Firm News


Orange Grove Center, 615 Derby Street, Chattanooga, TN 37404, has 1,000 of Jerry Summers’ latest published book, Tennessee Trivia No. 1 that can be purchased directly from OGC for a charitable donation of $21.95 (or more) plus $4.50 for shipping or it can be picked up from the facility.

A limited number of Jerry’s other five published works below can also be purchased for the same price of $21.95 as a charitable donation.

  1. The Turtle and the Lawyer—No legal war stories but a suggested "thank you" about the lives of people who helped the author in his life journey from birth.
  2. We Called Him Coach—Life story of respected educator, football coach, Naval veteran, and Iwo Jima survivor, Stanley J. Farmer
  3. One Shot Short—the 1957-1958 State runner up basketball teams’ season and the teaching and coaching career of Gordon W. Smith from 1952-1974 with team photos.
  4. Rush to Justice?-Tennessee’s Forgotten Trial of the Century-Schoolfield 1958 Volume 1
  5. Schoolfield: Out of the Ashes Volume 2. Two volume set on the controversial life of Judge Raulston Schoolfield from birth (1905) to death (1982). Volume 2 contains video of interview of Schoolfield.

Purchase any or all for $21.95 each with a charitable donation to OGC.

Great stocking stuffers for Christmas!


For the past several years, Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers and the Chattanooga Area Labor Council have co-sponsored a $2,000 scholarship to benefit a college student whose parents or relatives are members of an area labor union. From the standpoint of Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, this scholarship is a means to further demonstrate our support of the local labor community. It is also a way for us to show our appreciation for all the labor union support we have received over the years.

As always, the selection process was competitive. After much evaluation, thought, and debate, we are pleased to announce this year’s scholarship is being awarded to Suzie Rodriguez from Chattanoga, Tennessee. Suzie will be a freshman this fall at Catawba College in North Carolina. Suzie's father, Jamie Rodriguez, is a member of the I.B.E.W. Local 175.

Congratulations Suzie!. Best of luck to you and all the many other fine applicants!

Rufolo Works Hard for Good Settlement

Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers attorney, Jeff Rufolo recently obtained a substantial settlement in a hard-fought personal injury case that occurred on January 6, 2018.

The plaintiff entered into a contract for the defendant to provide for the installation of a HVAC unit at a self-storage facility the plaintiff had recently purchased. When the plaintiff came to check on the progress of the job he was seriously injured when a portion of the unit that had not been properly installed and secured fell approximately twelve feet landing on the plaintiffs left leg that resulted in a serious left tibia plateau fracture that required significant surgeries and hospitalization.

The plaintiff attempted to settle his case without an attorney and the company's insurance company denied the claim. The plaintiff hired Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers and Jeff handled the case for the firm.

Once again, the defendant's liability lawyers denied the claim and refused to discuss settlement after Jeff filed suit. During discovery proceedings Jeff took the deposition of a former employee of the defendant and they admitted that the job had not been finished and the scaffold had been placed where it fell onto the plaintiff.

After the damning deposition testimony was uncovered the defendant's lawyers still denied the claim but agreed to mediate the claim with a mediator where the company finally offered a small settlement. However, after the mediation was over the defendant's lawyers agreed to settle the case for the amount Jeff demanded at the mediation.

It is our firm's policy not to list amounts of verdicts or settlements but it was for a "very substantial amount." The main point to be made is to demonstrate how a hard-working lawyer got a good settlement for their client and fought for them to achieve a good result rather than settle for a low amount like is the practice of many of the lawyers who advertise that you see or hear on radio, television, billboards, etc.

Jeff Rufolo and Brent James successfully represent 9 year old boy injured at local amusement park.

On July 16, 2016, a 9 year old boy and his family visited a local amusement park. After a fun filled day, the 9 year old boy and his cousin asked to go on one final ride, the Fly-O-Plane. The boys got themselves into the plane and shortly thereafter the amusement park attendant started the ride. Unfortunately, the attendant did not properly secure the locking mechanism on the plane. As the ride gained altitude and speed, the door to the plane opened and both boys were thrown through the air. Thankfully, the cousin sustained relatively minor injuries. However, the 9 year old sustained much more serious injuries, including a broken leg, shoulder and wrist as well as a head laceration. The boy underwent multiple surgeries to repair his injuries.

Three and a half years after the incident, the parties attended mediation. Although the mediation did not result in a settlement, after continued negotiations, a confidential settlement was reached. The settlement provided for an upfront lump sum, which paid any outstanding bills, reimbursed the healthcare providers, attorney’s fees and an amount to the parents for their loss. The settlement also provided for periodic payments to the boy once he reached certain age milestones, as well as a guaranteed monthly payment for life.

Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers was honored to represent this outstanding young man and his family along with attorney Brent James of Rossville.

Two New Members of Firm

As we move into 2020, Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers is proud to announce we have welcomed two new well-qualified replacements out of a high number of applicants after losing two fine employees.

Receptionist, Cindy Shipley, has retired and is moving to Warner Robbins, Georgia, with her husband Ted to be with their daughter and grandchildren. The firm thanked Cindy for her many years of good service and dedication at a Christmas luncheon at the Mountain City Club. She has been replaced by Joy Hayes who has extensive legal experience as a legal secretary in Alabama prior to moving to Chattanooga when her husband was transferred by TVA.

Jeff Rufolo has a new secretary, Kristi Mcelroy, after his prior secretary left to take a position in a local animal rights organization. Kristi has several years of experience as a legal secretary with one of Chattanooga’s finest small law firms. We welcome both to Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers as the firm enters its 51st year of practice since started in 1969.

Thank You Clients and Friends

As 2019 ends, Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers would like to thank all of those individuals who have entrusted us with handling your personal legal case during the past year.

In spite of the continuous increase in the number of lawyers entering the media banner frenzy of lawyer advertising and the increase in deceptive advertising, our firm has continued to achieve success doing it the old way of hard work and good results for our clients.

Without the clients, friends and members of the legal community who still refer or associate Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers in cases, we would not be able to make that statement.

We only promise to work just as hard in 2020, act ethically and will fight for the best result in your case in trial or settlement.

Thank you for allowing Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers to represent you and/or your family and friends.

Jerry Summers, Jeff Rufolo, Jimmy Rodgers, Marya Schalk and Ben McGowan

Marya Schalk Selected as Mid-South Rising Star

Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers member, Marya Schalk, has once again been selected as one of 36 young lawyers in the Hamilton County area as a "Rising Star" in the field of Criminal Justice Law for 2019 in the Mid-South publication.

She previously served as a law clerk for retired Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Joe Tipton before joining the firm. Marya has worked on several high profile cases in not only the field of Criminal Law in state and federal courts with Jerry Summers and Ben McGowan, but has also been involved in several landmark decisions in the Tennessee appellate courts. She is the main attorney in the preparation of appeals in cases ranging from the State of Tennessee to the United States Supreme Court.

The firm congratulates Marya on her selection and is proud that she was chosen based on legal ability and performance and not by purchasing a plaque or rating.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever results in significant workers’ compensation benefits

Attorney Jeffrey W. Rufolo of Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers represented an individual who was required to work at the edge of the woods in the Summer of 2018. When the employee finished work for the day he drove home and immediately took a shower. While in the shower the individual noticed two or three ticks around the torso of his body. His wife removed the ticks and the employee thought nothing else of the matter.

The employee continued working for another ten days and began to develop fever-like symptoms. After seeing his family practitioner, the original diagnosis was heat stroke. Because of his illness, the employee was unable to go back to work. Bloodwork was taken and ultimately the employee was diagnosed with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The employee sought workers' compensation benefits.

The employer and its workers' compensation insurance company denied the claim. The employee therefore sought the services of Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers. Jeff Rufolo filed a Petition for Benefit Determination with the Tennessee Bureau of Workers' Compensation Claims. After additional work, the employer ultimately accepted the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever as a compensable injury, and paid for all past medical benefits and began paying the employee workers' compensation-temporary total disability benefits while he was off work. After over a year of payment of temporary total disability benefits, the employee was placed at maximum medical improvement by his treating physician. Although the doctor was unable to assign a numerical percentage of permanent medical impairment, Rufolo was still able to obtain a six figure settlement for permanent disability benefits.

