Privileged Information Bill Wins Senate OK

The Senate gave final approval on Tuesday to legislation that would create a single standard for the treatment of privileged information submitted to all federal agencies that supervise banks and other financial institutions. The legislation, supported by the American Bar Association and the Tennessee Bar Association, clarifies and provides consistent regulation for privileged information submitted to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and across all federal banking agencies. Tennessee Senator Bob Corker is a cosponsor of the measure, which President Obama is expected to sign into law. 

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
06 - 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


Jason Mitchell Chaffin and Nathaniel Mills Colburn, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Holloway’s, Inc., Rick Holloway, and Jennifer Holloway.

Stacy S. Neisler, Spring Hill, Tennessee, for the appellee, Brooke Buttrey.


A homeowner sued builders for the defective construction of a house, alleging breach of contract, intentional misrepresentations, and violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. The trial court dismissed the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act claims, but found the builders liable for intentional misrepresentations and breach of the contract by failing to build the house in a workmanlike manner. The trial court awarded the homeowner the full amount she paid to have the house built as well as her attorney’s fees. The builders appealed, claiming the evidence did not support the amount of damages awarded, the evidence did not support the court’s finding of intentional misrepresentation, and the homeowner was not entitled to attorney’s fees. We modify the damages awarded to the homeowner to conform to the evidence presented. We reverse the court’s award of attorney’s fees, and we reverse the court’s finding that the builders intentionally misrepresented material facts.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Thomas F. Bloom, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Thomas Grigsby, and wife, Symiria Grigsby.

Michael D. Cox, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellees, W. Arlen Harris Sr., and wife, Janice Harris.


The parties, owners of adjoining rural property in Hickman County who shared a single driveway that was used as access to their respective properties, filed competing pleadings to establish the common boundary line and to quiet title. On the day of trial, the parties announced their agreement to settle the dispute; the agreement was read in open court, counsel for both parties acknowledged their client’s consent to the settlement as read, and a diagram of the new boundary line was made an exhibit to the transcript of the evidence. The court approved the parties’s settlement in open court; however, before the judgment could be entered, Plaintiffs’ withdrew their consent to the settlement. Over Plaintiffs’ objections, the trial court entered judgment based upon the settlement announced in open court. Plaintiffs filed a Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 60.02 motion to set aside the judgment. The trial court denied the motion. In this appeal, Plaintiffs contend the trial court abused its discretion in failing to allow Plaintiffs’ to withdraw from the agreement or, alternatively, in failing to conduct a hearing on the issue of whether or not Plaintiffs were bound by the agreement. Finding no error, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Gloria Sesay, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, William E. Young, Solicitor General, and Lindsey O. Appiah, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce.

Mark A. Baugh, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Direct General Insurance.


This appeal arises from the denial of Plaintiff/Appellant’s claim for unemployment compensation benefits. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Michael C. Skouteris and Donnie Allen Snow, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Plaintiff/Appellant Karim Skaan

John W. Campbell, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Defendant/Appellee Federal Express Corporation

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves a claim of retaliatory discharge. The plaintiff was employed by the defendant shipping company, working in a job position that required physical labor. The plaintiff seriously injured his back in the course of his employment. As a result, he underwent surgery and took an extended leave of absence. After his leave of absence, the plaintiff returned to his former position with no restrictions. A month later, he suffered another back injury that necessitated another leave of absence. Pursuant to its medical leave policy, the defendant company terminated the plaintiff’s employment. Eight months after his employment was terminated, the plaintiff filed this lawsuit, alleging that he was discharged in retaliation for his workers’ compensation claim. The plaintiff’s employment contract included a contractual six-month limitations period. The defendant company filed a motion for summary judgment based on the six-month contractual limitations period, and also asserting that it was entitled to judgment on the merits based on the undisputed facts. The trial court declined to grant the company’s motion for summary judgment based on the six-month limitation period, but it granted summary judgment in favor of the company on the merits. The plaintiff now appeals. We reverse in part but affirm the trial court’s grant of summary judgment on a different basis than that upon which the trial court relied, holding that the plaintiff employee’s lawsuit is time-barred under the contractual limitations period in the plaintiff’s employment contract.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Jonathan Lynn Miley and Fannie Jordan Harris, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, LaDonna Knott.

Danny J. Baxter, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Lawrence Taylor.


Mother of two children appeals the trial court’s finding of a material change of circumstances and modification of the parenting plan; Mother also appeals the requirement that she reimburse Father for certain costs incurred. Finding no error, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Peggy R. Smith, White Bluff, Tennessee, for the appellant, Candace H.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Aaron E. Winter, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee, Department of Children’s Services.


