Saturday, March 29, 2014


On November 30, 2010, Plaintiff Cynthia Christian was an invited guest for a function at Ms. Lassie's Lodge in Campbell County, Tennessee.  The Lodge was regularly rented for parties and other functions via the nearby Hampton Inn.  Ms. Christian arrived when it was still daylight, and the function ended after dark.

Before or during the function, an owner of The Lodge in charge of the event turned on some exterior lights.  However, the lights installed and  intended to illuminate the parking area and walkway leading to The Lodge were not operative.  As Ms. Christian walked from The Lodge to her car she stepped into a hole in the parking area which could not be seen in the dark.  She suffered personal injuries which resulted in more than $50,000 in medical expenses.  She later sued The Lodge for its negligence in failing to provide adequate lighting on the walkway and parking area for guests.

The Lodge asked the Circuit Court for Campbell County to dismiss the case claiming that: (1) it had no notice that the lights in question were out and (2) despite the lack of lighting Ms. Christian was more than 50 percent at fault for her fall and injuries.  In other words, the company who operated The Lodge for profit claimed that it had no idea its lights did not work and that if Ms. Christian could not see in the dark that was her problem.  The Lodge maintained this disingenuous defense even after The Lodge staff testified that: 1) the owner was in fact aware that the lights for the walkway and parking area were inoperative before the evening function; 2) they had no procedure for the inspection and maintenance of the exterior lights; and 3) the day after the fall and injury The Lodge staff inspected the lights and found as many as 14 exterior flood lights inoperative including those for the walkway and parking area.

Despite The Lodge's clear and actual notice of its inoperable lights, its failure to inspect or replace the lights, and the danger created by the lack of lighting, the Circuit Court inexplicably dismissed the case.  The Circuit Court found that there was insufficient evidence to show that The Lodge had notice of the lighting issue prior to Ms. Christian's fall - despite The Lodge's own apparent admission to the contrary.

Ms. Christian appealed, and on March 28, 2014, the Tennessee Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Circuit Court properly finding that a jury could reasonably find that : 1) The Lodge had actual notice of the inoperative lights, the associated danger and a duty to act reasonably to remedy the issue; and/or 2) the lighting problem existed long enough that The Lodge through reasonable care and diligence should have discovered the danger and replaced the lights.  The case was remanded for trial by jury on all issues. Read the full opinion here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tractor Trailer Collision Leads to Record Settlememt

In one of the biggest personal injury settlements in Pennsylvania history, a family that suffered death and injuries after being rear-ended by a tractor trailer has received a $26.1 million settlement.
In 2010, the three Plaintiffs were driving on I-80 in Pennsylvania when they came upon stalled construction traffic.  While Plaintiffs were stopped on the highway the Defendant tractor trailer driver failed to stop and slammed into the rear of Plaintiffs' car at over 70 miles per hour.  One Plaintiff was killed instantly and another suffered a TBA (traumatic brain injury).
The driver was operating his tractor-trailer for GLC Transportation Inc. and Great Lake Cheese companies in Ohio and New York.  The amount of the settlement is primarily based on the wrongful death and lifelong injuries and care ($8 million life care plan) which resulted from the collision.  In addition, it was shown that the tractor trailer driver  ignored construction signs as he pressed his rig in excess of 72 miles per hour in the construction zone.  
Obtaining a settlement of this magnitude is the result of a huge amount of work on the part of tractor-trailer and truck injury attorneys.  Many truck drivers and trucking companies maintain only minimum trucking insurance limits of $750,000-$2 million.  The trucking accident attorneys of the Law Office of Stephen A. Burroughs are familiar with trucking insurance and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations which help those injured in truck accidents access multiple levels of insurance coverage in trucking cases.  By holding truck drivers, trucking companies, trucking brokers, and sometimes even the shipping customers, accountable for negligent brokering, negligent loading or illegally ordering truck drivers to speed or to drive while fatigued additional layers of insurance coverage are triggered.  If you or a loved one has been injured due to a negligent or reckless truck driver - make sure you hire an attorney experienced in trucking accidents.  Remember -a  trucking accident is not just another car wreck.      

