Chapter 52: Negligent Bailment

§52.1 Generally

The Case: Anderson v. Lamb's Auto Service, Inc. , No. W2008-01305-COA-R3-CV, 2009 WL 1076729 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 5, 1009).

The Basic Facts: This case was brought pursuant to the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act and a negligent bailment theory for alleged poor repairs to the interior of the plaintiffs' car and for alleged damage to the exterior of the car. 2009 WL 1076729 at *1.

The Bottom Line:

  • "On appeal, Lamb's Auto argues that there was insufficient proof to establish that the overspray damage was the proxmiate (sic) result of any negligence by Lamb's Auto. In inquiring whether there is sufficient proof of negligence, we consider the burden shifting that occurs when a party alleges a negligent bailment. By statute, a bailor establishes a prima facie case of a bailee's negligence if it proves 1) the property was delivered to the bailee in good condition, 2) bailee failed to return the property in accord with a contract or returned it in a damaged condition, and 3) the damage was not due to the inherent nature of the property bailed. Tenn. Code Ann. § 24-5-111. Once a bailor establishes a prima facie case, the burden shifts to the bailee to produce evidence and persuade the trier of fact that the damage was not caused by the bailee's negligence. Mathews v. Cumberland Chevrolet Co., 640 S.W.2d 582, 58485 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1982). At trial, Mrs. Anderson testified that when she dropped her car off at Lamb's Auto there was no overspray on the car, but when she picked it up the car looked dull and there were flakes later indentified to be overspray. This shifted the burden to Lamb's Auto to prove that the damage was not caused by the bailee's negligence. On appeal, Lamb's Auto argues that it met this burden. We disagree." Id. at *4.
  • "To rebut the presumption of negligence, Lamb's Auto offered proof of the general precautions that it takes to avoid overspray damage. In addition, Lamb's Auto claims that no paint work was performed while plaintiffs' vehicle was in defendant's shop. This evidence, however, is not sufficient to rebut the presumption of negligence. As this Court articulated in Stevens v. Moore, 139 S.W.2d 710, 717 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1940), 'the bailee's duty in this respect includes production of evidence that the loss was not attributable to any want of due care on his part, and that to this end he is bound to disclose fully, in so far as he can, the manner in which the loss occurred, the facts and circumstances attending it, and the precautions taken to prevent it. Id. at 717 (quoting 6 Am. Juris § 379). Lamb's Auto failed to produce evidence of what particularly happened to the Andersons' car; where a defendant fails to produce any evidence whatsoever to account for the damage of the property, it cannot be said that they have sustained their burden by proving that the damage was not caused by their own negligence. Murphy v. Co-operative Laundry Co. of St. Paul, 41 N.W.2d 261, 26263 (Minn. 1950). We find, therefore, that Lamb's Auto failed to prove that its negligence did not damage the exterior of the Andersons' car, and affirm the judgment of the trial court that Lamb's Auto breached the contract." Id. at *5.

Other Sources of Note: Tenn. Code Ann. § 24-5-111.

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.

To schedule an appointment, contact us online or call us at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787.



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.

To order a copy of the book, visit www.dayontortsbook.com. John also blogs regularly on key issues for tort lawyers. To subscribe to the Day on Torts blog, visit www.dayontorts.com.

Client Reviews
Everything was great. You guys are a great representative. I was satisfied with everything. Truly appreciate John Day and his hard-working staff.
★★★★★
We thought that you did an excellent job in representing us in our lawsuit. We would recommend you to anyone.
★★★★★
The Law Offices of John Day is, without a doubt, the best in Nashville! They treated me with the utmost respect and tended to my every need. No question went unanswered. I was always kept informed of every step in the process. I received phenomenal results; I couldn't ask for more. I would definitely hire the Law Offices of John Day again.
★★★★★
I would definitely recommend to anyone to hire John Day's law firm because everyone was helpful, made everything clear and got the job done. I am satisfied with how my case was handled.
★★★★★
It's been a long battle but this firm has been very efficient and has done a remarkable job for me! I highly recommend them to anyone needing legal assistance. Everyone has always been very kind and kept me informed of all actions promptly.
★★★★★
I had a great experience with the Law Offices of John Day. The staff was very accommodating, and my phone calls/emails were always responded to in a timely manner. They made the entire process very easy and stress-free for me, and I had confidence that my case was in good hands. I am very happy with the results, and I highly recommend!
★★★★★