Most people realize that when a bone is broken or a disc herniated at work, the individual is entitled to workers' compensation benefits. However, in certain cases, workers' compensation can also cover certain illnesses, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

National Freedom Foundation Award

On November 4, 2019, the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge presented through its Chattanooga Chapter, the National George Washington Honor Medal to Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers founder, Jerry H. Summers, in recognition of providing outstanding service to our community.

This award to Jerry follows a November 11, 2018, award of the local Chapter to Jerry of their Distinguished Citizen Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his and the firms dedication to a life of service to the community and its citizens.

Tennessee Innocence Project

Jerry Summers, Ben McGowan, and Marya Schalk on Wednesday, October 23, 2019, attended the inaugural dinner of the Tennessee Innocence Project which will provide free legal representation to individuals that may have been wrongfully convicted of criminal charges.

The dinner was held at the Montgomery Bell Academy and was attended by several hundred participants. The featured speaker was legendary author, John Grisham, who is an active supporter of the Innocent Project at the national level.

Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers was a table sponsor and will voluntarily participate in any cases assigned to them in the Chattanooga and State of Tennessee area on a pro bono (no fee) basis.

Firm Recognized

On Friday, October 4, 2019, at a reception in Knoxville, firm members Jerry Summers and Jeff Rufolo were recognized by the University of Tennessee Law School for Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers’ contribution in support of the Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution Department.

Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers senior member, Jerry Summers, was one of the Founding Members for the creation of the program and our firm has continued its support through the years. A scholarship to a third year law school student is also endowed by the firm for perpetual giving.

With four of our five attorneys being graduates of the law school, Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers is proud to continue financial support of our alma mater.

Legal Warrior Gone

The unexpected death of Dunlap trial lawyer, Stephen T. Greer a few weeks ago, has created a void in the ranks of respected trial lawyers who are widely respected by the local community for their ability and ethical standards.

The son of the late and equally respected attorney and judge, Thomas A. Greer, Steve created his own reputation of being a talented lawyer whose death came too soon. His obituary in the Dunlap news on August 8, 2019, by Karen House described just a portion of his unique life dedicated to his family, community, and the legal profession and the link is attached to this article.

Steve fought vigorously to protect the rights of his clients and to preserve the proper image of a plaintiff lawyer in civil cases and representing defendants in criminal cases.

Woe be the big city lawyer that ventured into the Sequatchie Valley where Steve or Tommy Austin's law firms were on the other side of a jury case.

He was a legal warrior!

A Badge Not for Sale

On Friday, September 20, 2019, attorney Jerry Summers was recognized as a 2019 Attorney for Justice by Justice Roger A. Page on behalf of the Tennessee Supreme Court for providing pro bono legal representation (legal work undertaken voluntarily and without payment) in Tennessee for individuals that could not afford the services of an attorney.

Said program is one created by the five Justices to encourage attorneys to participate in legal philanthropy to assist the citizens of the State of Tennessee. Said ceremony was part of a program of Community Justice presented by the Legal Aid of East Tennessee and the Chattanooga Bar Association.

The Certificate of Recognition allows Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers to display the Attorney for Justice seal on the law firms website, letterhead, resume, and other promotion or marketing materials.

Said honor doesn't require our firm to buy a plaque, piece of glassware, or get any fellow attorneys to write a recommendation to get us included in one of the 1,200 "Best of the _____?_______" money making entities now in existence after 1977 in the news media.

Area IV Special Olympics Football Games

While the UTK Vols and UTC Mocs were playing before 100,000 crazy football fans in Knoxville on Saturday, September 14, 2019, an equally excited but similar group of fans, volunteers, and participants on seven teams were engaged in the Area IV Regional Flag Football Invitational held at the Smith-Summers Field at Orange Grove Center.

Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers member, Jerry Summers, was honored to give the traditional Opening Declaration of "Let the games begin" after those in attendance recited the Special Olympics Oath of "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." The excitement enjoyed by those present matched the enthusiasm of the Knoxville crowd but not the noise.

It was further announced that Orange Grove Center under the direction of Hal Baker would be sending a team to participate in the State Championship games.

Jeff Rufolo Hits a Triple

Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers attorney, Jeff Rufolo, recently successfully concluded three difficult workers compensation and personal injury claims for "significant" amounts (our firm does not publicize the amounts of funds received in settlements and/or trials out of respect for our client’s privacy rights). The big legal advertisers in our area often throw out big numbers of cases they have settled, but due to the many variable factors, it may not accurately reflect the net result received by the client when subrogation rights of an employer or healthcare insurance carrier reduces the amount of net recovery.

Case No. 1

An employee of one of the national chain stores suffered a work related rotator cuff injury while lifting a rack of clothes over her head. Despite a small 4% permanent medical impairment rating by her authorized treating physician Jeff was nevertheless able to obtain a "substantial recovery through good lawyering to show the effect of the injury on her employability."

Case No. 2

This was a complicated case that resulted in an employee losing a portion of his left arm when his shirt got caught in an auger machine. The employer attempted to get out of paying the workers compensation claim due to an alleged safety violation by the employee. In an expedited hearing, Jeff was able to convince an administrative law judge in the Bureau of Workers Compensation that the employee did not violate a safety rule. The employer and its workers compensation insurance carrier appealed the ruling, but once again Jeff’s client was awarded benefits.

As a result of that ruling, the injured worker received appropriate medical treatment as well as two and half years of temporary total disability benefits. The client also received "very substantial" permanent disability benefits and lifetime medical care for his work related injury.

Case No. 3

Good lawyers always attempt to turn a workers compensation case into a third party personal injury or products liability case because of the potential for recovering substantial benefits above those allowed by workers compensation laws. Some attorneys do not investigate the possibility of pursuing a third party claim because of the degree of difficulty, the expenses involved, or other factors. The workers compensation carrier has a subrogation right (recover their money paid in the workers compensation case) and will often cooperate with the plaintiff’s attorney and reduce the amount of its subrogation claim.

An employee of a local bottling plant sustained a very serious injury when an explosion occurred as he was mixing two chemicals. The employee suffered burns to over 40% of his body. Under workers compensation laws, the employee received substantial awards including medical treatment, temporary total disability benefits, and permanent disability benefits. Our firm also investigated and pursued a third party claim against the outside company, which did not have the benefit of the limitation of damages afforded to the injured employee’s employer. After Jeff defeated the third party’s motion for summary judgment, arguing their negligent instructions led to the explosion, the case was finally resolved in excess of the more limited workers compensation statute.

Injured workers should never forego the possibility of suing a third party for negligence or a defective product. Jeff did not get invited to join the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers by making quick settlements that ultimately might jeopardize our client’s rights to a full recovery.

Jerry Summers in Edge Magazine

Senior member Jerry Summers was one of the lawyers recognized in the July edition of Edge Magazine in an article titled Lion of the Bar. It discussed Jerry's early life, legal career and personal philosophy about the practice of law after fifty-three years as a trial lawyer.

Surprisingly, the magazine's writer, Lisa Denton, gave extensive coverage to Jerry's "Don Quixote" campaign against "deceptive lawyer advertising" practiced by many lawyers attempting to acquire cases.

If you can't find a copy of the magazine, call the office at 423-265-2385 or email and we well will send you a free copy.

It is a non-solicitation piece designed to assist persons needing a lawyer and questions they should seek answers to before signing a contract of employment.

The blog "" is Jerry's blog that provides factual information about the legal ads as well as comments on the subject by Lewis Grizzard, John Grisham and others.

Hopefully, if you agree with the blogs contents, you will pass it on to others!

Recent Case Summaries

In a recent trial, a jury in Roanoke, Virginia returned a verdict for the plaintiffs Carlton Cooke, and wife Laurie Cooke in the amount of $69,740.00 for the husband (Carlton) and $21,523.00 for the wife (Laurie). Due to a high/low agreement that was entered into on the second day of trial, the wife’s recovery was increased to $30,000.00. Prior to trial, the defendant’s final offer was $15,000.00 (Laurie) and $50,000.00 (Carlton).

