RONALD TIMMONS v. METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY, TENNESSEE (Tenn. Ct. App. June 15, 2009)
Plaintiff filed this Governmental Tort Liability Act action against the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County for injuries sustained during his arrest for driving under the influence following a vehicular accident. Plaintiff contends the police officers who arrested him were negligent in failing to recognize that he was not intoxicated but in diabetic shock, in failing to recognize that he could be restrained and handcuffed while standing, instead of in the prone position, and that he sustained a spiral, comminuted fracture of the humerus while an officer was pulling his right arm behind his back in an effort to cuff his hands.
Following a bench trial, the trial court found the officers were negligent in the manner in which they assessed the threat posed by Plaintiff and were negligent in the decision to handcuff him in the prone position, which caused his injuries. The trial court, therefore, held the Metropolitan Government liable for the officers negligence, assessed 100% of the fault to the officers, and awarded Plaintiff $140,000 in damages. On appeal, the Metropolitan Government insists it is immune from liability because the officers' actions were not the result of negligence but, it contends, the officers consciously and volitionally used an excessive amount of force that constituted the intentional tort of battery. Alternatively, the Government contends, if it is liable under a negligence theory, the trial court erred by apportioning no fault to Plaintiff.
We have determined the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court's findings that Plaintiff's injuries resulted from the officers' negligent acts and omissions, that the Metropolitan Government is liable for the officers' negligence, that Plaintiff was not contributorily negligent, and that Plaintiff is entitled to recover damages in the amount of $140,000. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court in all respects.
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