Saturday, March 15, 2014


The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has approved a new federal safety standard that will improve the safety of all carriages and strollers sold after September 10, 2015.

The new standard was developed due to the CPSC’s review of more than 1,300 stroller safety incidents involving children 4 years old and younger from 2008 through 2013.  Many of these incidents led to product liability cases based on stroller design and manufacturing defects and failure to warn.  The incident numbers to-date  show that defective strollers and carriages resulted in 4 child deaths, 14 hospitalizations, and 391 injuries.  The most common injury was severe pinching or amputations due to hinge design and placement.

The new safety standard requires that all strollers and carriages be made, tested and labeled to minimize the hazards seen in such incidents.  The design changes will include:

Hinges which will not pinch, cut, or amputate fingers or arms
Wheels resistant to breakage and detachment
Better parking brakes and redesigned locking mechanisms
Child-proof restraints and more secure seat belts
Structural integrity and improved stability

If you have any doubt that your child’s current stroller is safe check with the CPSC for recalled models.  Many manufacturers will repair or replace their product to protect your child.  

Friday, March 14, 2014


The AP is reporting that the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency (NHTSA),  two congressional committees and the Justice Department are investigating why it took so long for GM to recall 1.6 million cars with defective ignition switches.  GM has acknowledged knowing about deadly ignition switches at least a decade ago, but it intentionally or negligently failed to recall the affected compact cars until February 2014.  In the interim, competing reports relate between 13 and more than 300 injuries or deaths to the defective ignition switches. Read the full AP story here.   

The product liability attorneys of the Law Office of Stephen A. Burroughs are actively following the developments in the GM defective ignition hearings and litigation. The firm handles Tennessee product liability cases throughout the state. Tennessee has a one (1) year statute of limitations and a ten (10) year statute of repose for injuries or deaths related to defective products such as GM's Chevy Cobalt, Pontiac G5, Saturn Ion, Chevy HHR, Pontiac Solstice or Saturn Sky.  This means that if you or someone you know was seriously injured due to a defective GM ignition switch, and you just recently learned of the problem, you can likely still bring a claim against GM in Tennessee or another state.  Call attorney Bryan L. Capps or Stephen A. Burroughs for a free consultation.    


GM knew as early as 2001 that its ignition switches could fail during normal operation.  GM knew that when the ignition failed that the driver would lose the use of power steering, anti-lock brakes, and airbags.  They investigated and found a "partial fix" leaving hundreds of thousands of GM owners unknowingly vulnerable to the defective ignition and associated dangers.  It then knew of and failed to act on multiple deaths caused by the failures as it denied and defended against suits alleging the defect.  GM now says it made a "business decision" not to act.    Read the full story here. 


Reuters reports that U.S. safety regulators have recorded 303 deaths when airbags failed to deploy in 1.6 million compact cars recalled last month by General Motors Co, according to a study released Thursday night by a safety watchdog group.

Evidence is mounting that GM knowingly sold vehicles while withholding the truth about defects in its ignition system.  
Read the full story here - 303 Deaths related to GM ignition

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

GM Defective Ignition Key - 13 Wrongful Deaths To-Date

On February 13, 2014, General Motors (GM) recalled 780,000 Chevrolet Cobalts and various Pontiac models for repair of a faulty ignition switch that has been found to cause the ignition key to slip out of the run position.  GM is aware of situations where the key has slipped due to heavy key chains and due to the vehicles hitting hard bumps in the road.  When this occurs, the engine can shut off leading to loss of power to vital systems such as power steering, airbags and anti-lock brakes.

On February 25, 2014, GM expanded the recall to cover certain Chevy, Pontiac, and Saturn cars, bringing the total recall to as high as 1.4 million vehicles.

GM has acknowledged the defect caused or contributed to 31 crashes involving airbags which did not deploy and the deaths of 13 motorists. Evidence from civil lawsuits shows that GM knew about the Cobalt ignition defect as far back as 2004, but GM issued no recall.  This and other evidence has led to the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York opening a criminal investigation into GM’s knowledge of the ignition defect.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of this defect in a Chevy Cobalt, Pontiac G5, Saturn Ion, Chevy HHR, Pontiac Solstice or Saturn Sky, please call the Law Office of Stephen A. Burroughs  for a free consultation.  GM may have culpability based on the defect and the failure to warn consumers of the known danger.  

