Judiciary Committees Wrap Up Work for Year

In what was expected to be the last meetings of the year for the House and Senate Judiciary committees, legislators dealt with several issues of interest to lawyers. The marathon sessions this week lasted more than a combined total of 22 hours. Among the items addressed were:

• Legislation to codify an end to joint and several liability (SB 2141, HB2810) and further limit punitive damages in vicarious liability cases (SB 2637, HB 3125) were both “taken off notice” -- signifying the sponsors’ intention not to pursue passage this year.

• Legislation to codify a duty of care to trespassers (SB 2719, HB 2983) was recommended for passage.

• A bill to require payment of up to $5,000 in costs to a prevailing party in certain limited cases in which a motion to dismiss is granted (SB 2638, HB 3124) will move forward for consideration.

• Legislation to change the rate of interest on judgments (SB 2705, HB 2982) was recommended in both houses but faces an uncertain future because of differences between the two versions.

• The TBA-backed bill to revise various provisions of probate law (SB 2948, HB 3237) received a favorable recommendation.

• A bill that would have significantly impacted conservatorship proceedings (SB 2519, HB 2648) was recommended after adoption of TBA amendments to limit is impact while agreeing to study the issues further.

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
00 - 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

KATHY JOHNSON v. YOON INVESTMENTS, L.L.C. ET AL.

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

Byron K. Lindberg, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Yoon Investments, L.L.C. and Brookwood Insurance Co.

Angus Gillis, III, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Kathy Johnson.

Judge: KURTZ

The trial court found that the employee had sustained a compensable injury in October 2005 and that she was permanently and totally disabled as a result of the injury. It also found that the employee’s hospitalization in November and December 2009 was related to her work injury and ordered her employer to pay associated medical expenses. On appeal, her employer contends that the trial court erred by finding that the employee was permanently and totally disabled and that the 2009 medical expenses were related to her work injury. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


TN Court of Appeals

MICHAEL L. JOHNSON, ET AL. v. TODD FORD

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

David L. Dothard, Shelley S. Breeding, and Allison Starnes-Anglea, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Michael L. Johnson, and Tammy K. Johnson.

Randy G. Rogers, Athens, Tennessee, for the appellee, Todd Ford.

Judge: SWINEY

Michael L. Johnson and Tammy K. Johnson (“Plaintiffs”) purchased from Todd Ford (“Defendant”) real property located in Athens, Tennessee containing a house constructed by Defendant (“the House”). Shortly after purchasing the House, Plaintiffs began to experience problems with a leaking and flooding basement. Plaintiffs sued Defendant alleging, among other things, breach of contract, negligent construction, misrepresentation, and violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. Prior to trial, the Trial Court partially granted Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment finding that Defendant had violated the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. The Trial Court held, however, that whether the violation caused damages to Plaintiffs would be submitted to the jury for its determination. After a jury trial, the Trial Court entered judgment upon the jury’s verdict finding and holding, inter alia, that Defendant breached the parties’ contract, and that Plaintiffs were awarded compensatory damages of $50,000 for the breach. The Trial Court also awarded Plaintiffs their attorney’s fees and discretionary costs. Plaintiffs appeal to this Court raising issues regarding the jury’s failure to find in Plaintiffs’ favor with regard to the claims of misrepresentation, damages for Defendant’s violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, punitive damages, and rescission, among other things. We affirm.


STEPHEN MICHAEL WEST, ET AL. v. DERRICK SCHOFIELD, in his official capacity, ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen M. Kissinger and Stephen A. Ferrell, Knoxville, Tennessee, and Roger W. Dickson, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Stephen M. West.

C. Eugene Shiles, Jr., and Howell G. Clements, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Billy Ray Irick.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, William E. Young, Solicitor General, and Mark A. Hudson, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, Derrick Schofield, in his official capacity.

Judge: FARMER

Plaintiffs filed an action for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief, asserting the lethal injection protocol used to carry-out the death penalty in Tennessee violated constitutional prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment. The trial court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiffs. While the matter was pending in the Tennessee Supreme Court, the State revised the protocol. The supreme court remanded the matter for further proceedings. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the State. We affirm.


