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Mitchell v. State

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

September 29, 2017

JOE MITCHELL
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Assigned on Briefs June 1, 2017

         Appeal from the Claims Commission for the Middle Division No. T20160698 Robert N. Hibbett, Commissioner

         Joe Mitchell ("Mitchell") appeals the July 22, 2016 order of the Claims Commission for the Middle Division ("the Claims Commission") granting summary judgment to the State of Tennessee ("the State") on Mitchell's claim for negligence. We find and hold that the State made a properly supported motion for summary judgment negating an essential element of Mitchell's claim, i.e., injury or loss, and that Mitchell failed to produce evidence showing a genuine disputed issue of material fact. We, therefore, affirm the grant of summary judgment.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Claims Commission Affirmed; Case Remanded

          Joe Mitchell, Only, Tennessee, pro se appellant

          Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter; Andrée S. Blumstein, Solicitor General; and Charlotte Davis, Assistant Attorney General for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

          D. MICHAEL SWINEY, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which ANDY D. BENNETT and KENNY W. ARMSTRONG, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          D. MICHAEL SWINEY, CHIEF JUDGE

         Background

         Mitchell is an inmate housed at the Turney Center Industrial Complex in Only, Tennessee. Mitchell filed a claim for negligence against the State with regard to an alleged injury that he claims occurred on September 19, 2015. Specifically, Mitchell alleged:

On Friday the 18th, day of September 2015 at approximately 10:45 P.M. the power went of [sic] in my assigned cell which is Unit 4 A-201 and was not turned back on until the following Monday which was the 21st, day of September 2015. Subsequently on the 19th, Saturday night while my power was still out I was getting down out of my bunk to use the bathroom and missed my footing on the table due to the darkness in the cell and slipped and hurt my Knee and Lower back.

         The State filed a motion for summary judgment supported, in part, by an excerpt from Mitchell's deposition wherein Mitchell described the incident stating:

I fell down in the middle of the night. . . . Just getting up at nighttime - - or getting up in nighttime to use the bathroom, it's just - - there's no lights in the cell. It's black dark in there. And they don't have ladders on the bed or nothing to get down so you've got to turn around trying to find the table, and then trying to find the stool, and then find the floor.

         Mitchell testified that his roommate was asleep and did not wake when Mitchell fell. When asked what happened after he fell, Mitchell stated: "Nothing. I couldn't - - I just went to the bathroom, and then used it, and then got ...


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