Retired Juvenile Court Judge Dies

Nashville area lawyer Henry Houston Hagar died Nov. 17 at the age of 87. A 1950 graduate of the YMCA School of Law, Hagar worked as a claims attorney for 34 years with USF&G and Alexander & Alexander, living in Nashville, Chattanooga, Dallas and Little Rock. He went on to serve as a juvenile and night court judge for metro Nashville for 12 years, and served as a Metro Nashville councilman from 1979 to 1989. He retired in 2004 at the age of 81. Read the full obituary.

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
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









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

RON W. ROBINSON v. BRIDGESTONE AMERICAS TIRE OPERATIONS, LLC

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

Neal Agee, Jr., Lebanon, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ron W. Robinson.

Kitty Boyte and Catherine C. Dugan, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC.

Judge: Koch

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 pursuant to Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 51. The employee injured his neck in the course of his employment in 2005. He returned to work for his pre-injury employer and settled his claim subject to the one and one-half times impairment cap. In 2009, the employer entered into a new collective bargaining agreement in which the hourly wages of all production workers were reduced. Thereafter, the employee sought reconsideration on his earlier settlement pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-6-241(d)(1)(B) (2008). The trial court held that the across-the-board wage reduction did not trigger the right to reconsideration and denied the employee’s claim. We affirm the judgment.


TN Court of Appeals

IN RE: CONSERVATORSHIP OF MAURICE M. ACREE, JR., et al., v. NANCY ACREE, et al.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Suzette Peyton, Brentwood, and George E. Copple, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Q. Acree.

C. Dewey Branstetter, Jr., and Stacey K. Skillman, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Nancy Acree, C. Dewey Branstetter, Jr., and Austin Catts.

Judge: Franks

In this action a Petition was filed and a conservator was appointed for Dr. Maurice M. Acree, Jr., and William Acree was made a party to that proceeding. Five years after a conservator was appointed, William Acree filed a "Complaint" in that action. The Trial Court determined that a complaint could not lie in that action, and treated it as a Rule 60 Motion and denied William Acree any relief. William Acree has appealed to this Court and we affirm the Trial Court's Judgment, but modify the Judgment on the basis that the record reveals plain error which should be addressed because the trusts remain active.


IN THE MATTER OF: CHRISTOPHER A. D.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Thomas F. Bloom, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Christopher A. Dorris.

David B. Lyons, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Sheila Shackleford.

Judge: Cottrell

The mother brought a petition to modify support and for contempt, alleging that the father had willfully understated his income during an earlier proceeding to modify support. The juvenile court judge found that the mother had proved her allegations and awarded her a judgment of over $26,500 for back child support as well as attorney fees of over $12,800. We hold that the statutory prohibition against retroactive modification of child support disallows the award of pre-petition support. Accordingly, we are compelled to vacate the trial court’s award of support for the time prior to the date on which the mother filed her petition to modify child support. We affirm the prospective modification and the award of child support from that date.


EDWARD HANSON v. J.C. HOBBS COMPANY, INC.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Jason G. Howell, Murray, Kentucky, for Plaintiff/Appellee Edward Hanson.

George Robert Whitfield, III, and W. Brown Hawley, II, Paris, Tennessee, for Defendant/Appellant J.C. Hobbs Company, Inc.

Judge: Kirby

This case arises out of the sale of a tractor. The plaintiff purchaser bought a tractor online from the defendant company, which specializes in the sale of tractors. The company advertised the tractor as having many fewer hours of use than it actually had. After taking possession of the tractor and learning the tractor’s true condition, the purchaser filed this lawsuit against the company, alleging breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation, rescission, and violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. After a bench trial, the trial court held in favor of the purchaser, and awarded compensatory damages and attorney fees. The company now appeals, arguing inter alia that the evidence does not support an award of compensatory damages under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. We affirm.


TAMALA TEAGUE, as successor personal representative of the ESTATE OF LOLA LEE DUGGAN v. GARNETTE KIDD, ET. AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

William J. Brown, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellants, Garnette Kidd and William Kidd.

