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Comin' Through the Rye: A Requiem for the Tennessee Summary Judgment Standard
Tennessee Law Review (2016)
  • Matthew Lyon
  • Judy M. Cornett, University of Tennessee - Knoxville
  • T. Mitchell Panter
What must a defendant do to be granted summary judgment in
Tennessee? This question has given rise to a long, hotly contested
battle over the proper role of summary judgment and, ultimately,
who should bear the burden of producing evidence and when. The
evolution of Tennessee’s summary judgment standard—from the
adoption of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure in 1971 to the
Tennessee Supreme Court’s most recent interpretation of Rule 56 in
2015—is a story of competing visions of the benefits and burdens
associated with civil litigation. How much time should an aggrieved
party have to marshal evidence in support of its claim? How much
time and money should an oppressed defendant have to expend in
resisting a suit that may ultimately prove unfounded? Answers to
these questions have shaped the competing visions of summary
judgment in Tennessee.
This Article examines the development of Tennessee summary
judgment law from its inception in 1971 to the present. It then
focuses on the most recent summary judgment standard, adopted by
the Tennessee Supreme Court in Rye v. Women’s Care Center of
Memphis.1 Section I recounts the history of summary judgment in
Tennessee including the scholarly debate over whether Tennessee
did—or should—adopt the federal Celotex standard.2 Section II then
examines Rye in detail. Section III discusses the aftermath of Rye,
and suggests issues this case will likely raise for Tennessee courts in
the future.
  • Summary Judgment,
  • Tennessee,
  • Civil Procedure
Publication Date
Summer 2016
Citation Information
Matthew Lyon, Judy M. Cornett and T. Mitchell Panter. "Comin' Through the Rye: A Requiem for the Tennessee Summary Judgment Standard" Tennessee Law Review Vol. 83 (2016) p. 1027 ISSN: 0040-3288
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