On May 13, 2016, the couple was traveling from their home in Connecticut to Tennessee to attend their granddaughter’s high school graduation when they were involved in a motor vehicle collision on Interstate 81 in Roanoke, Virginia. The husband sustained a knee injury that was diagnosed as a torn meniscus, and had surgery. The wife sustained an aggravation to a pre-existing neck injury.


On May 21, 2019, Jeff Rufolo was selected by the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA) as its "Lawyer of the Week"!

Jeff, a native of Florham Park, New Jersey, is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC- 1988) and the University of Tennessee College of Law at Knoxville (1991). He has been with Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers for 28 years and is an accomplished trial lawyer specializing in the fields of personal injury and workers’ compensation.

A Southern Conference wrestling champion, he is a member of the UTC Sports Hall of Fame.

Jeff was inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers in 2016, one of the most honorable and prestigious societies recognized in the legal community based on ability, ethics and peer review of lawyers with whom he has tried cases.

Jeff serves on the Board of Governors of TTLA and has tried (and won) several significant cases in the fields of personal injury and workers’ compensation.

Jeff is married to defense attorney Laura Beth Rufolo, and they are the proud parents of daughter, Lindsey, a 2019 graduate of Davidson University.

Congratulations Jeff!

Jerry SUMMERS INDUCTED INto the american academy of appellate lawyers

(PHILADELPHIA, PA.) Jerry Summers, founder of Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, was inducted into the prestigious American Academy of Appellate Lawyers as a fellow on April 12 in a ceremony in Philadelphia. Summers, an alumnus of the University of Tennessee College of Law, was lauded by its dean, Melanie Wilson, who remarking on Jerry's "storied career," said "He has dedicated his life to serving others through the practice of law. He is one of the University of Tennessee's most distinguished alumni and a leader in the Tennessee legal community."

The American Academy of Appellate Lawyers is a nonprofit organization which promotes the administration of justice through the highest standards of professionalism and advocacy in appellate courts.

In addition to this honor, Summers is a lifetime member of the College of Law Dean's Circle and was recognized with the University of Tennessee's Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2016.

Summers is one of two College of Law graduates to become a fellow in the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers and one of only four Tennesseeans.

Firm Members on Best Lawyers List

Once again members of our firm have received an "unsolicited" highest ranking in the 2019 Best Law Firms publication. We are proud to be one of the twenty-six Chattanooga law firms with Tier I ratings in the fields of Criminal Defense-General Practice, Criminal Defense-White Collar, and Personal Injury-Plaintiffs.

Jerry H. Summers, Jeff Rufolo, Jimmy Rodgers, Marya Schalk and Ben McGowan are responsible for this rating for good work on behalf of our clients.

As you have heard Jerry Summers say before, "we earn any high legal ratings, not buy them."

Freedom Foundation Award

On November 11, 2018, the Chattanooga Chapter of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge presented to Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, P.C.’s Jerry H. Summers their Distinguished Citizen Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his and the firms dedication to a life in service to the community and its citizens.

The mission of the Freedoms Foundation is to educate and inspire an awareness of the principles upon which the United States was founded and the responsibilities of citizens in a free society.

The goals of the Freedoms Foundation is to preserve the ideals, principles, and responsibilities upon which the United States was founded, educate young people on the heritage and values, and encourage Americans to become better informed, responsible, and active citizens in the social, political, and economic life of our nation.

Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, P.C. is proud of its support of Central High School, University of Tennessee at Knoxville undergraduate and law school, and the University of the South (Sewanee) in its educational fields.

Our local support of Orange Grove Center Special Olympics and others is much more than those publicly displayed on television of local law firms that purport to financially contribute to the good of the community.

This award and financial support to the named entities could not have been possible without the loyal clients over the years who have selected Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, P.C. to handle their legal matters based on experience, results, and not on misleading glitzy media advertisements and possible deception.

Rufolo Does Well Again

Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers attorney, Jeff Rufolo, in conjunction with a South Carolina firm, has resolved a case for a substantial sum in the unfortunate drowning of a fifteen year old student in the swimming pool at a private high school in Chattanooga.

The main theory was lack of proper supervision in violation of American Red Cross regulations pertaining to the prohibition against coaches serving in a dual capacity of instructor and lifeguard.

A confidential settlement was obtained after a long and complicated discovery period.

SRR Scholarship Fund-UTK Law School

At a recent symposium on legal advertising where he was a participant, senior member Jerry H. Summers accepted on behalf of the firm a book titled, Your Impact. The publication included heartwarming letters from fifteen scholarship recipients who have received scholarships from Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers Scholarships in the Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution.

A total of twenty-six scholarships have been awarded since the funds inception in 2009 with a total amount of $159,000.00 to assist in third year law students.

This has been funded by several charitable annuities and at the maturity date an additional substantial amount of funds will be available to future law students.

With four of our five attorneys being UTK Law graduates, our firm believes in helping the institution that has provided us with a quality legal education.

Firm Lawyers Declared "Mid-South Super Lawyers"

The annual Mid-South Super Lawyers Magazine has two (2) members of the firm listed based on the magazines rating system that contains "four patented selection process steps: 1.) nomination by peers (fellow lawyers); 2.) third party independent research in twelve (12) categories; 3.) peer evaluation review by a highly credentialed Blue Ribbon Panel of attorneys; and 4.) a final selection process of between 2.5% of attorneys selected as Rising Stars and 5% of attorneys selected to Super Lawyers in all categories.

Senior member of the firm, Jerry H. Summers, was once again selected as one of the Top 100 Tennessee Attorneys for 2018, along with Chattanooga attorney Thomas O. Helton and Michelle Kelly Johnson of the Baker Donelson firm and Roseanne Hill of the Chambliss firm. Jerry was also selected as a Super Lawyer in the Criminal Law category. Marya W. Schalk was once again selected as a Rising Star in Criminal Law.

The firm is particularly proud of Jerry and Marya being selected by Mid-South Super Lawyers because we did not buy ads, articles or purchase radio and television advertising touting their abilities as has become so prevalent in this area of expensive media advertising.

Ben McGowan Attends DUIDLA Seminar

Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers member, Benjamin McGowan, who handles the bulk of the firms DUI and criminal practice recently completed the 2018 DUIDLA Lawyers Association fall seminar in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to learn new developments in the field that might assist him and the firm in protecting the rights of our clients in the area of alcohol-drug related cases.

Ben is one of the few lawyers in the Chattanooga area who has received a certification in the area of Field Sobriety Tests which is always an important part of any DUI prosecution.

Ben also worked with Jerry Summers and Marya Schalk on the successful appeal in the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals on the issue of the validity of a Sobriety Checkpoint (Roadblock).

Lawyer Advertising & Marketing Symposium

On Friday, November 8, 2018, beginning at 1:00 p.m. a four hour panel discussion will be held at the University of Tennessee College of Law on the subject of lawyer advertising since 1978 when the topic was legalized by the United State Supreme Court in the landmark decision of Bates v. State Bar of Arizona. Former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice and head of the Student Advocacy Center at UTK, Professor Penny White, will moderate the discussion on the negative and positive aspects of the publics enhanced "right to know" of the availability of lawyer services through advertising and marketing.

Jerry H. Summers of Summers Rufolo & Rodgers, P.C. will give his opinions as to the good and bad of the subject and how it has changed the practice of law since the Bates decision. Many of these views are already stated on his independent blog "" that has been in existence for over a year.

A representative of one of the large law firms in the area will speak on the subject of how they market the firm to the public under the standards of Bates and subsequent appellate decision by courts and actions of bar associations across the country.

As of this date no one has come forward to speak on the more questionable area of lawyer advertising in the area of personal injury law as it applies to injured parties (plaintiff) as a result of car/tractor trailer accidents, defective products, medical malpractice, etc.

Dual Continuing Legal Education credit has been approved for the symposium in the event any attorneys need to comply with the yearly (CLE) requirements established in this area of the legal system.

UTK Law students have been invited to attend for what hopefully will be a lively discussion on how the topic of allowing attorneys to market their services in the media to the public has affected the image of the legal profession.

