Schratter v. Development Enterprises, Inc.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Tennessee
Writing for the CourtFRANKS
Citation584 S.W.2d 459
PartiesMartin SCHRATTER, et ux., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. DEVELOPMENT ENTERPRISES, INC., d/b/a Marquis Luxury Apartments, Defendant- Appellee. 584 S.W.2d 459
Decision Date19 January 1979

Page 459

584 S.W.2d 459
Martin SCHRATTER, et ux., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
DEVELOPMENT ENTERPRISES, INC., d/b/a Marquis Luxury
Apartments, Defendant- Appellee.
584 S.W.2d 459
Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Eastern Section.
Jan. 19, 1979.
Certiorari Denied by Supreme Court July 2, 1979.

R. Jerome Shepherd, Cleveland, for plaintiffs-appellants.

Luther, Anderson, Cleary, Luhowiak & Cooper, Chattanooga, for defendant-appellee.

OPINION

FRANKS, Judge.

This appeal presents the issue of whether exculpatory clauses in residential leases will be enforced to bar recovery against a landlord for his negligent acts which cause loss or damage to his tenant.

Plaintiffs and defendant entered into a residential apartment lease agreement in July, 1976, in Bradley County. In January, 1977, an agent of defendant negligently caused a fire in the apartment building, which resulted in loss and damage to plaintiffs' personal property and other losses and expenditures. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, averring that a provision in the lease prohibits the plaintiffs from maintaining the suit which states, in part, at Sec. 21:

(T)he Lessor and its agents shall not be liable to Lessee, or any person claiming through Lessee, for any injury to the person or loss of or damage to property from any cause . . .

Plaintiffs argued before the trial court that the exculpatory provision in the lease was void as against public policy, but the trial judge, in sustaining defendant's motion, held under general contract law that parties to a contract may absolve themselves from liability and the rule is applicable

Page 460

to leases. The trial judge's memorandum quoted with approval Chazen v. Trailmobile, Inc., 215 Tenn. 87, 384 S.W.2d 1 (1964), as follows:

There is no disagreement within the various courts and jurisdictions over the fact that parties may contract to absolve themselves from liability, and this rule is applicable, and has been applied to the field of landlord and tenant. It has often been held that public policy is best served by freedom of contract and this freedom is prompted by allowing parties to limit their liability for fire damage under lease agreements. (Citations omitted.) Page 91, 384 S.W.2d page 3.

Appellants appealed, insisting the public policy of Tennessee is no longer as expressed in Chazen and the earlier case between those parties reported as Trailmobile, Inc. v. Chazen, 51 Tenn.App. 576, 370 S.W.2d 840 (1963).

Plaintiffs contend The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act of 1975, codified at T.C.A., § 64-2801, Et seq., has changed the public policy of the state in this area of the law.

T.C.A., § 64-2813(a)(2) prohibits provisions in rental agreements in which the tenant "agrees to the exculpation or limitation of any liability of the landlord to tenant arising under law . . ." If the act applied to...

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6 practice notes
  • Copeland v. Healthsouth/Methodist Rehab. Hosp., LP, No. W2016-02499-SC-R11-CV
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • December 20, 2018
    ...did not apply because the cases did not involve contracts for professional services. In Schratter v. Development Enterprises, Inc. , 584 S.W.2d 459, 461 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1979), the Court of Appeals upheld an exculpatory provision in a residential lease, based in part on its determination tha......
  • Crawford v. Buckner
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • August 31, 1992
    ...at 432. In the most recent case to consider an exculpatory clause, the Court of Appeals, in Schratter v. Development Enterprises, Inc., 584 S.W.2d 459 (Tenn.App.1979), upheld the enforceability of an exculpatory clause in a residential lease under very similar facts to this case. There, a l......
  • Schuck & Sons Const. v. Industrial Com'n of Ariz., No. 2
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • January 29, 1998
    ...Based on a Tennessee statute "as it has been consistently interpreted by decisions of this Court over the past 55 years," 5 Sherlin, 584 S.W.2d at 459, the court in Sherlin concluded that a "lump sum settlement agreement never became binding on any of the parties because it was not approved......
  • Petty v. Privette
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Tennessee
    • February 6, 1989
    ...seller or his agents. 558 S.W.2d at 431. Olson applies only to professional service contracts. See Schmatter v. Development Enterprises, 584 S.W.2d 459 (Tenn.App.1979). Because the will at issue purports to protect a professional, i.e., an attorney, we must first consider the criteria set o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • Copeland v. Healthsouth/Methodist Rehab. Hosp., LP, No. W2016-02499-SC-R11-CV
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • December 20, 2018
    ...did not apply because the cases did not involve contracts for professional services. In Schratter v. Development Enterprises, Inc. , 584 S.W.2d 459, 461 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1979), the Court of Appeals upheld an exculpatory provision in a residential lease, based in part on its determination tha......
  • Crawford v. Buckner
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • August 31, 1992
    ...at 432. In the most recent case to consider an exculpatory clause, the Court of Appeals, in Schratter v. Development Enterprises, Inc., 584 S.W.2d 459 (Tenn.App.1979), upheld the enforceability of an exculpatory clause in a residential lease under very similar facts to this case. There, a l......
  • Schuck & Sons Const. v. Industrial Com'n of Ariz., No. 2
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Arizona
    • January 29, 1998
    ...Based on a Tennessee statute "as it has been consistently interpreted by decisions of this Court over the past 55 years," 5 Sherlin, 584 S.W.2d at 459, the court in Sherlin concluded that a "lump sum settlement agreement never became binding on any of the parties because it was not approved......
  • Petty v. Privette
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Tennessee
    • February 6, 1989
    ...seller or his agents. 558 S.W.2d at 431. Olson applies only to professional service contracts. See Schmatter v. Development Enterprises, 584 S.W.2d 459 (Tenn.App.1979). Because the will at issue purports to protect a professional, i.e., an attorney, we must first consider the criteria set o......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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