John Dupree works hard to obtain maximum compensation for his clients and he is incredibly proud of his track record of substantial verdicts and settlements achieved on his clients' behalf.
While no two cases are the same, he will always try to maximize what clients recover from the other side. Because settlements sometimes contain confidentiality clauses, we cannot share all results here, but here is a small portion of the outcomes that Mr Dupree has been able to collect for his clients:
Mr. Dupree has experience working on a great variety of cases. Here are some examples of cases he has successfully handled.
The plaintiffs were homeowners who hired a log home construction company to build two expansive log homes in Jefferson County. The plaintiffs alleged that the builder constructed defective homes and brought suit for damages. Mr. Dupree was retained to defend the builder and did so through the use of multiple experts who were able to demonstrate that the major complaints of the plaintiffs were unfounded. Log homes were known to expand and contract and ample provision was made to accommodate such movement pursuant to generally accepted construction standards. After the plaintiffs failed in multiple attempts to prevail by motion practice, the case was settled to the satisfaction of all parties.
The claimant had a long history of lupus and fibromyalgia in addition to other afflictions including hypothyroidism, memory loss symptoms, depression, carpal tunnel syndrome, and low back pain. She was employed as a staff nurse at a local Knox County facility. Like may claimants, she continued to work through the pain and discomfort until her condition got to the point where she could no longer continue. She applied for disability benefits with Jefferson Pilot but was denied because Jefferson Pilot’s hired physician (who never examined the claimant), stated that she could perform sedentary employment. His reasoning was based upon his conclusion that most of the claimant’s difficulties were self-reported with little in the way of objective findings.
Further, a Jefferson Pilot vocational rehabilitation specialist found four jobs that the claimant could perform. Not jobs actually available, but hypothetically available and Jobs for which the claimant had no training. The “specialist” came to this conclusion even though only 9 months prior to Social Security Administration determined that the claimant was totally disabled from any work nationwide. After two denials, the case was settled to the satisfaction of the claimant prior to litigation.
In this case, the claimant was a Remote Handling Technician working in Anderson County, Tennessee. Over the course of time, her pain and discomfort arising out of her fibromyalgia and Osteoarthritis progressed until she could no longer continue employment. Unum initially granted the claimant’s short-term benefits, granted her claim for long-term disability benefits under reservation of rights and then terminated her benefits shortly thereafter, thus initiating an administrative appeal process.
During the administrative appeal, Unum relied upon the opinion of an alleged vocational expert whose cursory opinion made use of patently unreliable data to support her opinion and who did not consider basic information (such as the physical demands the claimant’s own occupation, the ability to attend work reliably, assigned restrictions and the prospect of gainful employment) necessary to fairly and accurately assess the nature of the claimant’s continuing vocational disability. Unum decided not to exercise its right under the Plan to have the claimant evaluated by an IME physician. Instead, Unum relied upon in-house consulting physicians to review limited information and render opinions regarding the claimant’s ability to work. The consultants ignored actual symptoms (such as chronic edema), did not consider the medications taken by the claimant with the associated side effects and did not consider her cognitive functioning. Furthermore, Unum appeared to ignore the supportive statements of the claimant’s treating physicians, did not pursue relevant and accessible information and did not name other employment that the claimant could perform given her medical conditions. Following a brief period of litigation, the matter was settled to the satisfaction of the claimant.
The plaintiff was a middle-aged lady who had the terrible circumstance of simply falling out of her bed one morning. The fall injured her neck leading her to be taken by ambulance to a local hospital for treatment. At the hospital, given her complaints of neck pain, her neck was evaluated through the use of a CT scan. Having reviewed the CT scan, the treating physicians authorized the removal of her neck brace and three days later, she became paralyzed from the neck down. It turned out that the CT scan revealed a clear 10mm Spondylolisthesis (vertebrae slippage) in her cervical spine that, once her neck was destabilized, allowed the vertebrae to damage the nerves in her spine. After extensive litigation, including the involvement of a host of experts, a settlement was achieved that would help with the plaintiff's treatment for the rest of her life.