Additional information can be obtained from the UTK College of Law, 1505 Cumberland Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37996 (865) 974-4241.

Tennessee Roadblock Suppression Upheld

A recent victory in the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals will stand following the expiration of the deadline for filing an appeal by the State Attorneys General’s Office to the Tennessee Supreme Court on October 22. The case was handled at the trial and appellate levels by Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers attorneys Jerry Summers, Marya Schalk and Ben McGowan.

The defendant was stopped at a roadblock set up on the north end of the Stringers Ridge Tunnel as he attempted to go home from the Riverbend Festival held every year on the riverfront in downtown Chattanooga. The basis upon which the case was ultimately dismissed was the lack of pre-roadblock publicity to the public in the news media and also lack of warning that a roadblock (sobriety checkpoint) was set up on the south end of the tunnel which would have allowed the drivers to avoid the roadblock by taking another route.

A copy of said opinion by Judge Camille McMillen can be obtained by calling the office at 423-265-2385 or by clicking the below link.

If you have the unfortunate experience of being stopped at a roadblock and charged with DUI, you should have an experienced DUI attorney check the facts and circumstances of your case to determine whether it complies with the requirements of state law and law enforcement agencies’ regulations.

Summers Elected to Academy of Appellate Lawyers

Jerry H. Summers was elected to be a member of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers at the academy's recent meeting.

The American Academy of Appellate Lawyers was founded in 1990 to recognize outstanding appellate lawyers and promote the improvement of appellate advocacy and the administration of the appellate courts.

Academy membership is open only to a person who possesses a reputation of distinction as an appellate lawyer.

To be eligible for membership, a nominee's practice must have focused substantially on appeals during at least the last 15 years. Academy membership is limited to 500 members in the U.S.

Membership in the academy is by invitation only. Candidates for membership must be nominated by a present academy member, reviewed and approved by a membership evaluation committee and elected at a regular meeting.

"This achievement is important to me because only three attorneys in Tennessee have been recognized in this manner and they're all high-quality lawyers," Summers says. "To be included in their company is an honor."

Summers estimates he has appealed over 200 cases during his 52-year career as an attorney. This includes three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Summers and attorney Marya Schalk along with Ben McGowan, Jeff Rufolo and Jimmy Rodgers have all successfully argued/participated in cases in the Tennessee appellate courts and in the federal courts.

If you have a case that you want to appeal because of an adverse decision, please contact Jerry or Marya for a consultation and possible review.

Ben mcgowan obtained an exceptional result in a recent criminal defense case

A Criminal Court jury, on March 14th, 2018, found our client Matthew Harvey not guilty in a fatal bar stabbing.

Prosecutor Kevin Brown had told the jury on Tuesday that Harvey's actions at a Hixson bar on April 5, 2016, were "unnecessary, unreasonable and excessive."

Defense attorney Ben McGowan countered that Harvey was coming to the aid of another man when he stabbed Shawn Russell, who soon died of a puncture wound to the heart. The attorney said, "He was taking action to stop a beating. It was not unnecessary, unreasonable or excessive."

Harvey was standing trial for voluntary manslaughter in the courtroom of Judge Tom Greenholtz.

Polar plunge sponsored by firm

Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, P.C. was the main sponsor of the Fourth Annual fundraising event held on Saturday, February 10, 2018, to support Tennessee Special Olympics and Area IV Special Olympics.

Firm runner and UTC student, Noah Cross, represented the office by jumping into the 45 degree water as his parents cheered for him from the sidelines.

Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, P.C. has been a major sponsor of this worthwhile event since its beginning.

Landmark Dui Decision by firm

On February 6, 2018, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals issued an opinion that declared TCA 55-10-41 3(f) which allows the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to receive $250.00 for each conviction wherein that law enforcement agency provided a toxicologist to either test a blood sample or calibrate a breath machine who would then testify for the prosecution was unconstitutional and violated due process of law under the Tennessee and federal constitutions.

Jerry Summers, Marya Schalk and Ben McGowan all worked on various phases of the case and appeal.

The State filed an appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court. The Tennessee Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals on August 23, 2018. However, this is not the end. Our firm will be filing a Petition for Cert to the United States Supreme Court and will be awaiting a decision by the Court has to whether they will accept this case for review.

Regardless of whether this case is accepted, as a result of our challenge to this statute, the Tennessee Legislature has amended the statute to address the potential due process violation and potential bias by requiring that funds collected for blood alcohol testing no longer be paid directly to the TBI. The funds are now paid to the state general fund.

Statement of Jerry h. Summers

A terminated attorney in our firm's medical malpractice section has committed acts which have adversely affected the rights of several of our clients. When this was discovered we immediately took corrective action and obtained the services of two qualified medical malpractice law firms with over 60 years combined experience in the field to objectively review the cases and to take any possible corrective action. They were instructed to make legal decisions in the best interests of the clients, not those of our law firm.

All known clients have been notified and viable cases have been transferred to other counsel. All clients were also urged to seek other independent counsel of their own choosing to give them a third opinion as to whether they had or still have a viable lawsuit.

The legal options available to the clients that we have met with or talked to over the phone have been fully explained to each individual or their family. We have fully cooperated with every legal agency or industry agency looking into these cases and will continue to do so. The self-appointed critic, Mr. Caraway, is correct that mistakes of negligence were made by the fired attorney unknown to other members of the firm. He is incorrect in his opinion that our firm has not reviewed any case without the main objective being to help the client.

Med mal cases are different from other tort cases. The main defect by the terminated lawyer, amongst others, was to create a false hope by injured parties in the healthcare area without objectively advising them of the degree of difficulty of said cases, anticipated expense, and lack of favorable recoveries by settlement or jury verdicts amounting in only approximately 1% of the cases. Not every bad result by a physician or healthcare provider is malpractice. Unfortunately this was never explained to the majority of clients by the fired attorney.

For almost fifty-two (52) years our firm has attempted to represent and protect our clients' interests. We will continue to do so in spite of this unfortunate situation.

If we have not contacted you or any relative or friend and you believe you still have a pending case that was formerly handled by James T. Neal, please contact me at 423-265-2385. Your call will be returned immediately.

Jerry H. Summers

Medical Malpractice Section Notice

A terminated employee in our Medical Malpractice Section ONLY has created problems for some of our clients and the firm.

If you contacted or employed our firm in a medical malpractice case and you believe it is still pending or under investigation please contact Jerry Summers or Nick Walker at the firm at 423-265-2385 immediately.

Mocs Announce Hall of Fame Class of 2018

Jeff Rufolo – Wrestling – 1985-88 - Rufolo was a three-time Southern Conference Champion at 190 pounds. He won league titles in 1985, 1987 and 1988, qualifying for the NCAA Tournament each of those years. Rufolo posted a 74-34-3 career record with a .680 winning percentage. He helped lead the Mocs to SoCon team titles three times in his career.

New Book Release By Jerry H. Summers

NEW BOOK "Schoolfield: Out of the Ashes 1958-1982" - includes a DVD of Raulston Schoolfield speaking

Sequel to " Rush to Justice? Tennessee's Forgotten Trial of the Century - Schoolfield 1958" by Jerry H. Summers due for release November 2017


On August 1, 2017, Chattanooga attorney Jerry H. Summers initiated an independent website blog titled ""

It will address exaggerated and possible deceptive advertising tactics by the small minority of attorneys that engage in social media solicitation in the fields of personal injury, social security, bankruptcy, divorce, criminal law, etc.

The blog will be separate from the Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers website of

Although the blog will primarily address lawyer advertising in the southeast Tennessee and northwest Georgia areas the articles are designed to address issues that have statewide application.

Any member of the Tennessee Bar Association is hereby granted permission to use any of the material in their advertising or to alter or adopt it to their own practice.

What the public is being exposed to in the social media greatly exceeds the principles adopted by the United States Supreme Court decision of Bates v. State Bar of Nevada in 1977.

Let the discussion begin!


Jerry Summers announces that his book on the life of beloved Chattanooga Central football coach, educator, principal, and Iwo Jima survivor, Stan Farmer, is available for purchase.

The price is $21.95 and can be picked up at our law office in The James Building. If you want it mailed to you, send an additional $4.50 for postage.