B. Prince Miller, Jr., Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tamala Teague, as successor personal representative of the Estate of Lola Lee Duggan.

Judge: McClarty

This appeal involves a claim filed by the Administrator of Decedent’s estate to recover monetary assets that were misappropriated from Decedent prior to her death. Administrator alleged that the Kidds depleted Decedent’s monetary assets, thereby breaching a confidential relationship they held with her. The trial court agreed and issued a judgment against the Kidds with prejudgment interest. We affirm the judgment against Wife as modified but reverse the judgment against Husband. The case is remanded.


STONEBRIDGE LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, GWENDOLYN R. WILLIAMS v. ONZIE O. HORNE, III

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Edricke L. Peyton, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Onzie O. Horne, III.

M. Andrew Pippinger and Dennis P. Hawkins, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Stonebridge Life Insurance Company.

David F. Kustoff, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Gwendolyn R. Williams.

Judge: Stafford

This is an interpleader action resulting from competing claims to the proceeds of a life insurance policy. The trial court granted summary judgment to the Insured’s mother, finding that, because she was the only named beneficiary of the policy, she was entitled to the proceeds. Insured’s husband appeals, arguing that, because Insured’s mother was only named as a contingent beneficiary, the default provisions of the policy remained in effect, resulting in him being the primary beneficiary of the policy. Husband also appeals the trial court’s dismissal of his bad faith claim against the insurer. We affirm the dismissal of the bad faith claim, but conclude that the contract at issue is ambiguous and the issue in this case is not properly decided on summary judgment. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. JIMMY JACKSON

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Emma Rae Tennent and Jason Gichner (on appeal) and Chad Hindman and Gary Tamkin (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jimmy Jackson.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Bret Gunn, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: Ogle

A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Jimmy Jackson, of one count of selling .5 grams or more of cocaine within a drug-free school zone and one count of delivering .5 grams or more of cocaine within a drug-free school zone, Class B felonies. The trial court merged the convictions and sentenced him as a Range II offender to fourteen years. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by ruling he could not question a State’s witness about conduct involving dishonesty pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Evidence 608(b) and that the trial court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on facilitation. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the trial court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on facilitation and that the error was not harmless. Therefore, the appellant’s convictions are reversed, and the case is remanded to the trial court for a new trial.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHARLES E. LOWE-KELLEY

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Patrick T. McNally, Nashville, Tennessee (on remand); Robert C. Richardson, Jr. (at motion for new trial and on appeal); and Mark K. Green (at trial), Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Charles E. Lowe-Kelley.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; T. Michel Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Kimberly L. Cooper, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: Witt

A Maury County Circuit Court jury convicted the defendant, Charles E. Lowe-Kelley, of two counts of premeditated murder, two counts of felony murder, and nine counts of attempted first degree murder. At sentencing, the trial court imposed consecutive sentences of life with the possibility of parole for each premeditated murder conviction, merged the felony murder convictions into the premeditated murder convictions, and imposed concurrent sentences of 15 years’ incarceration for each attempted first degree murder conviction to be served concurrently with the two life sentences. In addition to contesting the sufficiency of the evidence on appeal, the defendant contends that the trial court erred by (1) denying his motion for a continuance, (2) allowing a juror to remain on the jury who expressed an opinion about the case, (3) admitting evidence without establishing a proper chain of custody, (4) admitting a tape-recorded conversation between the defendant and a separately-tried co- defendant, and (5) imposing consecutive sentences. On initial review, we concluded that all issues except the sufficiency of the evidence and sentencing were waived because the defendant failed to file a timely motion for new trial. See State v. Charles E. Lowe-Kelley, No. M2010-00500-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Feb. 14, 2011). The petitioner applied for permission to appeal this court’s decision to the Tennessee Supreme Court pursuant to Rule 11 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure. On August 28, 2012, the supreme court ruled that the defendant’s motion for new trial was timely and that the trial court properly allowed amendments to the motion for new trial and remanded the case to this court for consideration of the defendant’s appellate issues. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Cobbins Asks Judge to Dismiss Lawyer in Christian Newsom Retrial

Letalvis Cobbins, on retrial for the 2007 Christian Newsom torture-slayings, asked Judge Walter Kurtz to assign him a new court-appointed attorney, WATE Knoxville reports. Cobbins claimed his lawyer Kim Parton has not been representing him well or taking time to explain matters to him. Parton explained that she was prepared to go forward as his counsel and make an effort to keep Cobbins informed. Judge Kurtz denied the motion.


