3 Special Justices Step Down in Judicial Election Case

Three of the five justices appointed to a Special Supreme Court have stepped down from the body, following a motion filed by John Jay Hooker questioning their impartiality. William M. Barker, George H. Brown Jr. and Robert L. Echols filed the order of recusal today, the Nashville Post reports. Gov. Bill Haslam appointed the trio, along with Special Justice Andree S. Blumstein and Special Justice W. Morris Kizer, to hear an appeal of Hooker’s suit challenging the constitutionality of Tennessee’s method of selecting and retaining appellate court judges. All five members of the Tennessee Supreme Court had earlier recused themselves from hearing the case.

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
00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
05 - TN Court of Appeals
02 - 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

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TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Gregory E. Bennett, Seymour, Tennessee, for the appellant, Anthony P.D.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Mary Byrd Ferrara, Assistant Attorney General for the appellee, State of Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.


The State of Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) filed a petition seeking to terminate the parental rights of Anthony P.D. (“Father”) to the minor 1 child Chyna L.M.D. (“the Child”). After a trial, the Trial Court entered its judgment finding and holding that clear and convincing evidence of grounds existed to terminate Father’s parental rights pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(1) and § 36-1-102(1)(A)(iv), and that the termination was in the Child’s best interest. Father appeals to this Court. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Deborah Truby Riordan, Little Rock, Arkansas; Cameron C. Jehl and Carey L. Acerra, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Anna Parker, Administrator of the Estate of Wanda Faye Dobbs, deceased, and on behalf of the wrongful death beneficiaries of Wanda Faye Dobbs.

Heidi A. Barcus, Jennifer Pearson Taylor, and Ian P. Hennessey, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Portland Nursing and Rehab Center, Inc. D/b/a Highland Manor Nursing & Rehab Center, Sunbelt Health Care Centers, Inc. A/k/a Adventist Care Centers, Adventist Health System Sunbelt Healthcare Corporation, and Adventist Health System/Sunbelt, Inc.


In this action, the plaintiff has attempted to assert claims for ordinary negligence and medical malpractice against nursing home defendants by filing two separate actions and then seeking to consolidate the cases or to amend the complaint to assert both types of claims in one case. The first complaint filed only asserted claims for ordinary negligence against the nursing home defendants. Sixty days after having given the statutory notice to the healthcare providers of her intent to file medical malpractice claims, the plaintiff commenced a separate action against the same nursing home defendants and an additional defendant, a physician who treated the nursing home patient, by filing a complaint for medical malpractice. Upon motions of the nursing home defendants, the trial court refused to consolidate the cases, dismissed the medical malpractice claims against the nursing home defendants upon the ground of a prior suit pending, and denied the plaintiff’s motion to amend the complaint in the first case to add claims for medical malpractice against the nursing home defendants. Having determined that the plaintiff complied with Tennessee Code Annotated § 29-26- 121(a) by giving the requisite 60 days notice to the medical providers and that the statute of limitations had not run, we have concluded that the trial court erred in denying the plaintiff’s Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 15.01 motion to amend the complaint. Accordingly, we reverse and remand with instructions to grant the plaintiff’s motion to amend the complaint for ordinary negligence against the nursing home defendants thus allowing the plaintiff to assert medical malpractice claims against the nursing home defendants and for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


John S. Little, Hailey H. David, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellants, James Paul Ledbetter and wife, Charlene Ledbetter

Russell E. Reviere, Nathan E. Shelby, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Linda Lipscomb


After purchasing a home, the plaintiffs sued the sellers’ real estate agent under the Tennessee Residential Property Disclosure Act for failing to disclose that work was done on the foundation of the home prior to the purchase. The trial court granted summary judgment to the real estate agent, finding that she had no knowledge of adverse facts as defined by the Tennessee Residential Property Disclosure Act. The plaintiffs appeal. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Norman C. Loggins, Pro se

Mark R. Glover, Kristine L. Roberts and Steven W. King, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, First Tennessee Bank, N.A.


The trial court entered an order of involuntary dismissal pursuant to Rule 41.02(2) in this action for malicious prosecution. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Lenal Anderson, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, Jeffery Smith and Brenda K. Smith

Jill Steinberg, John R. Branson, Mason W. Wilson, Ormonde B. DeAllaume, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Methodist Healthcare - Memphis Hospitals


This lawsuit originated as a medical malpractice action that was filed against the Hospital and other defendants in 2000. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Hospital on the medical malpractice claim in 2003 because Plaintiffs had failed to come forward with competent testimony from a medical doctor regarding causation. Thereafter, Plaintiffs filed a supplemental complaint to allege that the Hospital had tortiously interfered with the Plaintiffs’ contract with a nurse expert witness. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Hospital on this claim in 2010. Plaintiffs appealed. We affirm the trial court’s order granting summary judgment on the issue of tortious interference with contract, but we reverse the trial court’s order granting summary judgment on the medical malpractice claim and remand for further proceedings.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Nicholas W. Spangler, Assistant Attorney General; James Bruce Dunn, District Attorney General; and Greg Eshbaugh, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Bryan E. Delius (at trial), and Bryce W. McKenzie, Sevierville, Tennessee (on appeal), for the appellee, David Dwayne Bell.


