§31.6 Immunity of Employees From Judgment

The Case: Hill v. City of Germantown, 31 S.W.3d 234 (Tenn. 2000).

The Basic Facts: Men who lost their wives in a high-speed police case sued police officers and City of Germantown.

The Bottom Line:

  • "Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-20-310(b) precludes the entry of a judgment against the employee when the governmental entity's immunity from suit has been removed pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 29-20-202 -205." 31 S.W.3d at 235.

Other Sources of Note: The statute provides only two exceptions to this general rule - licensed nurses and doctors. Here is the exact language of the relevant statute:

No claim may be brought against an employee or judgment entered against an employee for damages for which the immunity of the governmental entity is removed by this chapter unless the claim is one for medical malpractice brought against a health care practitioner. No claim for medical malpractice may be brought against a health care practitioner or judgment entered against a health care practitioner for damages for which the governmental entity is liable under this chapter, unless the amount of damages sought or judgment entered exceeds the minimum limits set out in § 29-20-403 or the amount of insurance coverage actually carried by the governmental entity, whichever is greater, and the governmental entity is also made a party defendant to the action. As used in this subsection (b), "health care practitioner" means physicians licensed under title 63, chapter 6, and nurses licensed under title 63, chapter 7.

Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-20-310(b). Of course, if the governmental entity is immune from suit, an employee who acts wrongfully is not immune from suit.

Recent Cases:  Baker v. Snedegar, No. M2012-02348-COA-R9-CV, 2013 WL 5568424 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 8, 2013) (affirmed denial of summary judgment motion of medical legal examiner who claimed immunity under GTLA but could not prove she was paid by the payroll department of the governmental entity at issue).

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.

Rather than researching these legal issues alone, we urge you to contact one of our award-winning lawyers who can sit down with you, review your case, answer your questions and clearly explain your rights and your options in a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced attorneys handle all personal injury and wrongful death cases on a contingency basis, so we only get paid if we win. If for any reason you are unable to come to our office, we will gladly come to you.

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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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