The plaintiff was a contractor who was hired to reconstruct the west wall of Fort Watauga located on the grounds of the Sycamore Shoals State Park in Elizabethan, Tennessee. Fort Watauga is a recreated fort that showed part visitors how the early settlers protected themselves from the dangers inherent in the area. The work involved removing deteriorated logs and replacing them with new suitable logs to rebuild the wall. However, once the work was complete, the State of Tennessee declined to pay the remaining portion of the contract claiming that the wall was improperly constructed and that the logs were not suitable. Mr. Dupree was retained to pursue the remaining balance and, after a trial on the grounds of the park, in a 22-page opinion, judgment was entered in favor of Mr. Dupree's client.
On a rainy November morning in Esterwood, Louisiana, a young man was driving his jeep over a railroad crossing when it stalled stuck in a large gap between the track and the asphalt of the road. Before he could restart his vehicle and drive away, an Amtrak train traveling at a speed of approximately 70 miles per hour struck the jeep sending it more than 100 feet into a swampy area below. The young man was killed within sight of his home. Mr. Dupree was retained but the family of the young man to pursue Amtrak for his death. After protracted litigation in Louisiana, the case was settled to satisfaction of the family.
At a grocery store distribution center in Prince George County, Virginia, a truck driver was walking across the parking lot to the office upon his arrival. At the same time, a "yard jockey" was backing a trailer toward the warehouse but did not exercise due care and ran over the driver causing his death. The family of the driver subsequently retained Mr. Dupree to pursue a wrongful death claim in Virginia. Although Virginia still had the antiquated "contributory fault" doctrine in place (even if the plaintiff is only 1% at fault, he gets nothing), Mr. Dupree was still able to affect a recovery for the family. This was truly one of the most difficult cases with the most terrible injuries at issue.
Significant litigation includes Bridges v. Security Insurance Company of Hartford, No. E1999-01775-WC-R3-CV, (Tenn. Nov. 3, 2000)(holding that permanent partial disability benefits are not available for pneumoconiosis claims; opinion recommended for publication); Lett v. Collis Foods, No. E-2000-02776-COA-R3-CV (liability of employer for acts of its off-duty, off-premises employees); Harken et al v. United States Cellular Corporation, Docket No. 1-290-00, Knox County Circuit Court (consumer class action for undisclosed fees and billing practices); Garland v. St. Mary’s Health System, Inc., 2006 WL 709054 (Tenn. Wk. Comp. Panel, March 21, 2006)(regarding medical testimony and Last Injurious Exposure doctrine); Mahal v. Tusculum College, et al., No. 3:03-CV-00411 (U.S. Dist. Ct, E.D. Mar. 25, 2005)(relating to ERISA and benefits thereunder); Huffaker v. St. Mary’s Health System, Inc., N0.:E2005-01512-WC-R3-CV, (Last Injurious Exposure doctrine in workers compensation); McCullers v. Colonial Wood Products, Inc., 1998 WL 128956 (Tenn. Wk. Comp. Panel, March 23, 1998)(causation in workers’ compensation case); Carroll v. Yucatan Resorts S.A. de C.V., No. E-2007-01807-COA-R3-CV, 2008 WL 2078090 (Tenn. Ct. App., May 16, 2008)(whether summary judgment was appropriate for defendant); Morgan v. Liuna Staff and Affiliates Pension Fund, No. 3:10-CV-51, 2011 WL 6122369 (E.D. Tn., Dec. 8, 2011)(Pension issues); Yates v. Bechtel Jacobs Co., LLC, No. 3:09-CV-51, 2011 WL 2462811 (E.D. Tn., June 20, 2011)(ERISA long term disability); Setser v. CIGNA Group Ins., No. 3:10-CV-293, 2010 WL 3883432 (E.D. Tn., Sept. 29, 2010)(Remand to Tennessee Court); Sheward v. Bechtel Jacobs Co. LLC Pension Plan, No. 3:08-CV-428, 2010 WL 841302 (E.D. Tn., March 4, 2010)(Pension offset issue); Maynor v. Hartford Life Group Ins. Co., No. 2:07-CV-244, 2009 WL 2601866 (E.D. Tn., Aug. 20, 2009)(Long term disability); Edwards v. Life Ins. Co. of North America, No. 3:07-CV-247, 2009 WL 693139 (E.D. Tn, March 13, 2009)(Long term disability); Proffitt v. Group Long Term Disability Plan for Family Practice Center, No. 2:06-CV-97, 2007 WL 2692177 (E.D. Tn., Sept. 12, 2007)(Long term disability); National Coal Corp. v. National Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, P.A., No. 3:07-CV-97, 2007 WL 2385388 (E.D. Tn., Aug. 17, 2007)(Insurance premium/settlement dispute); Aqua-Chem, Inc. v. D & H Machine Service, Inc., No. E2015-01818-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 17, 2016)(breach of contract dispute on battleship “cooler”); Adkisson v. Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc., 342 F.Supp. 791 (E.D. Tn., Sept. 19, 2018)(TVA coal ash spill litigation); State v. Williams, No. 112985, Knox County Crim. Ct (vehicular homicide related to Gay Street bridge accident); State v. Cromwell, No. E2017-01320-CCA-R3-CD (Tn. Ct. Crim. App, July 3, 2018)(vehicular homicide); Buchanan v. Sun Life Health Ins. Co., No. 3:15-cv-202 (E.D. Tn., Feb. 1, 2017)(Long term disability); Mumpower v. Sopranos, Inc. et al., No. 2:17-cv-219 (E.D. Tn.)(tractor-trailer accident); Hoffpauir, et al v. Amtrak & BNSF, No. 08-1721 (W.D. Louisiana)(train death case)
