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Date: 08-16-2023

Case Style:

Joe Cunningham, et al. v. Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc.

Case Number: 3:14-cv-00020

Judge: Thomas A. Varian

Court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee (Knox County)

Plaintiff's Attorney: Alex Straus, Arhtur Stock, Gary Davis, Jeff Friedman, John Dupree, Jonathan Cohen, Keiht Stewart, Louis Ringger, Mark Silvey, Ryan McMillan, Willaim Ladnier, Adam Edwards, Greg Coleman, John Roper, Justin Day, James Scott

Defendant's Attorney: Alejandro Sarria, Chatherine Anglin, Dian Feinstein, Dwight Tarwater, James F. Sanders, James Issac Sanders, Jeremy Smith, Nathan Sanders, Peter Modlin, Theane Evangelis, Ted Boutrous, William Harbison

Description: Knoxville, Tennessee personal injury lawyers represented Plaintiffs who sued Defendant on negligence exposure to silica.

The facts of these cases are well-known, but some brief background is warranted here. Jacobs was hired by the Tennessee Valley Authority (“TVA”) to manage cleanup and remediation efforts at the Kingston Fossil Fuel Plant following the December 2008coal-ash spill. TVA and Jacobs entered into a contract, according to which Jacobs
developed a comprehensive Site Wide Safety and Health Plan (“SWSHP”) governing the
site. The plaintiffs here are individuals who worked on the remediation efforts, plus some
of their spouses. The workers suffer from a variety of medical conditions, which they claim
were caused by Jacobs’s negligence with respect to air monitoring, dust control, the use of
personal protective equipment, and worker training, all in violation of Jacob's contract with TVA and the SWSHP.

The District Court certified the following questions to the Tennessee Supreme Court:

"(1) Are the requirements of the TSCPA an affirmative defense that must
be pleaded in a responsive pleading, or are they prima facie requirements
which can be raised at any stage of litigation?
(2) Do the TSCPA’s requirements apply to all cases involving exposure
to silica or mixed dust, or, if coal ash is silica or mixed dust within the
meaning of the TSCPA, are plaintiffs’ claims exempted from the TSCPA’s
requirements because they are raised under the common law?
(3) Does coal ash, which contains silica, fibrogenic dusts, and other
components that may cause injury, but are not “fibrogenic dusts,” constitute
“silica” or “mixed dust” such that the requirements of the TSCPA would
apply in these cases?
(4) If coal ash does qualify as silica or mixed dust, does the TSCPA apply
even if plaintiffs’ claims are based on injury resulting from exposure to
elements of coal ash that are not silica or fibrogenic dusts?

"Negligence is a legal concept that refers to the failure to act as a reasonable person would act in a particular situation. In Tennessee, negligence is a tort, which means that it is a civil wrong that can be remedied by a lawsuit.

To prove negligence in Tennessee, the plaintiff must show the following four elements:

The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care.
The defendant breached that duty of care.
The breach of duty caused the plaintiff's injuries.
The plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the injuries.

The duty of care is the obligation that one person has to another to act reasonably. The duty of care is determined by the relationship between the parties and the circumstances of the case. For example, a driver has a duty of care to other drivers on the road, but they do not have a duty of care to a pedestrian who is walking on the sidewalk.

The breach of duty of care occurs when the defendant fails to act as a reasonable person would act in the same situation. This can be done by doing something that a reasonable person would not do, or by failing to do something that a reasonable person would do.

The causation element requires the plaintiff to show that the defendant's breach of duty of care caused their injuries. This means that the plaintiff's injuries must have been a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendant's actions.

The damages element requires the plaintiff to show that they suffered some type of harm as a result of the defendant's negligence. Damages can include both economic losses, such as medical expenses and lost wages, and non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering.

If the plaintiff can prove all four elements of negligence, they may be able to recover damages from the defendant. However, it is important to note that Tennessee follows a modified comparative negligence system. This means that the plaintiff's damages will be reduced by their own percentage of fault. For example, if the plaintiff is found to be 20% at fault for their own injuries, their damages will be reduced by 20%.

If you have been injured due to the negligence of another person, you should speak with an attorney to discuss your legal options. An attorney can help you understand the law and determine whether you have a case."

Google Bard

Outcome: In litigation.

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