Tennessee Supreme Court To Livestream Video Conference Oral Arguments April 28

April 27, 2021

The Tennessee Supreme Court has one case set for its April 28, 2021 docket. This case will be heard using livestream video conferencing. It will be livestreamed to: https://www.youtube.com/user/TNCourts/featured at 9 a.m. CDT/10 a.m. EDT. The details of the case are as follows:

  • Steven Kampmeyer et al. v. State of Tennessee– This appeal involves interpretation of the Claims Commission Act (the “Act”), which authorizes certain suits against the State of Tennessee, and the procedures associated with the Act. On December 11, 2017, Steven Kampmeyer sustained serious injuries in a car accident involving employees of the Tennessee Department of Transportation and their vehicles. In August of 2018, Mr. Kampmeyer filed notice of a claim for damages against the State in the Division of Claims Administration (“DCA”) related to his personal injuries. Approximately four months later, on December 5, 2018, Mr. Kampmeyer and his wife, Melissa Kampmeyer (collectively “Plaintiffs”), filed a joint complaint against the State in the Tennessee Claims Commission related to the accident. In the complaint, Mrs. Kampmeyer asserted a claim for loss of consortium, which was not included in the husband’s August 2018 notice to the DCA. The State moved to dismiss the loss of consortium claim on the basis that Plaintiffs failed to file notice of that claim in the DCA within the one-year statute of limitations from the date of the accident, as required by the Act. The Claims Commission granted the State’s motion and dismissed the loss of consortium claim with prejudice. On appeal to the Court of Appeals, Plaintiffs argued that, so long as the filing is within the one-year statute of limitations, Tennessee law allows for a claim, first mistakenly filed as a complaint in the Claims Commission, to serve as notice and be transferred to the Board of Claims for processing rather than be dismissed. Therefore, Plaintiffs argued that because their complaint was timely filed it should have been transferred that same day and counts as sufficient notice under the Act. The Court of Appeals disagreed and affirmed the trial court’s dismissal. The court reasoned that the wife’s loss of consortium claim is a separate action, apart from the husband’s claim for personal injury damages, which required separate notice in the DCA. The court concluded that the plain language of the Act meant the loss of consortium claim was barred. On appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court, Plaintiffs renew their arguments from below and contend that allowing the loss of consortium claim to be transferred rather than dismissed promotes the Court’s policy to decide controversies between parties on the merits. The State argues that Plaintiffs did not adhere to the notice requirement, that the husband’s notice to the DCA cannot serve as notice of a separate claim for loss of consortium, and that no exception should be granted because the Act demands strict compliance.