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Have you been denied health, disability or life insurance benefits through your employer-sponsored health plan?  Have you been to told you have an ERISA plan and must follow the claim and appeal procedures in your ERISA policy?  If so, you may need a Knoxville ERISA lawyer to help you understand the ERISA claim and appeal process.

ERISA stands for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.  It was designed to protect the interests of employees/participants and their beneficiaries who depend on benefits from private employee benefit plans.  Unfortunately the law is often used to successfully deny needed health insurance benefits.   ERISA sets rules and standards for how insurance companies and/or businesses administer ERISA-based health, disability and life insurance plans.  These standards include clearly written rules and procedures for denial of claims or benefits and an appeal process to challenge such denials. 

If you are denied health insurance or other benefits, your ERISA plan administrator must give you the reason for denial in writing and in a manner you can understand.  It also must give you a reasonable opportunity for a fair and full review of the decision.  An employee or plan member must exhaust the appeal process before any lawsuit can be filed for benefit denial.  Generally any such suit must be filed in federal court following a complex procedure to prepare the case for judicial review. 

If you believe you have been improperly denied benefits under an ERISA policy or plan, how you build the record during the ERISA appeal process is key to whether you win the appeal and to whether you  win an ERISA lawsuit.  The Law Office of Stephen A. Burroughs handles ERISA appeals and suits and can give you advice on how to proceed during the appeal phase.  You may also want to view the following for information on your ERISA plan and the appeal and lawsuit process.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Manufactured Home Arbitration Clause Held Unconscionable and Unenforceable

The Tennessee Court of Appeals in Richard A. Berent v. CMH Homes, Inc., et al., ruled that an arbitration clause which forces all of plaintiff home buyer's claims to arbitration but allows finance company access to courts is unconscionable and unenforceable.  Applying the Tennessee Supreme Court's holding in Taylor v. Butler, 142 S.W.3d 277 (Tenn. 1996), the Court of Appeals held against CMH Homes, Inc. and Vanderbilt Mortgage ruling that the arbitration clause must fail.  The opinion seems to invite review by the TSC as to whether its holding in Taylor remains viable.  Read the full opinion here.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

GM Recalls 200,000 More SUVs Due to Fire Risk

General Motors has issued a recall of an additional 200,000 SUVs due to a defect in the power window and door module that can lead to a fire. The company said that moisture can seep into the driver-side door and cause the electronics to overheat and short circuit, posing a fire risk. The recall covers 2006-07 models of the Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, Saab 9-7x, Isuzu Ascender, 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer EXT and GMC Envoy XL.  
Full Story at:

Friday, December 21, 2012

TWCA reviews whether an employee suffered a compensable injury that left him partially disabled


Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, this workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law.

The employee sought workers' compensation benefits, alleging that he injured his back at work on September 30, 2008, and is now totally and permanently disabled. The employer denied that the employee sustained a compensable work-related injury, but alternatively argued that the employee is not totally and permanently disabled.

The trial court concluded that the employee sustained a compensable work-related injury and awarded 80% permanent partial disability benefits. The employer has appealed, arguing that the evidence preponderates against the trial court's finding that the injury was compensable and that, even if the employee proved a compensable injury, the evidence preponderates against the award of 80% permanent partial disability benefits. We affirm the trial court's judgment.

Opinion available at:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Court reviews a case involving an automobile accident

EDNA H. IRWIN, v. CHRISTOPHER MARTIN ANDERSON (Tenn. Ct. App. December 18, 2012)

Plaintiff received serious injuries in an automobile accident, when she turned left in front of the oncoming vehicle operated by defendant. The suit resulted in a jury trial wherein the jury returned a verdict for defendant, which was approved by the Trial Judge. On appeal, we affirm the Trial Judge's Judgment.

Opinion available at: