Wednesday, March 7th, 2012


Bills Moving as Session End Gets Closer

With some House subcommittees announcing they will be shutting down in the next couple of weeks, the General Assembly seems to be preparing to take more definitive action on pending legislation. The TBA-prepared bill to update Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code – making changes that track the 2010 Uniform Law Commission recommendations dealing with secured transactions -- was recommended for passage by the Senate Commerce Committee, and the House Commerce Committee’s General Subcommittee this week. The bill, SB 2931 by Sen. Doug Overbey (R-Maryville ), HB 3150 by Rep. Jon Lundberg (R- Kingsport), would be effective July 1, 2013, allowing the Secretary of State to prepare for the changes. The effective date would also coincide with that in the many other states adopting the changes.

Discussions also continued with state officials regarding SB 2200/HB 2338, which would alter the law regarding termination of parental rights, and more than a dozen proposals to affect tort law are set for committee and subcommittee calendars next week. The TBA is active in trying to defeat or limit the harmful impact of many of these proposals.

Today's Opinions

Click on the category of your choice to view summaries of today’s opinions from that court, or other body. A link at the end of each case summary will let you download the full opinion in PDF format.

00 - TN Supreme Court
01 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
02 - TN Court of Appeals
01 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
00 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR
00 - TN Supreme Court - Disciplinary Orders

You can obtain full-text versions of the opinions two ways. We recommend that you download the Opinions to your computer and then open them from there. 1) 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.

TN Workers Comp Appeals


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


Jimmy W. Bilbo, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tony Wayne Wilson.

John T. Rice, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Bill Jennings individually and d/b/a B & L Construction Company.


Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, this workers’ compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. In this case, the employee alleged that he was working as a carpenter for the defendant, Wayne Neeley, when he fell from the roof of a house and seriously injured his right ankle. Neeley denied that he was the employer and also denied that he was a subcontractor for the defendant, B & L Construction, the general contractor. The trial court held that the employee was employed by Neeley and that Neeley was a subcontractor of B & L Construction. Because Neeley did not have workers’ compensation insurance, the trial court found B & L Construction liable for workers’ compensations benefits pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-113 and awarded both temporary total disability benefits and accrued medical expenses, but nothing else. On appeal, the employee contends that the trial court erred by failing to award permanent disability benefits and future medical benefits. In response, the defendant contends that the trial court erred by awarding temporary disability benefits. We hold that the trial court properly awarded temporary total benefits, but erred by failing to award permanent disability benefits and future medical benefits to the employee. The judgment is reversed in part and the case is remanded for further proceedings.

TN Court of Appeals

With Dissenting Opinion

Court: TN Court of Appeals


Michael Brandon Adams, Wartburg, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Joseph F. Whalen, Associate Solicitor General, and Lee Pope, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees.


Petitioner, who is incarcerated, was charged with possession of a cell phone and pled guilty. He filed a Writ of Certiorari after punishment was levied against him, contending that he understood his punishment would be five days of punitive segregation and a $5 fine, but the punishment meted out was suspension of visitation privileges for six months. The Trial Judge upheld the suspension and dismissed the Petition, finding that petitioner pled guilty and waived his right to appeal, and the writ was filed after the sixty day time frame had elapsed. We affirm the Judgment of the Trial Court and remand.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Stanley A. Kweller and Robert L. Jackson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Michael W. Osesek.

Mary Arline Evans and Charles R. Niewold, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Mary Anne Osesek.


Husband filed a petition to terminate or modify the amount of alimony in futuro he was obligated to pay, asserting that a post-divorce decrease in his income as well as the fact that Wife secured employment after the divorce constituted substantial and material changes in their circumstances which warranted the elimination of or a reduction in the amount of alimony. The trial court held that, while the loss of Husband’s job was not anticipated, there was not a substantial and material change of circumstances because Husband had other assets from which to continue to make the alimony payments; the court accordingly dismissed the petition and awarded Wife her counsel fees. Husband appeals the dismissal of the petition and award of attorney fees to Wife. We affirm the holding that Husband’s assets are available to satisfy his alimony obligation and the award of attorney fees to Wife. We vacate the dismissal of the petition and remand for further consideration.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Damon Wooten (at trial), Maryville, Tennessee, and J. Liddell Kirk (on appeal), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Claudia O. Draime.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Flynn, District Attorney General; and Tammy Harrington, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, Claudia O. Draime, pled guilty to theft over $60,000, a Class B felony, for an agreed Range I sentence of eight years, with the trial court to determine the manner of service of the sentence and restitution. At the sentencing hearing, the trial court denied probation and ordered the Defendant to serve her eight-year sentence in confinement. It is from that judgment that the Defendant now appeals, arguing that the trial court improperly imposed a sentence of full confinement. After a thorough review of the law and relevant authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Bell Stuns Jameson for General Sessions Post

All the name recognition, political connections and support from the legal community didn’t help former Nashville Metro Councilman Mike Jameson win the General Sessions judgeship he sought. Instead, attorney Rachel Bell, hoping to bring diversity and transparency to Davidson County’s legal system, won the Democratic primary spot yesterday and will go on to face independent Michael H. Rowan in the August general election. If elected, Bell would be only the second black female judge in Nashville. The Tennessean has the story

Binkley Wins 3-way Vote for Circuit Court

Mike Binkley, an attorney who touted celebrity endorsements during his campaign, easily led a three-way contest for the circuit court in Williamson County. But it may have been his critique of Derek Smith's lack of civil trial experience that put him over the top in yesterday's primary. Smith, a career prosecutor who was appointed to the seat in December by Gov. Bill Haslam, had sought to hold on to the seat in the three-way race with Binkley and Judy Oxford. No one qualified to run on the Democratic ticket, which means Binkley will run uncontested in August. The Tennessean reports