Public Meeting Prayer Debate Continues

Recent lawsuits from around the country are actively challenging prayers offered before public meetings, News Channel 5 reports. In Tennessee, a complaint has been filed against such prayers in Hamilton County, urging that local officials adopt a moment of silence instead. Lawyers on both sides of the debate say there is a new complaint almost weekly, though they don't always end up in court. Some lawyers and lawmakers believe it's only a matter of time before the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in to resolve the differences. The court has previously declined to take up the issue, but lawyers in a New York case plan to ask the justices to revisit it.


Legal Arts Group Partners with Belmont

The Nashville Business Journal reported today that the Arts & Business Council, a nonprofit serving Nashville's arts community, and its Volunteer Lawyers & Professionals for the Arts (VLPA) program, has partnered with Belmont University to be a nonprofit-in-residence. As part of the arrangement, the council will physically move its offices to the university campus. Casey Summar, director of the VLPA, said the partnership will provide marketing, development and technological support that have been a challenge for the small organization.


Police Bust Gang Members in “Operation Gangsgiving”

The Chattanooga Police Department conducted a gang member roundup Monday and Tuesday termed “Operation Gangsgiving,” the Chattanoogan reports. It included a gang member warrant operation, traffic enforcement and a drug buy/bust operation. There were a total of 64 charges. Of the 34 arrests, 17 were identified as gang members.


Court Rules on Contract Renewal

In a unanimous decision, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a contract between parties that share provisions similar to a previous contract does not necessarily constitute a renewal of the earlier agreement. The Chattanoogan reports the opinion was based on the case of BSG LLC versus Check Velocity in which BSG referred Weight Watchers to Check Velocity. Weight Watchers and Check Velocity entered into an “Electronic Check Recovery Agreement” during which Check Velocity paid BSG fee residuals. BSG filed suit against Check Velocity when the contract ended and Check Velocity and Weight Watchers entered into another, similar agreement but did not continue to pay BSG fee residuals. The court ruled in favor of Check Velcocity stating the new agreement was not a renewal of the first agreement.


Tennessee Supreme Court Building Marks 75th Anniversary

In celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Tennessee Supreme Court building in Nashville, original handwritten versions of the three state constitutions will be on public display for the first time Dec. 6-8 and 10. The celebration also includes the opening of the Tennessee Judiciary Museum and a Judicial Family Reunion of all employees who have worked in the building on Dec. 5. Constructed in 1937, the building houses offices for the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and Criminal Court of Appeals for the Middle Section of Tennessee. Read more at TNCourts.gov.


Davidson County Lawyer Disbarred

Bobby Dean Davis of Nashville was disbarred on Nov. 20 by the Tennessee Supreme Court for abandoning his practice. The court also ordered him to provide restitution to affected clients. In four cases, clients paid Davis fees for which little or no legal work was performed. In addition, in one of the cases, Davis’ failure to communicate with his client resulted in a default judgment being entered against the client. Davis did not respond to the petition for discipline and did not appear for the final hearing, despite having notice of both. Download the BPR notice.


Memphis Lawyer Censured

Valeria Corder of Memphis was publically censured by the Tennessee Supreme Court on Nov. 20. The court found that Corder did not promptly withdraw from representation after her client testified falsely at a deposition, and that at a subsequent hearing, Corder did not correct the deposition testimony because the hearing was unexpectedly adjourned prior to completion. Download the BPR notice.


15 Lawyers Reinstated After Administrative Suspension

Fifteen Tennessee-licensed lawyers have been reinstated after being administratively suspended for failure to meet 2012 CLE requirements, file the 2010 annual registration fee and file the annual registration fee and/or required IOLTA statement in 2012. See the updated lists at the links above.


 
 

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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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