned that house down, we just really hated that homeowner.” To be fair, the homeowner was not an easy guy to like.

It’s moments like these that support comedian Norm Crosby’s overly cynical adage, “When you go into court you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.” It is also moments like these that explain why we, as employment lawyers, are fighting to keep you out from in front of a jury. At the best case scenario, jury trials are an expensive undertakings. It is not uncommon for a litigation budget for a jury trial to be well over $100,000. The expense is obviously considerably greater if you do not win. A California jury granted a single plaintiff over $190,000,000.00 for a sexual harassment and retaliation case against a prominent Memphis business. The risk for runaway damages and the expense of litigation sends us down a path hopefully headed to summary judgment.

In the article, Rob examines the following topics:

To read the full article, please visit HR Professionals Magazine.


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