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A motion for summary judgment may be used to resolve a number of outcome-determinative issues in negligence cases. For example, it may be used to determine whether a plaintiff has been unable to prove any of the essential ingredients of his or her claim. Coln v. City of Savannah, 966 S.W.2d 34, 44 (Tenn. 1998), clarified by Cross v. City of Memphis, 20 S.W.3d 642, 644 (Tenn. 2000); Madison v. Pickett County Bank & Trust Co., 33 S.W.3d 815, 816 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2000); Roe v. Catholic Diocese of Memphis, Inc., 950 S.W.2d 27, 31 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1996). Specifically, it may be used to determine whether a defendant owes a duty to a plaintiff in a particular circumstance because questions involving the existence and extent of one's legal duty to prevent harm to others is a question of law for the courts. Staples v. CBL & Assocs., Inc., 15 S.W.3d at 89; Plunk v. National Health Investors, Inc., 92 S.W.3d 409, 413 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2002); Tompkins v. Annie's Nannies, Inc., 59 S.W.3d 669, 673 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2000).


Questions regarding breach of duty, causation in fact, and legal causation are ordinarily questions of ...

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