Results in from Shelby Co. Court Clerk, DA Elections

Ed Stanton Jr. moved a step closer to making his temporary job as Shelby County General Sessions Court clerk permanent, narrowly winning the Democratic primary with 37 percent of the vote over Sidney Chism, who received 36 percent. Five Democrats, including incumbent Otis Jackson, were on Tuesday's ballot. Jackson, indicted on charges of ordering employees to contribute to his re-election campaign, trailed with 15 percent of the vote. Stanton will face Republican primary winner Rick Rout, who prevailed over James R. Finney, and independent candidate Patricia McWright Jackson in the August general election. In the race for district attorney general, incumbent Amy Weirich, a Republican, and Carol Chumney, a Democrat, ran unopposed in the primary and will face off in August. The Commercial Appeal has the story

Judge Under Investigation Loses Primary

Hawkins County Judge James "Jay" Taylor finished third in the race for General Sessions judge yesterday. In February, Taylor declined to respond to four formal theft charges filed by the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary, and agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations executed a search warrant of his office. The victor, Todd Ross, defeated Taylor and a third nominee, Buddy Baird, with 49 percent of the vote. has the story

Robinson Easily Wins Circuit Race

Phillip Robinson, appointed Davidson County Circuit Court judge two weeks ago, won an easy victory in the Democratic primary for that position yesterday, beating attorney Stan Kweller by a near 3-to-1 spread. Gov. Bill Haslam appointed Robinson to the judgeship on Feb. 23 to fill the seat vacated by Judge Barbara Haynes. Robinson will face independent candidate John Heacock, a private attorney, in the general election. The Nashville City Paper has more

Former Rep. Inadvertently Deleted from Voting Rolls

State election officials have apologized to former congressman Lincoln Davis, blaming a "clerical error" for his being turned away from a voting station in his home county of Fentress yesterday. Davis, who lost his 4th Congressional District seat in 2010, said he was denied the right to vote in the Pall Mall community, where he has been voting since 1964. The state election coordinator explained that Davis was inadvertently deleted from the rolls in Fentress County because he is listed as eligible to vote in city elections in Pickett County, where he also owns property. Learn more in the Times Free Press

Judge's Vote Challenged Under Photo ID Law

The Tennessee Secretary of State's Office is backing up the vote of Nashville Judge Barbara Haynes, whose state identification was briefly questioned by a poll worker when she voted yesterday. The issue created confusion among members of the Senate State & Local Government Committee during a hearing this morning, when Haynes' husband Sen. Joe Haynes, D-Nashville, mentioned the incident. Responding to the question, Blake Fortenay, spokesperson for Secretary of State Tre Hargett, confirmed that a judge's ID is a valid form of state identification. The reports

ABA Foundation Names New Class of Fellows

The American Bar Foundation has named a new class of fellows, which includes 26 Tennessee lawyers. Those from Knoxville are Hon. Sharon G. Lee, Dwight E. Tarwater and John A. Walker Jr. Those from Memphis are Benjamin C. Adams Jr., John A. Bobango, Denise D. Burke, Charles E. Carpenter, Carl Q. Carter, Charlotte Knight Griffin, David Harris, David P. Jaqua, Connie Lewis Lensing, Cheryl W. Patterson and Kevin H. Smith. Those from Nashville are Cynthia Mitchell Barnett, J. Randolph Bibb Jr., Scott D. Carey, Robert E. Cooper Jr., Jacqueline B. Dixon, Aubrey B. Harwell III, Melvin Malone and Kevin Hunter Sharp. Other attorneys around the state who were inducted include Sam D. Elliott of Chattanooga, Michael Lee Forrester of Kingsport, Linda C. Warren Seely of Jackson and Cynthia Richardson Wyrick of Sevierville. Memphis lawyer Randall D. Noel serves as state chair of the Fellows in Tennessee. Learn more about the Foundation

Review of Lateral Moves Puts Tenn. in Spotlight

A national study of lateral moves among firms during the first two months of 2012 shows that two of the six firms experiencing the greatest gains had connections to Tennessee. Littler Mendelson, which tied for first place with DLA Piper, added 14 lateral hires, mostly through its merger with Memphis firm Kiesewetter Wise Kaplan Prather. Bradley Arant Boult Cummings tied Perkins Coie for third place with 11 lateral hires. The study found that three years after a merger between the Birmingham- and Nashville-based shops, Bradley Arant continues to acquire personnel throughout the southeast. No Tennessee firms made the "holding the line" or "biggest losses" lists. Read more about AM Law Daily's findings

Symposium to Feature Political and Judicial Figures

The University of Tennessee College of Law Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution and the Tennessee Journal of Law and Policy are sponsoring this year’s Summers-Wyatt Symposium on Friday in Knoxville. This year’s program, “Crisis, Coverage and Communication: Advocacy in a 24/7 News World,” will feature national figures including Tom Griscom, an assistant to former President Ronald Reagan who co-directed summits between Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev and directed Reagan’s "tear down this wall" speech; James Duff, who served as chief of staff to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist during the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial; Adam Goldberg, the lawyer who served as special associate counsel to President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal; Pamela Mackey, who represented NBA player Kobe Bryant; and Joe Cheshire, who represented members of the Duke Lacrosse team. Read more about the event


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About this publication: Today's News is a compilation of digests of news reports of interest to Tennessee lawyers compiled by TBA staff, links to digested press releases, and occasional stories about the TBA and other activities written by the TBA staff or members. Statements or opinions herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tennessee Bar Association, its officers, board or staff.

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