Torts II, Pages 626–630

McIntyre v. Balentine

Supreme Court of Tennessee, 1992

Facts:

Plaintiff and defendant were in an automobile accident in the early morning. Defendant's tractor hit plaintiff's pickup when plaintiff pulled out to go the same direction as defendant. Both parties had been drinking, plaintiff's blood was 0.17% alcohol, and defendant was speeding.

Procedural History:

  • The jury's verdict stated:

    We, the jury, find the plaintiff and the defendant equally at fault in this accident; therefore, we rule in favor of the defendant.

  • The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that comparative negligence was not law in Tennessee.

Issue:

What is the law on comparative negligence in Tennessee?

(Old) Rule:

Page 627, Paragraph 2–3

A plaintiff's contributory negligence completely bars recovery

Exceptions:

  • Where defendant's conduct was intentional

  • Where defendant's conduct was gross negligence

  • Where defendant had the "last clear change" to avoid plaintiff's injury

  • Where plaintiff's negligence was "remote"

Reasoning:

Contributory negligence is "outmoded and unjustified". Forty-five other states abandoned it. Tennessee should too.

Rule/Holding:

Tennessee now adopts the 49% modified comparative negligence rule.

Judgment:

Reversed in part and remanded.


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