Checks are the preferred method of payment and should be made payable to the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga (CFGC) and listed as "Donation-Stan Farmer Scholarship" and should be mailed to or picked up at our office.

The book contains 209 pages with 175 additional photographs depicting Coach’s career at Central and the teams he coached with E.B. Etter, Jake Seaton, Les Newton, and others. Most importantly it includes statements by former Central students at both Dodds Avenue and Highway 58 as to the impact he had on their lives.

All proceeds will go to the Farmer scholarship to help Central seniors further their goals of getting a college education.

He was the real "Central Connection."

For more information, please click here

Rufolo Elected to TTLA Board

Jeff Rufolo, at the recent Annual Convention of the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA) in Asheville, North Carolina, was elected as a representative of the 4 th District on the Board of Governors.

TTLA is the largest bar association in the State of Tennessee whose members represent only injured persons in accidents and on the job injuries as well as defective products.

As previously announced Jeff was recently inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers by a vote of his peers in the Chattanooga and Tennessee areas and approved by the national board. It is a high honor that has to be earned and cannot be bought with the purchase of a badge or membership.

Jeff is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville College of Law and has been with our firm for 26 years handling personal injury cases for plaintiffs.

The Firms Involvement in Legal Organizations

With the election of Jeff Rufolo to the Board of the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association, Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers continues its activities in legal groups that participate in areas of the law that the firm is involved.

Founding senior member Jerry H. Summers has served on the national boards of the Association of Justice (personal injury) and American Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (criminal law) and has served as state president in Tennessee of the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association and Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (TACDL).

Jimmy Rodgers currently is a member of the Board of Governors of the Chattanooga Bar Association while Ben McGowan is a member of the Board of Governors of the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Marya Schalk is an active member of the Federal Bar Association in Chattanooga due to her involvement in federal criminal cases in Chattanooga and the Eastern District of Tennessee.

While voluntary participation in any legal organization does not guarantee any successful results in a case it does show that the individual or firm has an interest in a particular area(s) of the law which might encourage them to stay abreast of any developments that might help them to further assist a client in that area.

Xarelto Case Update

We previously announced that we had been looking into cases involving the blood thinner Xarelto which has caused bleeding complications and even death. We have since been retained in several cases and it has been projected that there are now presently 15,000 cases in the legal system.

There have been warnings by the Federal Drug Administration about bleeding side effects but the manufacturer continues to heavily advertise the drug in the social media. One of the most popular ads promoting Xarelto involved the late great golfer, Arnold Palmer and Nascar driver Brian Vickers and comedian Kevin Nealon. The drug manufacturer did not disclose in its ads that Palmer had undergone surgery in August 2016 for gastrointestinal problems. He later died on September 25, 2016.

If you are taking Xarelto or the other blood thinner Pradaxa and incur internal bleeding problems or are an atrial fibrillation patient please contact us if your rights or the status of the ongoing litigation in this case. Over 2 million Americans have been treated with this drug and unfortunately more physicians are now recommending this new and more expensive drug.

The first Xarelto trial in New Orleans in May 2017 ended in a jury verdict in favor of the drug manufacturer. This is not unusual in mass tort cases as sometimes cases have to be tried in order to be successful later. The lawyers handling these cases are committed to continuing to seek justice in various jurisdictions. The medical science still supports the theories that Xarelto is a dangerous drug and the manufacturer did not warn patients of all the problems associated with the drug.

If you or your loved one has a bleeding problem with Xarelto you should still investigate your legal remedies.

Jeffrey Rufolo recently successfully settled a slip-and-fall case

Jeffrey Rufolo recently successfully settled a slip-and-fall case at mediation. The plaintiff, a seventy-seven (77) year old individual fell while walking across a gymnasium floor of a local municipality, sustaining a fractured hip and right arm, both necessitating surgery. Settlement reached for an undisclosed amount. When suing a municipality, under the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act, the maximum award is $300,000.00. This case was referred to Jeff by another attorney. Slip and fall cases are difficult to prosecute and for this reason most of the law firms that advertise through the media do not attempt to solicit those types of cases.

While Jeff was attending a seminar in Las Vegas, Nevada on Mass Torts, one of the speakers in his presentation commented that "there is no greater honor than another attorney referring a case to you".

The law firm of Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, P.C. takes great pride in the fact that attorneys across the tristate area have referred cases to our firm for well over 50 years. Lawyers know good lawyers. Whether it be past satisfied clients, or other lawyers, a large portion of the clients at Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, P.C. come to the firm based on a positive referral. We believe there is no greater compliment as to a firm's ability than a referral.

Marya Schalk ATTENDING the Twenty-Sixth Annual National Seminar on Federal Sentencing Guidelines

Marya Schalk in our Criminal Law Section will attend her ninth consecutive meeting of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Federal Bar Association conducting the Twenty-Sixth Annual National Seminar on Federal Sentencing Guidelines in St. Petersburg, Florida, in June this year.

Since approximately 90% of all federal cases are concluded by pleas of guilty, the sentencing phase of a case is often the most important aspect of any case not concluded by a trial. Recognizing issues that need to be preserved for any appellate review or for use in sentencing are parts of the criminal justice system that Marya is well-experienced. As a former law clerk for an appellate judge in Tennessee her ability to find the law and put it in a legal document has been vital in efforts to get a lower sentence or sentence reduction in many federal (and state) cases handled by her and senior member, Jerry H. Summers.

Ben Mcgowan obtained an exceptional result in a vehicular homicide case

Ben McGowan in our Criminal Law Section has just obtained an exceptional result in a Vehicular Homicide case that originally included charges involving intoxication by use of multiple prescription drugs including Demerol, Soma and Xanax.

Following a successful Motion to Dismiss an A felony Aggravated Vehicular Homicide (carrying mandatory imprisonment of 15 to 25 years), Ben secured a further reduction to a Reckless Aggravated Assault (carrying 3 to 6 years) and pursued a sentencing hearing seeking a non-prison sentence. After three days of contested hearings, the trial judge sentenced the client to a split sentence involving an 11/29 days in the workhouse and fifteen years supervised release. The defendant will be released from the Hamilton County workhouse after serving 6 months of incarceration.

Ben is probably the only Hamilton County attorney to be certified as a Field Sobriety expert and handles a variety of alcohol-related offenses with senior member, Jerry H. Summers.

Marya Schalk's Appellate Talents

The firm has had the benefit of the appellate talents of Marya Schalk for eleven (11) years. A graduate of Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee College of Law, she served as a law clerk for retired Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Joe Tipton and has written many excellent appellate briefs in both Tennessee and federal courts.

Many lawyers feel uncomfortable in attempting to comply with the technical requirements of both state and federal rules in appellate matters.

We are making Marya's talents available to any lawyer or firm in the Chattanooga area if you would like her to assist you in preparing any brief that you need to file on behalf of your client's case. To discuss financial criteria, give Marya or Jerry Summers a call at (423) 265-2385.

Jeff Rufolo settled for the maximum liability insurance coverage, in a recent case.

Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, P.C. member, Jeff Rufolo, recently represented the mother of a six year old boy who was thrown from a farm tractor. After a valiant fight, the young boy passed away six months after his fall. The case was settled for the maximum liability insurance coverage of the defendant.

Out of respect for the privacy of the injured parties our firm does not normally report the amount of any settlements unless asked to do so by our clients.

The practice of projecting money settlement amounts of say $100,000 on a television screen by some advertising law firms may be a deceptive practice if the case was worth substantially more after protracted discovery or trial.

Ben Mcgowan wins reckless aggravated assault case

Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers Criminal Section member Ben McGowan on Thursday, March 30, 2017, won a hotly contested Reckless Aggravated Assault case in Division I of the Criminal Court of Hamilton County with a not guilty verdict. The case was originally charged as Attempted First Degree Murder.

Ben is a member of the Board of Governors of the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and a certified field sobriety expert in DUI cases.

For a decade and a half Ben has been developing a reputation for getting good results in both civil and criminal cases based on his trial experience and hard work.

Law Firm Invests in UTC’s Criminal Justice Program
UTC receives scholarships endowment from Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, P.C.

