RULE 8. GENERAL RULES OF PLEADING

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Rule 8.06: Construction of Pleadings.

All pleadings shall be so construed as to do substantial justice.

Advisory Commission Comments.

8.01: Rule 8.01 provides that a pleading that sets forth a claim for relief must contain a short and plain statement of the claim and a demand for judgment for the relief sought. The rule also authorizes demands for alternative or different types of relief.

8.02: Rule 8.02 provides for the filing of the answer, which sets forth defenses to each claim asserted and which admits or denies the averments upon which the adverse party relies. If the defendant intends to controvert every averment of the complaint, the defendant may do so by a general denial, but the signature of the defendant’s attorney, as required by Rule 11, is the certificate of the attorney that there is good ground to support the pleading; general denials under these circumstances should be rare.

8.03: Rule 8.03 lists affirmative defenses which must be raised in a pleading to a preceding pleading. The rule provides that the party relying upon a matter constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense must set forth the facts constituting such defenses in short and plain terms, just as under Rule 8.02 the party must set forth express denials of claims asserted by the adverse party.

8.04: Rule 8.04 adopts the general principle that averments in a pleading to which a responsive pleading is required are admitted when not denied in the responsive pleading. Four special cases involving subject matter or persons which might make the general rule oppressive are excepted from the operation of the Rule.

8.05: Rule 8.05(1) sets out the requirements for stating a claim or defense based upon a statute, ordinance or regulation. Rule 8.05(2) allows the statement of all the claims or defenses a party has, and expressly permits inconsistent pleading.

Advisory Commission Comments [1993].

"Comparative fault" is substituted for "contributory negligence" in light of McIntyre v. Balentine, 833 S.W.2d 52 (Tenn. 1992). Note that the defendant must identify or describe other alleged tortfeasors who should share fault, or else the defendant normally would be barred from shifting blame to others at trial.

Advisory Commission Comments [1998].

Perez v. McConkey, 872 S.W.2d 897 (Tenn. 1994), transformed implied assumption of risk from an absolute defense to a criterion position within comparative fault analysis. Contractual express assumption remains as a complete defense to liability.

Advisory Commission Comment [2000].

The former defense of injury by fellow servant was abolished by Glass v. City of Chattanooga, 858 S.W.2d 312 (Tenn. 1993).

Advisory Commission Comments [2004].

Because of the prevalence of long arm statutes providing personal jurisdiction over nonresidents, the amendment deletes the requirement of a prima facie case when the nonresident defendant fails to deny an allegation in the complaint.

Advisory Commission Comment [2006].

The affirmative defenses of statute of repose and workers’ compensation immunity are added to the list in Rule 8.03.

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