§15.11 Applicability to Fraud

The Case: Edwards v. Bruce, C.A. No. 01A01-9510-CH-00458, 1996 WL 383294 (Tenn. App. July 10, 1996).

The Basic Facts: Plaintiff brought various claims arising from a real estate transaction. The claims included fraud.

The Bottom Line:

  • "The defendants next assert that the trial court erred in failing to apply comparative negligence to this case. They argue that the fault of the Bruces in making the representations should have been reduced by the fault of the Edwardses in negligently relying upon the representations. The defendants are essentially arguing that the fault attributable to an intentional tortfeasor should be reduced by the fault attributable to a negligent tortfeasor. We do not agree." 1996 WL 383294 at *16.
  • "In Turner v. Jordan, [No. 01-A-01-9411-CV-00544, 1995 WL 512957 (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 30, 1995)] this Court allowed a negligent tortfeasor to reduce his liability by the percentage of fault attributable to an intentional tortfeasor. However, this Court stated that an intentional tortfeasor should not be allowed to reduce his or her liability by the percentage of fault attributable to a negligent tortfeasor. This Court stated:
    Plaintiffs interpret the comparison rule to allow intentional tortfeasors to use the conduct of negligent tortfeasors to reduce their liability. Such an interpretation does not seem well founded. The present case concerns an injured party attempting to transfer an intentional tortfeasor's responsibility to a negligent tortfeasor, not an intentional tortfeasor attempting to transfer some of his own responsibility to a negligent tortfeasor … As noted by plaintiffs, intentional tortfeasors in Tennessee have always been held fully responsible for the injuries they cause. The contributory negligence of a plaintiff has never been a defense to an intentional assault in Tennessee. See State v. Dunn, [282 S.W.2d 203, 213 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1943)]. Consequently, the comparison approach stands for the proposition that a negligent tortfeasor may reduce his liability by comparing his fault to that of an intentional tortfeasor, not that an intentional tortfeasor may reduce his liability by comparing his fault to that of a negligent tortfeasor. Id. at *9." Id. at *16-17.
  • "Since we have determined that the Bruces are guilty of fraudulent misrepresentation rather than negligent misrepresentation, the Bruces may not reduce their liability for the Edwardses damages by the percentage of fault attributable to the Edwardses in relying upon the representations. This issue is without merit." Id. at *17.

Other Sources of Note: McRae v. Hagaman , No. E2004-00852-COA-R3-CV, 2004 WL 2378109 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 25, 2004) (re-affirming holding in Edwards that comparative fault not applicable to fraud).

After an accident, many injury victims and their families want more information on the accident and their legal rights. Consequently, many of them have found their way to these pages. While we are happy you are here, please understand Day on Torts: Leading Cases in Tennessee Tort Law was written to be a quick, invaluable reference for Tennessee tort lawyers. While the book provides the leading case for more than 300 tort law subjects and thousands of related case citations, it is not a substitute for personalized legal advice from a qualified lawyer.

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The foregoing is an excerpt from Day on Torts: Leading Cases in Tennessee Tort Law, published by John A. Day, Civil Trial Specialist, Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, recipient of Best Lawyers in America recognition, Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent™ rated attorney, and Top 100 Tennessee Mid-South Super Lawyers designee. Read John’s full bio here.

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