"The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga announced that an investment has been made by the law firm of Summers, Rufolo and Rodgers to provide scholarships for students of the university’s Criminal Justice program. This educational award will be issued annually, and will alternate its focus each year between students who wish to become prosecuting attorneys and those with aspirations of becoming a defense attorney."

"UTC greatly appreciates Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers for years of loyal support in making Chattanooga better by helping students accomplish their career goals in the field of criminal justice," said Dr. Karen McGuffee, associate professor and Criminal Justice Program Coordinator. "The generosity of this gift will help many young men and women realize both personal and professional success. Thank you."

Jerry Summers: A life lived for the law. After 50 years, "I can still hit the ball." (part 2 of a 2 part series)


3 changes that have negatively impacted the legal profession: Jerry Summers gets a few things off his chest as he crosses the 50-year mark in the practice of law


Jeff Rufolo Inducted Into American College of Trial Lawyers

Jeff Rufolo on September 17, 2016, was inducted into the membership of the prestigious American College of Trial Layers (ACTL) at its Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The significance of Jeff's selection is that membership is not based on the purchase of a plaque or a flat fee for selection.

The exclusive membership is by a unanimous vote of lawyers in Tennessee who have tried cases with and against Jeff in litigation and in the courtroom.

Jeff joins Jerry Summers (inducted Class of 1988) as a member of ACTL and the firm now has two of its six attorneys in the Tennessee membership of approximately 135 men and women who have earned this honor.

Jeff and Jerry are two of fourteen attorneys in the Chattanooga legal community that currently have been invited to join ACTL.

Jeff has been a member of Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, P.C. for 26 years and handles all types of personal injury cases for injured parties in state and federal courts.


Jerry Summers Selected as UTK Distinguished Alumnus for 2016

Jerry Summers, founding member of Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, P.C. has been selected as one of three Distinguished Alumnus in 2016 from the 244,000 alumni of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville for his commitment to the Law School.

Jerry, a graduate of the Class of 1966 was one of the founders for the Center for Advocacy which trains law students in the art of advocacy in the courtroom and mediation. The Center now bears his name as an honor for chairing the law schools portion of the 1 Billion Dollar fundraising campaign held several years ago and he is the honorary chairman for the latest upcoming campaign by the University.

Jerry is the managing principal at Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, P.C. and works closely with the five other lawyers in the firm in all civil and criminal cases of injured individuals or those charged with criminal offenses.


Jerry Summers' new book "Rush to Justice? Tennessee's Forgotten Trial of the Century" now released

The book, "Rush to Justice? Tennessee's Forgotten Trial of the Century" (Waldenhouse Publishers Inc.) written by Jerry Summers is now available.

Mr. Summers has spent six years of research documenting the 1958 impeachment trial of the late Hamilton County Judge Raulston Schoolfield.

Jerry Summers has recreated Schoolfield's mid-century impeachment by the Tennessee Senate and his subsequent disbarment in a new book. Summers leaves it to readers to decide the merits of the case.

To find out more, please read the recent article on the


Schoolfield Book Now Available

Volume I of the proposed two book set about the last impeachment by the Tennessee General Assembly on July 12, 1958 and the colorful and controversial life story of Judge Raulston Schoolfield up to that date has now been published by Jerry Summers.

Attached to this blog is a copy of the front and back cover of the book with the reviews by five critics and a short synopsis of the contents.

If you or anyone is interested in obtaining a copy of the book please fill in the order form at the bottom and forward to our law office with a check.

If you have any questions about the book please feel free to contact Jerry at the office number.

Short Summary of Book

Order Your Copy Today


Defending DUI Vehicular Homicide Cases

Attorney Jerry H. Summers is one of the authors in the afore-styled publication soon to be released by Aspatore Books, a Thomson Reuters business, in 2015-2016.

Jerry's chapter is styled "Creatively Representing and Defending Clients in Alcohol Related Cases and is part of the "Inside the Minds" series and the authors of each chapter have been selected based on their legal experience and standing in the legal community.

Five leading criminal defense lawyers across the country were selected to write chapter on this timely topic. Copies can be purchased by contacting Aspatore at

SR&R attorneys named to 2015 Mid-South Super Lawyers and Mid-South Rising Stars lists

Summers, Rufolo and Rodgers, P.C., is proud to announce that Jerry H. Summers and Jimmy F. Rodgers, Jr., have been named to the 2015 Mid-South Super Lawyers list as two of the top attorneys in Tennessee, and Marya L. Schalk has been named to the 2015 Mid-South Rising Stars list. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. Jerry Summers was selected for his work in the Criminal Defense field, while Jimmy Rodgers was recognized for his work in the area of Personal Injury Plaintiff: Products. This is the tenth year that Jerry has been named to the list, and the fourth year that Jimmy has been named.

Marya L. Schalk was named to the Mid-South Rising Stars list as one of the top up-and-coming attorneys in Tennessee for 2015. Each year, no more that 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state receive this honor. This is the fifth year that Marya has been recognized as a Rising Star.

Jerry H. Summers was also recognized as one of only three lawyers from Chattanooga among "The Top 100" lawyers for the entire State of Tennessee in the 2015 Mid-South Super Lawyers magazine.

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a rigorous multi-phased process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates, and peer reviews by practice area. The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers magazines and in leading city and regional magazines across the country. For more information about Super Lawyers, go to

Finally, Jerry H. Summers was recently chosen once again as one of the "Best Lawyers in America" for 2016. This is the 33 rd consecutive year that Jerry has been chosen. Jerry was selected in the areas of white collar & non-white collar criminal law, & personal injury plaintiff's law.

Please note: unlike many "awards" touted by some lawyers and law firms, these recognitions were not obtained by purchasing an ad, plaque, membership, or some self-serving article from either publication.


Summers and Rufolo named top attorneys in Best Lawyers

The following article appeared in the September 18-24, 2015, Hamilton County Herald. Jerry Summers would like to make one correction: we do not engage in any deceptive radio, television, or social media advertising. We have a website like all modern law firms and we do support the UTC Mocs sports programs on the radio.

By David Laprad

The six-member law firm of Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers has announced that members Jerry Summers and Jeff Rufolo have been selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers in America for 2016.

Summers has been selected for Best Lawyers in either criminal defense or personal injury plaintiff counsel every year since the publication began in 1983.

Rufolo's peers selected him as a Best Lawyer in the area of personal injury litigation - plaintiffs.

The two attorneys said they appreciate their respective designations as Lawyer of the Year because the selections were made by attorneys they litigate with and against in the Chattanooga community. "The best source of recognition is referrals from satisfied clients and positive peer reviews," said Summers. "Our firm slogan is, 'Where the practice of law is still a profession, not a business.' As such, we do not engage in ... radio, television, or social media advertising."

The firm currently known as Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers was formed in 1969.



The firm is proud to announce that member Ben McGowan has recently been certified in DUI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) designed program created for law enforcement as well as Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE).

It is believed that Ben is the first attorney to be certified in this area of Tennessee and this training and knowledge will allow him and other attorneys to effectively cross-examine police officers on the proper administration of said tests that are given in any suspected DUI investigation but are not mandatory to be given to any driver suspected of being under the influence.

Ben’s certification and his trial experience will help the firm to better represent persons charged with serious alcohol related offenses.

Ben has focused his legal career protecting the rights of individuals accused of crimes in state and federal court. Handling cases running the gamut from First Degree Murder to minor status offenses, his practice has encompassed a broad array of work, however, the increasingly aggressive prosecution of Driving Under the Influence cases has resulted in the practice consisting of a large number of such cases, as well as vehicular homicide and vehicular assault cases related to alleged intoxication.



The law firm of Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, P.C., recently settled a mesothelioma lawsuit it brought on behalf of the wife and family of a local man who was diagnosed with and died from the rare asbestos-related malignancy known as mesothelioma. The man had been exposed to asbestos during his lengthy career with the railroad. The lawsuit was filed in Hamilton County (TN) Circuit Court under the Federal Employers Liability Act.