I represented a local claimant that was just a wonderful person but she suffered from hepatitis C. After winning her appeal with Cigna and finally receiving the benefits she deserved, she got better and was able to go back to work as a flight attendant.
This Loudon County claimant had sustained an injury to his back and one of his legs was about half the size of the other due to continuing neuropathy arising out of a back injury. We convinced Hartford to overturn its initial denial with what I believe to be the best evidence for this kind of case – pictures of the leg.
I represented a radiation oncologist for disability benefits arising out of a heart attack. What was interesting about this case was that, well, the claimant was a radiation oncologist. I got the opportunity to learn how he performed his job – looking for cancer via films.
His job carried tremendous responsibility and required inerrant concentration. However, his neurological problems interfered with his ability to focus. He got his benefits
I represented a kind lady who had part of her brain removed. For the most part, she appeared normal but she had continuing issues as a result of the surgery. The interesting part about this case for me was learning that a person can lose part of his or her brain,
but the untouched parts of the brain will take over the functions of the removed portion of the brain.
It is not very often that I get to compliment a plan administrator. However, I feel compelled to state that the Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) did a commendable thing with a claimant.
The claimant had applied for benefits and failed to convince Unum (Unum handled the claims for self-insured KUB) that she was totally disabled. After her appeal was denied, she decided not to pursue the matter any further. However, about a year later she won Social Security benefits. A year after that, she changed her mind about KUB and she came to me for help with her disability benefits. I told her that I did not have much hope that KUB would be willing to re-evaluate her case but I would ask them. One thing that I have learned over time is that you won’t get what you want unless you ask. So we asked. To my surprise, KUB agreed to reopen the claim and consider any new evidence that we could produce. We eventually convinced KUB to reverse its decision. The claimant is still getting her benefits today. As it turned out, I have come to the conclusion that KUB works hard to be fair to its former employees claiming disability and it should be commended for adhering to this philosophy.
From time to time I will make the decision to bring an Erisa case in small claims court (because the law provides that any court of competent jurisdiction may hear the case).
One such case involved a claimant that had cancer and had to stop work at Pasminco in Grainger County, Tennessee. Sitting in court on the day of the scheduled trial, I wondered whether the lawyer for Pasminco would assert that this was a case pre-empted by Erisa and that it should be removed to federal court. However, to my surprise, opposing counsel agreed to just have a trial in General Sessions Court. It was a full courtroom that morning and we got to see a trial over a cow that damaged an automobile. When it was our turn, the judge declared that he had never tried one of those kinds of cases (and probably never would again) but basically, “put on your first witness.” So I did. The claimant told his story, his wife got up and told her story, then the employer put a witness on the stand and I cross-examined him for about 30 or 40 minutes. All of this took about an hour and a half with the introduction of documentation and argument. When we were done, the judge announced his verdict in our favor and awarded a lump sum severance. The thing that I remember the most, though, was that the crowd in the courtroom paid attention to the trial and by the time the judge announced his decision, they were into it. When the judge finished his decision, there was a collective “heck yes!” from the crowd and I got a hug from my client. As you might imagine, that does not happen very often for attorneys!
To its credit, Pasminco promptly paid the judgment and we were done.
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