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Court of Appeals of Tennessee, At Nashville
August 25, 2010, Session; November 3, 2010, Filed
[*174] The issues in this case are whether Tennessee's "common county rule" deprived the Rutherford County Circuit Court of subject matter jurisdiction and whether the court erred in assessing discretionary costs. This wrongful death action arises from a fatal vehicular accident in Normandy, Bedford County, Tennessee, in which the decedent's vehicle was stuck by a train owned by CSX Transportation, Inc. The mother of the decedent, in her individual capacity and as the personal [**2] representative of the decedent's estate, timely filed this action in the Circuit Court for Rutherford County against CSX and the conductor of the train. Over the next five years the parties conducted extensive discovery. On the first day of trial, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the case without prejudice. On the motion of the defendants, the Rutherford County Circuit Court assessed $ 34,098.27 in discretionary costs against plaintiff. In this appeal, plaintiff contends the Rutherford County Circuit Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction as a consequence of the common county rule, and that it erred in awarding discretionary costs. We have determined that the common county rule does not apply, the Rutherford County Circuit Court had subject matter jurisdiction, and that the court did not abuse its discretion in assessing discretionary costs of $ 34,098.27 against plaintiff after she voluntarily dismissed this action. Accordingly, we affirm the award of discretionary costs.
On the morning of April 22, 2003, the decedent, John R. Freeman, was driving on Front Street in Normandy, Bedford County, Tennessee, which crosses a railroad track owned and operated by CSX Transportation, [**3] Inc. As Mr. Freeman's vehicle approached the track, a CSX train conducted by Mike E. Martin was also approaching the intersection. Although Mr. Martin activated the train's warning lights and bells as it neared the crossing, Mr. Freeman proceeded onto the tracks and was struck broadside by the CSX train. He sustained very serious injuries as a result of the collision and later died as a result of these injuries. Thereafter, his mother, Patsy Freeman, was appointed administratrix of his estate.
On April 12, 2004, acting in her individual capacity and as administratrix of her son's estate, Patsy Freeman, ("Plaintiff) commenced this action in the Circuit Court of Rutherford County, Tennessee against two defendants, CSX and Mr. Martin ("Defendants"). The complaint alleged that the defendants acted negligently and violated various railroad safety statutes, and that these acts and violations resulted in the wrongful death of her son. Defendants denied all liability.
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359 S.W.3d 171 *; 2010 Tenn. App. LEXIS 691 **
PATSY FREEMAN, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF JOHN R. FREEMAN, DECEASED v. CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC., A FLORIDA CORPORATION ET AL.
Subsequent History: Subsequent appeal at Freeman v. CSX Transp., Inc., 2011 Tenn. App. LEXIS 172 (Tenn. Ct. App., Apr. 7, 2011)
Prior History: [**1] Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed. Appeal from the Circuit Court for Rutherford County. No. 49982. J. Mark Rogers, Judge.
Disposition: Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed.
costs, discretionary, reside, trial court, venue, subject matter jurisdiction, parties, cause of action, individual capacity, prevailing party, personal representative, transitory action, assessing, re-file, localized, decedent's estate, expenses, asserts, court reporter, depositions, train
Civil Procedure, Preliminary Considerations, Venue, General Overview, Jurisdiction, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Appeals, Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions, Preservation for Review, Individual Defendants, Special Venue, Costs & Attorney Fees, Costs, Voluntary Dismissals, Court Order, Terms & Conditions of Dismissal, Costs Recoverable, Depositions & Transcripts, Witnesses, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Dismissal