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Turner v. Jordan

Supreme Court of Tennessee
957 S.W.2d 815 (1997)


Terry Williams, an inpatient at a psychiatric hospital, was diagnosed by Harold Jordan, M.D. (defendant) as a danger to himself and others. Dr. Jordan wrote in Williams’s medical records that Williams was aggressive, grandiose, intimidating, combative, and dangerous. Despite Dr. Jordan’s medical conclusions concerning Williams, Dr. Jordan did not medicate, restrain, or transfer Williams to another facility. Later, Williams violently attacked Emma Turner, a nurse working at the hospital. Turner and her husband (plaintiffs) sued Dr. Jordan, alleging medical negligence. Williams was not made a party to the lawsuit. Turner claimed that Dr. Jordan had breached his duty to use reasonable care in Williams’s treatment and that this breach proximately caused Turner’s injuries. At trial, witnesses’ testifying on behalf of Turner stated that Dr. Jordan’s actions fell below the standard of care. The trial court instructed the jury to consider Williams’s intentional conduct in determining Dr. Jordan’s comparative fault. The jury found Dr. Jordan 100 percent at fault and awarded Turner over $1.1 million in damages. The trial court agreed with the jury’s verdict but not with its allocation of fault. The trial court granted Dr. Jordan’s motion for a new trial. Turner appealed. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment. The Supreme Court of Tennessee granted certiorari to review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Anderson, C.J.)

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