Bar Exam Results Due Out Friday

Results from the most recent Tennessee bar examination are expected to be released tomorrow (Friday). Candidates who took the exam in February should know by about noon whether they passed the test. Watch the Tennessee Bar Association's website for results


Judge, Prosecutors at Odds Over Retrials

Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood ruled yesterday that former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner had not affirmed the jury verdict in the case of Paul Jerome Johnson Jr., found guilty in the July 2008 death of an 18-month-old child. Saying he could not serve as the so-called "13th juror" required by law to affirm verdicts, Blackwood granted Johnson a new trial. If the decision stands, it likely means that new trials also will be granted for child rapist Jayson Bailey, mall shooter William Johnson and kidnapper Tallie Lee Riley. But prosecutors disagree that Baumgartner did not fulfill the legal requirement and say they are taking the case to the Court of Criminal Appeals. The News Sentinel has more


Tennessee Joins E-Book Price Fixing Suit

Tennessee has joined with 14 other states and the U.S. Justice Department to file suit against three of the nation’s largest book publishers and Apple Inc., alleging price fixing of e-books in a $100 million conspiracy. The suit was filed yesterday in Austin, Texas. Read the AG's release or more about the case in the Tennessean


6th Circuit Affirms Donald Decision

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has upheld the life sentence of a Jackson man who pleaded guilty to exploitation of minors and trafficking in child pornography. Stephen Lynn Hammonds had argued that his sentence by U.S. District Court Judge Bernice Donald was unreasonable and excessive. Writing for the appeals court, Judge Julia Gibbons said Donald did not abuse her discretion: "The district court did consider the mitigating factors in the case but found, appropriately and within its discretion, that concerns about the seriousness of the crime and the need to protect the public were paramount." Read an analysis of the case on Chattanoogan.com or download the opinion


Jury Selection Begins in Edwards Trial

Prospective jurors headed to court in North Carolina today to find out whether they'll be chosen to sit in judgment of former U.S. Sen. John Edwards. The former Democratic presidential candidate faces campaign finance charges that could send him away for as long as 30 years. Prosecutors accuse Edwards of accepting and failing to report nearly $1 million that donors funneled through intermediaries to support a lavish lifestyle for his mistress. The donors themselves face no criminal charges and observers are split over whether the Justice Department has overreached in the case. National Public Radio has more


UT Law Profs, Student Honored at Chancellor's Banquet

University of Tennessee College of Law professors Penny White and Becky Jacobs, and student Todd Skelton were honored at the 2012 UT Chancellor's Honors Banquet this week. White, who is director of the school's Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution, was named Outstanding Teacher and presented with the Jefferson Prize, which recognizes faculty who demonstrate excellence in research and creative activity. Jacobs, who is director of the college's Mediation Clinic, received the Excellence in Academic Outreach Award for her work as a civil mediator and mentor for attorneys pursuing mediator certification. Skelton, a 2L, won an award for Extraordinary Campus Leadership and Service. As president of the Graduate Student Senate, he organized the first-ever Graduate Student Town Hall and has worked to increase graduate student participation in campus governance. Read more in this week's issue of the Informant


Services Saturday for Joe Crumley

Services for former First Judicial District Attorney General Joe Crumley will be held Saturday at 4 p.m. at Dillow-Taylor Funeral Home in Jonesborough. The family will receive friends prior to the service from 2 to 4 p.m. Cremation will follow the service. Memorial donations may be made to Washington County/Johnson City Animal Shelter, 525 Sells Ave., Johnson City 37604. Crumley died April 9. Read more from his obituary


Rutledge Lawyer Dies

Jeffrey L. Davidson, 41, of Rutledge died April 3. A graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, Davidson opened a private law practice in Rutledge in 1996. A fund to help defray college costs for his five children has been established at the Citizens Bank and Trust in Rutledge. To contribute, mail donations to Davidson College Fund, Attn: Melissa Roberts, c/o Citizens Bank and Trust Co. of Grainger County, P.O. Box. 98, Rutledge 37861. Read Davidson’s obituary


Tax and Estate Attorney Sought in Knoxville

The Knoxville firm of Hodges, Doughty & Carson PLLC is seeking an associate attorney with a minimum of five years experience in estate and gift tax planning, personal income tax, business succession planning, and corporate, partnership and LLC taxation. An L.L.M. in taxation is preferred but not required. To apply, please email cover letter and resume to sbarrett@hdclaw.com or mail to P.O. Box 869, Knoxville 37901. Learn more on JobLink


Davidson County Lawyer Censured

Davidson County lawyer Aneel M. Pandey was publicly censured on April 11. Pandey self-reported to the Board of Professional Responsibility that as a party to a divorce action, he lied under oath on three occasions about events that were material to the divorce. He responded to an interrogatory untruthfully, testified in his deposition that the answer to the interrogatory was truthful, and further untruthfully testified about the subject. When confronted with conclusive evidence later in the deposition, Pandey admitted that he had been untruthful in his prior testimony. Download the BPR release


Courthouse to Host Student Art Exhibit

The Hamilton County Courthouse will host an opening reception for the Tyner Academy Student Art Exhibit "Nature from Scratch" on April 19 at 5:30 p.m. The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners and Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga invite the public to attend the free reception. RSVP by Monday to aarts@alliedartschattanooga.org or (423) 756-2787. Chattanoogan.com reported 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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