The defendant was indicted on one count of driving under the influence (DUI) and one alternative count of driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. Prior to trial, the defendant filed a motion to suppress certain evidence obtained by the police on the grounds that the defendant was arrested without probable cause. The trial judge granted this motion and ultimately dismissed both counts. On appeal, the State argues that the trial court erred by determining that the arresting officer did not have probable cause. After reviewing the record and the arguments of the parties, we conclude that the trial court committed no error and affirm its judgment accordingly.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Bradley A. MacLean and Joanne L. Diamond, Assistant Post-Conviction Defenders, for the appellant, Steven James Rollins.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General and Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; H. Greeley Wells, District Attorney General; and Barry P. Staubus, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The Petitioner, Steven James Rollins, filed a petition seeking post-conviction relief from his convictions of first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, and especially aggravated robbery. The post-conviction court denied Petitioner relief on all grounds related to the guilt phase of the trial but granted a new sentencing hearing on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. The State is not challenging the grant of a new sentencing hearing. The Petitioner appeals the post-conviction court’s ruling denying relief as to the guilt phase of the trial. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that a biased juror served on his jury, that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial attorneys failed to voir dire potential jurors properly, and that his mental retardation exempts him from the death penalty. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the Petitioner was denied his constitutional rights to a fair and impartial jury and that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. Therefore, the Petitioner’s convictions are reversed, and the case is remanded to the trial court for a new trial.

TBA Announces Civility Initiative Events

The TBA will hold civility initiative events in Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville over the next several months, beginning with a Memphis program on Sept. 18 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. The program, sponsored by the TBA and the law school, will focus on civility in the public square, where policy debates -- especially those with cross-cultural implications -- can quickly become contentious. It will use the current effort to consolidate city and county schools in Memphis as a case study in how to bring civility into a divisive debate. The second forum, set for Nashville on Oct. 16, will focus on civility in interacting with the courts, as well as issues affecting the access to and delivery of justice. The final forum will be held in Knoxville on Feb. 21. It will focus on civility and effective governance, using the model emulated by former U.S. Senator and Ambassador to Japan Howard H. Baker Jr. The TBA's Balancing Civility and Free Expression Initiative is designed to encourage a public conversation about the tensions between civility and free speech, the state of our public square and the challenges of maintaining civil discourse in a democracy.

DA Paul Phillips Retires After 33 Years

After serving the 8th Judicial District for more than 33 years, District Attorney General Paul Phillips is retiring from the post, WATE reports. "I think his legacy will be that he helped the children of these counties," said his friend, Charles Herman.

Nathan Pride To Take Oath Next Week

The Oath of Office ceremony for Nathan B. Pride, newly elected judge for the 26th Judicial District, Division III, of the Circuit Court will be Tuesday at 10 a.m. The event, which is open to the public, will be at the J. Alex Leech Criminal Justice Complex in Jackson.

TBA Closed for Labor Day

The Tennessee Bar Association will be closed on Monday for the Labor Day holiday. The office will reopen on Tuesday at 8 a.m. As always, our website has plenty of continuing legal education options and other information available to you 24/7.

Portland Judge Steps Down to Focus on State House Race

Portland City Judge Steven Glaser has stepped down from the post to focus on his race against William Lamberth for the 44th District state House seat, the Tennessean reports. To fill the position, the Portland City Council has appointed Jane Wheatcraft as interim city judge. "I am not prohibited by law from seeking a state office while holding a municipal post, but I would like to avoid any appearance of impropriety which might arise,” Glaser wrote in an Aug. 6 letter.

Veteran Memphis Attorney Dies at 95

Longtime Memphis attorney and civic leader Roane Waring Jr. died Tuesday (Aug. 28) at Methodist University Hospital. He was 95. A Memphis native, Mr. Waring earned his law degree from the University of Virginia after serving as a captain of the 24th Infantry during World War II. He practiced law for more than 50 years in Memphis and served in a variety of civic organizations, including the Memphis Urban League, Health and Welfare Planning Council, Family Service of Memphis, Junior Chamber of Commerce, Military Order of World Wars, Les Passes Treatment Center, and the vestry of Grace St. Luke's Episcopal Church, the Commercial Appeal reports. He was also a past president of the Memphis Bar Association and a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. The family will receive friends at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. Edward Chapel at Trezevant Manor with services at 11 a.m. A reception will follow.

Services Set for LAET Attorney

Laura Rule, who managed the Blount County office of Legal Aid of East Tennessee, died this morning (Aug. 31). She was 65. Ms. Rule was a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, where she was a member of the nationally ranked Labor Law Moot Court Team. After completing a judicial clerkship for the Hon. Samuel L. Lewis on the Tennessee Court of Appeals, she became an associate at Reid & Priest in Manhattan. In 1993, she returned to Tennessee to work with the Blount County Public Defender. She joined Legal Aid in 2001. The family will receive friends from 3 to 5 p.m. on Monday at McCammon-Ammons-Click Funeral Home, 220 W. Broadway Ave. in Maryville. The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, 858 Louisville Road in Alcoa. Burial will follow at Grandview Cemetary, 2304 Tuckaleechee Pike in Maryville. LAET’s Knoxville and Maryville offices will be closed on Tuesday. Memorial donations may be made to the LAET Blount County Office, 307 Ellis Ave., Maryville, TN 37801.


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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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