2004: Tennessee Supreme Court in Review
What were the key decisions coming out of the Tennessee Supreme Court
during 2004? And what do you need to learn from them for your
practice? A new TennBarU online course has the answers. Tennessee
Attorneys Memo Editor and TennBarU faculty member Virginia Mayo takes
you through the court year, analyzing cases dealing with torts,
workers' compensation, contracts, taxation, property, family law,
criminal law, criminal procedure, and post-conviction relief.

Today's Opinions: March 16, 2005
Volume 11 — Number 050
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.
01 New Opinion(s) from the Tennessee Supreme Court
01 New Opinion(s) from the Tennessee Supreme Court Workers' Compensation Panel
00 New Document(s) or Proposed Rule(s) from the Tennessee Supreme Court
01 New Opinion(s) from the Tennessee Court of Appeals
00 New Opinion(s) from the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals
00 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

TBA members can get the full-text versions of these opinions three ways detailed below. All methods require a TBA username and password. If you have forgotten your password or need to obtain a password, you can look it up on-line at http://www.tba.org/getpassword.mgi.

Here's how you can obtain full-text version. We recommend you download the Opinions to your computer and then open them from there. • Click the URL at end of each Opinion paragraph below. This should give you the option to download the original document. If not, you may need to right-click on the URL to get the option to save the file to your computer. • Do a key word search in the Search Link area of TBALink. This option will allow you to view and save a plain-text version of the opinion. • Browse the Opinion List area of TBALink. This option will allow you to download the original version of the opinion.

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


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ANDREW THOMAS, ET AL.
CORRECTED OPINION

Court:TSC

Attorneys:                          

Michael E. Scholl and Robert C. Brooks, Memphis, Tennessee, for the
Appellant, Andrew Thomas.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore,
Solicitor General; Alice B. Lustre, Assistant Attorney General;
William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Amy Weirich and
Jennifer Nichols, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the
Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: ANDERSON

First Paragraph:

The defendant, Andrew Thomas, was convicted of felony murder.  In
imposing a death sentence, the jury found that evidence of one
aggravating circumstance, i.e., the defendant was previously convicted
of one or more felonies whose statutory elements involved the use of
violence to the person, outweighed the evidence of mitigating
circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt.  The Court of Criminal
Appeals affirmed the conviction and the death sentence, and the case
was automatically docketed in this Court.  We entered an order
identifying three issues for oral argument and now hold as follows: 
(1) the trial court did not err in excusing a prospective juror for
cause; (2) the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on
lesser included offenses of felony murder but the error was harmless
beyond a reasonable doubt; and (3) the death sentence was not
arbitrary, excessive, 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, the Court of Criminal Appeals' judgment is
affirmed.

CORRECTED OPINION
http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TSC/thomasandrew_opn.wpd

RONNIE DOTSON  v.  RICE-CHRYSLER-PLYMOUTH- DODGE, INC., ET AL.

Court:TSC - Workers Comp Panel

Attorneys:                          

Robert R. Davies, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants,
Rice-Chrysler-Plymouth-Dodge, Inc. and the Hartford.

Louis Andrew McElroy, II, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee,
Ronnie Dotson.

Judge: DROWOTA

First Paragraph:

In this workers' compensation action, the plaintiff sought
compensation for a work-related injury which caused reflex sympathetic
dystrophy in his left arm, a scheduled member for workers'
compensation purposes.  The plaintiff contended that reflex
sympathetic dystrophy which affects only a scheduled member
nevertheless entitles a claimant to body-as-a-whole compensation
because the American Medical Association's Guides to the Evaluation of
Permanent Impairment convert reflex sympathetic dystrophy to a rating
for the body as a whole.  Alternatively, the plaintiff contended that
his condition extended beyond his arm because he was denied potential
future treatment options for other, non-work-related injuries and
because his arm's hypersensitivity and pain caused insomnia, chronic
fatigue, and a diminished ability to concentrate.  Holding that reflex
sympathetic dystrophy must always be apportioned to the body as a
whole, the trial court awarded the plaintiff permanent total
disability benefits.  Reversing the trial court, we hold that an award
for reflex sympathetic dystrophy may be limited to the compensation
for scheduled members as provided in Tennessee Code Annotated section
50-6-207(3)(A) to (D) (1999).  Further, we hold that for reflex
sympathetic dystrophy to be properly apportioned to the body as a
whole under Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-207(3)(F) (1999),
the claimant's injury must affect a portion of the body not
statutorily scheduled, affect a particular combination of members not
statutorily provided for, or cause a permanent injury to an
unscheduled portion of the body.  Having so held, we determine that
the preponderance of the evidence fails to show that the plaintiff's
condition has extended beyond his arm as a scheduled member. 
Therefore, we vacate the trial court's award of permanent total
disability benefits to the plaintiff and hold that the plaintiff's
permanent disability award is limited exclusively to 200 weeks of
benefits pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section
50-6-207(3)(A)(ii)(m) (1999).  We remand this case to the trial court
for further proceedings consistent with this opinion, as may be
necessary.

http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TSC_WCP/dotsonronnie.wpd

GREGORY FODNESS v. NEWPORT AND COCKE COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
COMMISSION, INC.
WITH DISSENTING OPINION

Court:TCA

Attorneys:                          

David B. Hamilton, Knoxville, Tennessee, for Appellant Gregory
Fodness.

Clyde A. Dunn, Newport, Tennessee, for Appellee Newport and Cocke
County Economic Development Corporation., Inc.

Judge: LEE

First Paragraph:

This case involves the interpretation of a portion of the Tennessee
Public Records Act, Tenn. Code Ann. S 10-7-503.  The issue presented
is whether the statutory exemption set forth in  Tenn. Code Ann. S
10-7-503(d)(1) is available to the Appellee which is a nonprofit joint
municipal-county economic development commission.  The trial court
granted the commission's motion for summary judgment, finding that the
exemption was applicable and the commission did not have to provide
its records to the Appellant.  We hold that the commission is entitled
to the statutory exemption, but that there is a genuine question of
material fact as to whether the commission is the functional
equivalent of a public agency. Accordingly, we vacate the judgment and
remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/fodnessgreg_opn.wpd

DISSENTING OPINION
http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/fodnessgreg_dis.wpd

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