After an extensive and exhaustive pre-trial process that had the case within days of starting trial, the railroad agreed to settle the case for a substantial amount. The case was handled by SRR attorneys Jimmy Rodgers and Jerry Summers, in partnership with Motley Rice attorney Rett Guerry. A related products liability lawsuit filed in another state against various asbestos manufacturers and suppliers remains pending.



Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers is a proud supporter of the Special Olympics. On February 14, 2015 the Freezin' For A Reason Polar Plunge will take place. This will be at Finley Stadium. For more information, please view the attached information.


Attorney Jimmy Rodgers was recently on the front page of the Hamilton County Herald. The January 16th, 2015 article: "Attorney finds personal, professional satisfaction in work with clients" displayed on the front page. Click here to view the entire article.



Chattanooga attorney Jerry H. Summers received the University of the South Distinguished Alumnus Award during Homecoming ceremonies at the university, familiarly known as Sewanee. Mr. Summers is a member of the university’s class of 1963. The Distinguished Alumnus Award honors individuals who have distinguished themselves in their vocation and have demonstrated concern for and service to their community.

Mr, Summers is a lifelong resident of Hamilton County. After graduating from Sewanee with a degree in economics, he received his law degree at the University of Tennessee College of Law, then worked as a prosecutor in the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office before entering private practice in 1969.

He was the founding member of what is now Summers, Rufolo, and Rodgers, P.C., a firm with a diverse practice that includes workers’ compensation, criminal defense, personal injury, labor law, and other practice areas.

Mr. Summers has served as president of the Tennessee Association for Justice and the Tennessee Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, and as a board member for the American Association for Justice and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He is one of three attorneys in Tennessee invited to join the American Board of Criminal Lawyers. On two occasions, Mr. Summers has taken cases to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mr. Summers’ belief in giving back to the community is demonstrated by his service on the boards of Area IV Special Olympics, Orange Grove Center (for the mentally and physically impaired), CADAS (treatment of alcohol/drug abuse), and other organizations. Mr. Summers was one of the original founders whose gifts created the Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution at the UT law school, and he also created the Summers-Wyatt Trial Advocacy Endowment, funding student scholarships.

Mr, Summers’ recent book, "The Turtle and The Lawyer," has been described as a public "thank you" to the people and organizations that made a significant impact on his life. All proceeds from the sale of the book go to charities.



Summers, Rufolo and Rodgers, P.C., is proud to announce that Jerry H. Summers and Jimmy F. Rodgers, Jr., have been named to the 2014 Mid-South Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in Tennessee, and Marya L. Schalk has been named to the 2014 Mid-South Rising Stars list. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. Jerry Summers was selected for his work in the Criminal Defense field, while Jimmy Rodgers was recognized for his work in the area of Personal Injury Plaintiff: Products.

Marya L. Schalk was named to the Mid-South Rising Stars list as one of the top up-and-coming attorneys in Tennessee for 2014. Each year, no more that 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state receive this honor. The selection for this respected list is made by the research team at Super Lawyers.

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a rigorous multi-phased process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates, and peer reviews by practice area.

The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers magazines and in leading city and regional magazines across the country. Super Lawyers magazines also feature editorial profiles of attorneys who embody excellence in the practice of law. For more information about Super Lawyers, go to

Also, Jerry H. Summers was recently chosen once again as one of the "Best Lawyers in America" for 2015. This is the 32nd consecutive year that Jerry has been chosen. Jerry was selected in the areas of white collar & non-white collar criminal law, & personal injury plaintiff's law.



Since 1973, Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers has successfully handled asbestos lung cancer and mesothelioma cases.

We are trial lawyers who have been located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for 46 years, not brokers who solicit cases on radio and television and then send the cases to other lawyers. We will personally be involved in your case.

Contact Jerry H. Summers or Jimmy Rodgers if you need information, or to set-up a free consultation.

Visit us online at, call us at 423-933-2738, or e-mail us at [email protected] or [email protected].



The law firm of Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers recently settled a wrongful death claim it brought on behalf of the siblings of a local man, who drowned when his fishing boat was hit by a barge being pushed by a tugboat operated by Serodino, Inc. Tragically, this was the second incident in a one year period in which the "M/V Bearcat", the tug owned and operated by Serodino, Inc. had collided with a recreational fishing boat, kill its occupants.

The deceased was employed as a janitor at Falling Water Elementary School in Hixson, Tennessee. The impact the deceased had at the school was evident when in a ceremony after his death, the school dedicated its cafeteria to be forever known as "Mr. Rick's Place". Although he was not married and did not have any children, the loss was especially difficult for his siblings and other extended family members.

After an extensive and exhaustive investigation, including the filing of a lawsuit in Federal Court, the claim was settled for a confidential amount. The claim was handled by attorneys Jeffrey W. Rufolo and Jerry H. Summers.



Like 2012, Jerry Summers has been selected in 2013 as one of two Chattanooga lawyers selected by Mid-South Super Lawyers as being among the top 100 attorneys in Tennessee. Roger W. Dickson of the Miller and Martin law firm was the other Chattanoogan selected. The significance of the selection is that Jerry and Roger were picked by votes of the practicing attorneys in the State without having to buy a plaque or ad. When looking for an attorney to represent them, members of the public should be wary of the selection by advertising organizations that allow members to be picked by merely buying their way on to any "Best" list.



The Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution now resides proudly on the third floor of the College of Law in the Jerry H. Summers Suite. The center named its new location for one of its most staunch supporters and one of its founders, Jerry H. Summers. Read more about this story from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville College of Law.



Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers is proud to announce that senior member Jerry H. Summers has been selected as one of five Chattanooga attorneys to be included in the Super Lawyers overall Top One Hundred Super Attorneys in the State of Tennessee for 2012, along with T. Maxfield Bahner and Bruce C. Bailey of Chambliss, Bahner and Stophel, Harry F. Burnette of Burnette, Dobson and Pinchak and Roger Dickson of Miller and Martin, PLLC.

Said list was based on the criteria of the lawyers who received the highest point totals in the Tennessee nomination research and blue ribbon process by fellow Tennessee attorneys.

Super Lawyers is also a rating service of outstanding lawyers from seventy (70) practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process is based on multiple factors and includes research peer nominations and peer evaluations by fellow attorneys.

Jimmy Rodgers of Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers has previously been selected in the category of Mid-South Super Lawyer in the area of individuals who have contracted mesothelioma, lung cancer, or other asbestos-related lung diseases and on union-side labor law, and Marya Schalk has been selected as a Rising Young Star Lawyer in the field of criminal law.

The important characteristics of the selection of Jerry, Jimmy and Marya is that they did not have to purchase any listing in said publication to receive their high ratings as attorneys. It is becoming increasingly popular to create a new listing category for profit and to invite lawyers to join and be listed as a Best Lawyer based primarily on their joining said organization and paying a membership fee.



The law firm of Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers is pleased to announce that Attorney Ben McGowan has successfully completed the "DUI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing" course taught by nationally recognized instructor, Anthony Palacios, and is believed to be the first non-law enforcement graduate in the Chattanooga and Southeast Tennessee area of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) course used to train officers to meet the "particularized" requirement that all field sobriety tests be performed properly or otherwise will not be allowed in court and/or can be subject to cross-examination in DUI and related cases. Since police officers always ask motorists that they have stopped to perform the three NHTSA approved tests (and others that are not approved), it is important that said tests be conducted properly and in the specific requirements of the NHTSA regulations to be admissible in court. Many citizens do not know that it is their right to refuse to do any Field Sobriety Tests but are often erroneously told that the tests may help them. While this is theoretically correct, if a person has any odor of alcohol on their breath in Hamilton County, Tennessee, the reality is that they are going to jail irrespective of the results of said tests.

Ben's training in this area in the DUI Division of Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers should help protect the constitutional and statutory rights of persons accused of DUI that said Field Sobriety Tests must be conducted properly.

Remember: "Don't drink and drive" but if you do, you should retain the best qualified and experienced law firm to defend you in DUI cases that may adversely have serious collateral consequences on your life and future.

Ben McGowan, Jerry Summers and Marya Schalk constitute the DUI team at Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers and will be glad to advise you of your rights.


