Opinion Flash

August 25, 2004
Volume 10 — Number 164

Following this index are summaries of each case, including its name, first paragraph, author's name, and the names of attorneys for the parties of each opinion.

This Issue (IN THIS ORDER):
03 New Opinion(s) from the Tennessee Supreme Court
02 New Opinion(s) from the Tennessee Supreme Court Workers' Compensation Panel
00 New Document(s) or Proposed Rule(s) from the Tennessee Supreme Court
03 New Opinion(s) from the Tennessee Court of Appeals
00 New Opinion(s) from the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals
02 New Opinion(s) from the Tennessee Attorney General (PDF format)
00 New Judicial Ethics Opinion(s)
00 New Formal Ethics Opinion(s) from the Board of Professional Responsibility

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Howard H. Vogel
Knoxville, Tennessee
Editor-in-Chief, TBALink


JASMINE A. ALI v. ERIC N. FISHER, ET AL.

Court:TSC

Attorneys:

Jack M. Vaughn and Daniel D. Coughlin, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the
Appellant, Jasmine A. Ali.

Charles T. Herndon, IV, and Bradley E. Griffith, Johnson City,
Tennessee, for the Appellee, Thomas Scheve.

Judge: ANDERSON

First Paragraph:

We granted this appeal to determine whether an owner who negligently
entrusted his car to another may be held vicariously liable for the
driver's negligence in the operation of the car.  The trial court
submitted the case to the jury for allocation of fault on comparative
fault principles, and the jury found the owner twenty percent (20%) at
fault and the driver eighty percent (80%) at fault.  The trial court
later amended the judgment by holding that the owner-entrustor was
vicariously liable for the negligence of the driver-entrustee and thus
liable for all of the compensatory and punitive damages.  The Court of
Appeals held that the trial court erred in concluding that the
owner-entrustor was vicariously liable for the driver-entrustee's
actions and reinstated the initial judgment.  After reviewing the
record and applicable authority, we conclude that an owner-entrustor's
liability for negligent entrustment does not result in vicarious
liability for the negligence of the driver-entrustee and that the
trial court erred in holding the owner-entrustor liable for all the
damages.  We therefore affirm the Court of Appeals' judgment and
remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings consistent
with this opinion. 

