Sunday, February 3, 2013

McIntyre v. Balentine case brief

McIntyre v. Balentine case summary
833 S.W.2d 52 (Tenn. 1992)
Tort Law

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Plaintiff sought review of an order of the Court of Appeals for Hardin County (Tennessee), which affirmed the trial court's ruling refusing to instruct the jury on comparative negligence and allowing evidence of plaintiff's intoxication to be admitted pursuant to Tenn. Code. Ann. 55-10-408(b) (1988) in a civil case.

-Plaintiff and defendant were involved in an automobile accident resulting in severe injuries to plaintiff.
-Based upon evidence introduced at trial establishing that plaintiff had been intoxicated at the time, the jury returned a verdict in favor of defendant, holding that plaintiff's contributory negligence completely barred plaintiff from any recovery.
-Plaintiff appealed.


-The court of appeals rejected plaintiff's arguments that the jury should have been instructed on the doctrine of comparative negligence, as it was not the law at the time and held that the presumption of intoxication provided by Tenn. Statute (1988) was admissible evidence in a civil case.

-After replacing the contributory negligence system with a comparative negligence system, the court remanded the case for retrial in accordance with this new system and affirmed the introduction of the evidence regarding plaintiff's intoxication as a violation of a penal statute was negligence per se in Tennessee.

There are two basic forms of comparative fault which are referred to as either "pure" or "modified." In the "pure" form, a plaintiff's damages are reduced in proportion to the percentage negligence attributed to him; for example, a plaintiff responsible for 90 percent of the negligence that caused his injuries nevertheless may recover 10 percent of his damages.
-In the "modified" form, plaintiffs recover as in pure jurisdictions, but only if the plaintiff's negligence either (1) does not exceed ("50 percent" jurisdictions) or (2) is less than ("49 percent" jurisdictions) the defendant's negligence.

The court replaced the common law defense of contributory negligence with system of comparative fault, held that the criminal presumption of intoxication established by statute was admissible evidence, and remanded case to the trial court for a new trial utilizing the comparative fault system.

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