Jerry H. Summers and the law firm of Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, P.C., are proud to announce that Jimmy F. Rodgers, Jr., has been named to the Mid-South Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in Tennessee for 2013. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. The area of law for which Mr. Rodgers was selected was in Personal Injury Plaintiff: Products.

Mr. Rodgers concentrates most of his practice in the representation of individuals who have contracted mesothelioma, lung cancer, or other asbestos-related lung diseases and in union-side labor law. In addition to representing mesothelioma/asbestos victims and their families, his clients include the Chattanooga Building & Construction Trades Council, the Chattanooga Area Labor Council, the I.B.E.W. Local 175, and the Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 43. Mr. Rodgers is starting his 20th year as an attorney with Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers.
Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a rigorous multi-phased process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates, and peer reviews by practice area.

The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers magazines and in leading city and regional magazines across the country. Super Lawyers magazines also feature editorial profiles of attorneys who embody excellence in the practice of law. For more information about Super Lawyers, go to

BENJAMIN L. MCGOWAN JOINS Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers

On October 1, 2012, Benjamin L. McGowan became the seventh attorney to join Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers. Ben is a licensed attorney in the states of Tennessee, Massachusetts and New York. He is a graduate of Northeastern School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts with undergraduate degrees from New York University and the University of the South at Sewanee.

Ben is working primarily in the firm's criminal law defense and complex civil litigation section. Since coming to Chattanooga in 2006, Ben previously worked as an Assistant Public Defender and was also associated with the law firm of Cavett and Abbott. He is married to the former Cara Gavin and they have a six-year-old son, Gavin.

"Ben has an extensive record of handling trials and appellate matters in many parts of both the civil and criminal areas of our legal system. Most importantly, he is well respected by his fellow attorneys and the judiciary. We are pleased to have Ben as a member of Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers." - Jerry H. Summers.

Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers ESTABLISHES DUI SECTION

Ever since the Tennessee General Assembly enacted a tough Driving Under the Influence Statute (DUI) 1982, Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers has probably handled as many DUI, vehicular homicides and vehicle assault cases in the trial and appellate courts in Tennessee as any other law firm as part of its general criminal law practice.

Upon increasing pressure from politicians, law enforcement and special interest groups such as the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the National Highway Safety Council (NHSC) and others, the attack on drivers who consume alcoholic beverages and then drive an automobile has resulted in the arrest and prosecution of hundreds of thousands of American citizens and the expenditure of billions of taxpayer dollars.

The theme of the above special interest groups and others, including "law and order" politicians, is to "save lives and reduce the accidents by prosecuting the DUIs". This simple sounding goal is appealing to everyone but is inadequate to address a very complex problem.

The purpose of this article and subsequent ones is not to attempt to justify any violation of the law in the area of DUI and related offenses. Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers in many articles and blogs have attempted to inform the public of certain laws and consequences for those who get charged in this area of the law. We have previously published rules concerning the rights of citizens faced with the dilemma of facing the accused. Our first rule of advice has always been "don't drink and drive".

With the addition of former Assistant Public Defender Benjamin McGowan to Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, to assist Jerry H. Summers and Marya Schalk in the representation of individuals charged with criminal offenses, Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers announce the creation of a new section to enhance its handling of such cases in this area.

The penalties and collateral consequences of DUI and other related crimes have increased substantially since 1982 and this trend continues. The important issues such as the erosion of fundamental constitutional rights under the Tennessee and United States Constitutions, such as use of sobriety check points (roadblocks), forced blood draws, mandatory blood or breath tests, traffic stops, etc., are just a few issues facing an accused and their attorney in a DUI case.

Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers offers free consultation to inform citizens of their rights in these and other matters. Call our toll free number to set up an appointment.


Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, is pleased to announce that Jerry H. Summers was picked as one of four Chattanooga attorneys selected as one of the Top 100 Mid-South Super Lawyers in Tennessee for 2011 based on recommendations from other attorneys, evaluation by the research department of Mid-South, and a blue ribbon of the candidates with other attorneys. The other three Chattanooga attorneys selected in the Top 100 were T. Maxfield Bahner and Bruce C. Bailey of the law firm of Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, and Roger W. Dickson of the law firm of Miller & Martin.

Jerry H. Summers was also recently selected as one of 1,200 attorneys nationwide to be included in every yearly edition of the "Best Lawyers in America" since its inception almost 30 years ago in both criminal law defense and personal injury plaintiff litigation.

For more information please contact the office at 735 Broad Street, Suite 800, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37402, telephone: 423-933-2738.


Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers doesn't publicize verdicts or settlements out of respect for the privacy of our clients. However, over the years we have been successful in obtaining "substantial" and "very substantial" recoveries in many areas.

Jeff Rufolo has this year settled a wrongful death and personal injury case arising out of an automobile accident for one of the largest recoveries in this area over the past few years.

Jeff, Jerry Summers and an Omaha, Nebraska, law firm (Gross & Welch) have also received a substantial settlement in the wrongful death of a forty-six year old doctor who was killed when his parked vehicle was run over by a produce truck on I-75 near Athens, Tennessee. The doctor left a widow and two teenage children.

Jerry H. Summers, in an association with a New Orleans law firm (Hermann & Hermann), last year settled a very substantial product liability case arising out of an accident wherein a worker was severely burned while working in an Athens, Tennessee, plant. As a result of Tennessee's repressive ten year statute of repose limiting injured parties from recovery for injuries sustained on a seventeen year old machine, it was necessary to file suit in Louisiana where the product was manufactured.

Jerry Summers, in an association with attorneys Chris Townley and Thomas Lindsey in Rossville, Georgia, represented sixty families of deceased loved ones whose bodies were improperly disposed of in the infamous Tri-State Crematory cases in Noble, Georgia.

Jimmy Rodgers and Jerry Summers, when not handling the labor law issues for various unions represented by Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, continue to work on wrongful death and personal injury cases involving exposure to asbestos products by workers and others. Our firm has been involved in this litigation since 1979 and continues to investigate and handle these cases in the ever changing area of the law as new defendants are found and new clients are diagnosed with asbestos related diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma. Due to the complexity of this field, Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers has been honored to be associated with many individual attorneys that have only one or a few such cases.

Jerry Summers, in association with a Tacoma, Washington, law firm (Margullis, Luedtke & Ray), settled a slip and fall case for a substantial amount when a Chattanooga lady suffered a fractured hip when she tripped on a sidewalk at a resort in that state.

In the criminal law field, Jerry Summers and Marya Schalk successfully handled an appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals wherein the sentence on remand of a Chattanooga physician was reduced after he pled guilty to serious criminal charges.

If you have any inquiry about one of the above results, please feel free to contact one of the listed attorneys. If you are an attorney, feel free to contact one of the associated law firms concerning their working relationship with Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers.

It is the firm's policy to normally have two lawyers responsible for the handling of each case in order to provide better service to the clients and to have two legal minds discuss preparation, settlement and trial strategy, which we believe is in the best interest of our clients.

Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers ENDOWMENT AND SYMPOSIUM

In 2008, Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers created an endowment at the University of Tennessee College of Law which provides financial support to a third-year student in the College's Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution to assist that person in becoming a trial attorney.

The endorsement also provides for a yearly Symposium on the right-to-trial by jury in the United States in civil and criminal cases. This year's Symposium was held on March 27, 2009 in Knoxville.

If you are interested in attending the Symposium in the future, you may contact either the Center Office at (865) 974-1477 or Micki Fox, the College of Law C.L.E. Director at (865) 974-4464. Details are also available on the Center's webpage at

The public is welcome to participate in this Symposium on the important 7th Amendment right-to-trial by jury in the United States.



Since our firm started in 1969, a major source of our personal injury cases has been from other law firms in the Chattanooga area, State of Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and other states.

Our philosophy in handling a referral is to be professional and fair in all dealings with associate counsel in the handling of each case. The division of fees that may be received is always made with the goal of being fair to both firms depending upon the relative work performed and the results achieved. While some flexibility is necessary, we have always been able to reach a satisfactory result between law firms. Therefore, we have established long term relationships with several law firms involving repeat cases.

Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers will be proud to work with your law firm to achieve a good result for your client.