http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TSC/alija.wpd
							
PATRICIA CONLEY, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF MARTHA STINSON, DECEASED v. STATE OF TENNESSEE Court:TSC Attorneys: Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; and Martha A. Campbell, Senior Counsel, for the Appellant, State of Tennessee. Gene Hallworth, Columbia, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Patricia Conley. Judge: ANDERSON First Paragraph: We granted review in this case to address three issues: (1) whether the State is a "governmental entity" under Tennessee Code Annotated section 20-1-119(g) (Supp. 2003); (2) whether the State may be liable for medical malpractice under Tennessee Code Annotated section 9-8-307(a)(1)(D) (2003), when there was no "professional/ client" relationship between the claimant and a state employee; and (3) whether the State may be liable for the "negligent care, custody, or control" of a person under Tennessee Code Annotated section 9-8-307(a)(1)(E) (2003) when it administers pre- admission screening of a nursing home patient as required by federal statute. The Claims Commission held that the claimant's action was barred by the one-year statute of limitations because the State was not a governmental entity and also that the complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The Court of Appeals reversed on the statute of limitations issue and remanded for further proceedings on the actions for medical malpractice and negligent care, custody, and control. After reviewing the record and applicable authority, we conclude: (1) that the complaint was timely filed under Tennessee Code Annotated section 20-1-119(g) because the State is a "governmental entity"; (2) that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted for medical malpractice because there was no "professional/client" relationship between a state employee and the claimant; and (3) that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted for the State's "negligent care, custody and control" when it is based on the State administered pre-admission screening of a nursing home patient as required by federal statute. We therefore affirm the Court of Appeals' judgment in part and reverse in part. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TSC/conleyp.wpd
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHRISTOPHER A. DAVIS Court:TSC Attorneys: Hershell D. Koger, Pulaski, Tennessee, and David Hornik, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Christopher A. Davis. Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Mark A. Fulks, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, District Attorney General; and Tom Thurman and Katrin Miller, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee. Judge: ANDERSON First Paragraph: The defendant, Christopher A. Davis, was convicted of two counts of premeditated first degree murder, two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, and two counts of especially aggravated robbery. The jury imposed death sentences for both counts of premeditated first degree murder after finding that evidence of three aggravating circumstances, i.e., (1) the defendant was previously convicted of one or more felonies whose statutory elements involved the use of violence to the person, (2) the murders were committed for the purpose of avoiding, interfering with, or preventing a lawful arrest of the defendant, and (3) the murders were knowingly committed, solicited, directed, or aided by the defendant while the defendant had a substantial role in committing or attempting to commit a robbery or kidnapping, outweighed evidence of mitigating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt. In addition, the trial court sentenced the defendant to concurrent 25-year sentences for the especially aggravated kidnapping convictions to run consecutively to concurrent 25-year sentences for the especially aggravated robbery convictions. After the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the convictions and the sentences, the case was automatically docketed in this Court. We entered an order specifying seven issues for oral argument, and we now hold as follows: (1) the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's verdicts; (2) the trial court did not err in refusing to disqualify the District Attorney General; (3) the trial court did not err in refusing to allow defense counsel to withdraw; (4) the death sentences were not invalid on the ground that the aggravating circumstances were not set out in the indictment; (5) the trial court did not err in allowing the prosecution to establish the "prior violent felony" aggravating circumstance by relying on an offense committed as a juvenile; (6) the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's finding of three aggravating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt and its determination that the aggravating circumstances outweighed the evidence of mitigating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt; and (7) the death sentences were not arbitrary or disproportionate. We also agree with the Court of Criminal Appeals' conclusions with respect to the remaining issues, the relevant portions of which are included in the appendix to this opinion. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TSC/davisca_opn.wpd
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHRISTOPHER A. DAVIS Court:TSC BIRCH CONCURRING AND DISSENTING OPINION http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TSC/davisca_dis.wpd
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHRISTOPHER A. DAVIS Court:TSC APPENDIX http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TSC/davisca_apx.wpd
VICTOR RIVERA v. JELD-WEN, INC. Court:TSC - Workers Comp Panel Attorneys: Richard C. Mangelsdorf, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeld-Wen, Inc. Anthony C. Maxwell, Livingston, Tennessee, for the appellee Victor Rivera. Judge: COTTRELL First Paragraph: This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. S 50-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting of findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this case, the plaintiff whose arm was amputated as a result of a work-related injury had entered into a settlement agreement with his employer. The plaintiff claims this agreement obligated his employer to pay for an expensive, state-of-the-art myoelectric prosthesis. The trial court agreed and expressly found that the provision of the myoelectric arm was within the reasonable contemplation of the parties at the time of the agreement and compelled the employer to pay for it. The Panel has concluded that the judgment of the trial court should be affirmed. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TSC_WCP/riverav.wpd
SAMUEL L. ROWE V. SVERDRUP TECHNOLOGY, INC. and TRAVELERS INSURANCE COMPANY Court:TSC - Workers Comp Panel Attorneys: Robert Durham, Cookeville, Tennessee for appellant, Sverdrup Technology, Inc. and Travelers Insurance Company. Robert S. Peters, Winchester, Tennessee, for appellee, Samuel Rowe. Judge: PAGE First Paragraph: This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50- 6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of the findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this appeal, the employer contends that the trial court erred by finding by a preponderance of the evidence that the employee's hip replacement surgery and subsequent disability were due to an injury that arose out of his employment. Specifically, the issue is whether the employee's injury resulted from a pre-existing cancerous condition of the right hip. We find no error and affirm the judgment of the trial court. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TSC_WCP/rowes.wpd
SUSAN CHARLES and JAMES CHARLES, v. RUTH LATHAM and RALPH LATHAM Court:TCA Attorneys: H. Allen Bray, Maryville, Tennessee, for Appellants. Craig L. Garrett, Maryville, Tennessee, for Appellees. Judge: FRANKS First Paragraph: In a dispute over an easement, the Trial Court awarded damages to plaintiffs for interference with use of easement, nuisance and punitive damages. On appeal, we affirm the award of compensatory damages, but vacate the award of punitive damages and remand to assess punitive damages in accordance with Hodges v. Toof & Co., 833.S.W.2d 896 (Tenn. 1992). http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/charless1.wpd
ROCKY GARNER v. PHIL BREEDEN and ASSOCIATES, ET AL. Court:TCA Attorneys: James D. R. Roberts and Janet L. Layman, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rocky Garner. John E. Quinn and Douglas B. Janney, III, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Phil Breeden and Associates, a sole proprietorship, and Phil Breeden, an individual. Judge: CAIN First Paragraph: Appellant sued Appellee for breach of contract or in the alternative for quantum meruit value of services rendered. At the conclusion of Plaintiff's proof the trial court sustained a motion for a directed verdict on behalf of Defendant as to the quantum meruit claim and further sustained that motion on a large portion of the contract claim. As to remaining portions of the contract claim the motion for a directed verdict was overruled, and Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the remaining claims without prejudice. We hold that the trial court erred in granting the motion for a directed verdict as to the contract case but correctly granted a directed verdict as to quantum meruit. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded for trial on the contract issues. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/garner_opn.wpd
JAMIE EDWARD HINES v. TERRELL LYNN SIMMS Court:TCA Attorneys: Clark Lee Shaw, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Terrell Lynn Simms. Thomas K. Bowers, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jamie Edward Hines. Judge: COTTRELL First Paragraph: This appeal involves a custody dispute triggered by a paternity action. The trial court fashioned a permanent parenting plan which named Father the primary residential parent during the school year and Mother the primary residential parent during summer vacation. Mother appeals. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/hinesj.wpd
Volunteer Parent-Drivers Transporting Students to School Sporting Events Date: August 24, 2004 Opinion Number: 04-136 http://www.tba.org/tba_files/AG/2004/OP136.pdf
Extraterritorial "Spot Zoning" under Growth Plan Date: August 24, 2004 Opinion Number: 04-137 http://www.tba.org/tba_files/AG/2004/OP137.pdf

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