HOMELIFT OF NASHVILLE, INC.
January 19, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Wilson County No. 2010-CV-662 John
D. Wootten, Jr., Judge
appeal involves a claim for attorney's fees and other
litigation expenses incurred by a third-party defendant in a
wrongful death action. The third-party plaintiff filed the
third-party complaint against the third-party defendant
seeking indemnity. A jury found both the third-party
plaintiff and third-party defendant at fault for the death in
the underlying action, but because the third-party plaintiff
was allocated more than 50% of the fault, the jury determined
that the third-party plaintiff was not entitled to
indemnification. The third-party defendant filed a post-trial
motion for attorney's fees and expenses incurred in
defending the third-party action. The trial court denied the
motion, concluding that it lacked subject matter
jurisdiction. Although we conclude that it did not lack
subject matter jurisdiction, we affirm the denial of the
third-party defendant's motion.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Stephen W. Elliott and Fetlework Balite-Panelo, Nashville,
Tennessee, for the appellant, Porta, Inc.
Jefferson C. Orr and Joshua K. Chesser, Nashville, Tennessee,
for the appellee, Homelift of Nashville, Inc.
Neal McBrayer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Frank G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S., and Andy D. Bennett,
NEAL McBRAYER, JUDGE
February 2010, Ms. Jimmie Dean Browning fell into an elevator
shaft in her home and died as a result of her injuries. Later
that year, her estate filed a wrongful death action against
Homelift of Nashville, Inc. ("Homelift"), the
seller and installer of the elevator, and ThyssenKrupp Access
Corporation ("ThyssenKrupp"), an alleged successor
to the manufacturer of the elevator. The suit, which was
filed in the Circuit Court of Wilson County, Tennessee,
asserted claims of negligence, strict products liability,
breach of warranty, breach of contract, and violations of the
Tennessee Consumer Protection Act.
September 14, 2012, Homelift filed a third-party complaint
for indemnity against Porta, Inc. ("Porta"), the
alleged manufacturer of certain "interlock devices"
installed on the elevator doors. The third-party complaint
averred, in relevant part, as follows:
In January 2010, as part of its completion of the elevator
installation at the Browning home, HomeLift installed three
interlock devices at the Browning home, one on the hoistway
door on the basement floor, one on the hoistway door on the
main floor, and one on the hoistway door on the second floor
of the home.
In its lawsuit, Ms. Browning's Estate claims that her
death was caused in whole or in part by the failure of the
interlock device which was installed by HomeLift ...