Mother of two children appeals an order terminating her parental rights. Both children were taken into Department of Children’s Services custody after they tested positive for cocaine. The trial court found several grounds for termination and determined that termination is in the children’s best interests. Mother contends the trial court erred in finding clear and convincing evidence that termination of her rights is in the best interest of the children. Finding no error, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


William H. Stover, Nashville, Tennessee, (on appeal), and Curtis Bowe, III, Chattanooga, Tennessee, (at trial), for the appellant, Montez Davis.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, District Attorney General, Neal Pinkston, Assistant District Attorney General; and Cameron Williams, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Hamilton County Jury convicted Defendant, Montez Davis, of second-degree murder, reckless endangerment, and unlawful possession of a weapon. He received sentences of twenty-one years for second degree murder, one year for reckless endangerment, and one year for unlawful possession of a weapon, to be served concurrently for an effective twentyone- year sentence in confinement. On appeal, Defendant argues: (1) that the trial court erred in denying the motion to suppress his statement; (2) that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for second degree murder; and (3) that the trial court improperly sentenced him. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Donna Orr Hargrove, District Public Defender; and William J. Harold, Assistant District Public Defender, for the appellant, Winston C. McClain.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Assistant Attorney General; Charles Frank Crawford, Jr., District Attorney General; and Weakley E. Bernard, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Winston C. McClain, appeals the sentencing decision of the Marshall County Circuit Court. After entering an open plea agreement, and following merger, the defendant stands convicted of: (1) sale of less than .5 grams of a Schedule II controlled substance, a Class C felony; (2) possession with intent to sell .5 grams or more of a Schedule II controlled substance, a Class B felony; (3) simple possession of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor; (4) unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor; (5) evading arrest, a Class A misdemeanor; and (6) resisting arrest, a Class B misdemeanor. Following a sentencing hearing, the defendant was sentenced to an effective term of twelve years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he contends that the sentence is excessive and contrary to law. Following review, we affirm the sentence as imposed.

Today's News

Attorneys Request Consolidation of Meningitis Lawsuits

At least 50 lawsuits in nine states have been filed against the New England Compounding Center, (NECC) the Massachusetts pharmacy that supplied tainted steroid injections resulting in more than 500 illnesses and 37 deaths from fungal meningitis. To streamline the process, attorneys on both sides are asking for multidistrict legislation in which a single judge will preside over the pretrial and discovery phases for all of the federal lawsuits, but the each suit would eventually be returned to judges in their original district for trial. The Jackson Sun has the story.

Percentage of Women Associates, Partners Decrease

Although the number of women attorneys and doctors has risen significantly within the last 40 years, the percentage of female associates in law firms has fallen slightly for the third year in a row, according to the NALP. The ABA Journal reports that women make up 40.05 percent of associates, an incremental but steady decrease from 45.66 percent in 2009. The percentage of women partners decreased from 19.54 percent in 2011 to 19.91 percent in 2012. Minority women are the most dramatically underrepresented group at the partner level, comprising just 2.16 percent of law firm partners in 2012.

Knox County Officials Resign Amid Misconduct Investigation

Knox County Trustee John Duncan III said he has accepted the resignations of his Chief of Staff Josh Burnett and Delinquent Tax Attorney Chad Tindell after both entered guilty please to facilitation of official misconduct, a “Class A” misdemeanor. The decision follows an investigation into bonuses that Duncan gave himself and six other employees in 2010 and 2011 for online courses they did not complete. Tindell and Burnett’s attorneys have applied for judicial diversion, and will be sentenced in the upcoming months. WATE News Channel 6 has the story.

Miss. Lobby Firm to Open Nashville Office

Mississippi-based government relations and lobbying firm Capitol Resources is opening an office in Nashville, the Nashville Post reports. Established in 2001, the firm has a strong foothold in the South with offices in Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, and Washington D.C. Former Tennessee Republican Party Executive Director Adam Nickas has been hired to oversee operations.

City Judges Allege Exclusion from Charter Revision

Chattanooga City Judge Sherry Paty said she and Judge Russell Bean were left out of the loop by city officials during the process of revising a section of the city charter on the city court, the Chattanoogan reports. The section will be altered significantly since the city judges no longer have “Sessions Court jurisdiction,” according to city attorney Mike McMahan . He said the judges were asked for input, but they did not respond.

U.S. Law Firm Reviews Ukrainian Trial

The U.S. law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom has found that former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko may have been unfairly imprisoned before her conviction and faced other rights violations, but that there was no proven evidence of political motivation behind Tymoshenko’s arrest on charges of abuse of office. WRCP Chattanooga Channel 3 reports that the firm had been commissioned by the Ukrainian Justice Ministry to look into allegations that Tymoshenko was prosecuted for political reasons.

KBA Elects New YLD Officers

The Knoxville Bar Association Young Lawyer Division elected 2013 officers yesterday at the Barristers’ Annual Meeting. Katrina Atchley Arbogast of Lewis, King, Krieg & Waldrop became president. Others elected include: Vice President James (Jay) P. Moneyhin Jr., Secretary/Treasurer Baily Perry Bwowers and Members-At-Large Melissa C. Reinders and Matt W. Sherrod.

Judge to Decide on Christian Newsom Retrials

Judge Walter Kurtz heard motions today on whether Christian Newsom murder defendants LaMaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins and George Thomas will get new trials as granted by recused Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood, WATE Knoxville News Channel 6 reports. Vanessa Coleman, the fourth defendant in the case, was granted a new trial late last moth and was found guilty of 13 of 17 counts. Judge Kurtz said the motions for re-trial would be decided by mid-January by written order.

AWA to Honor Memphis Judge

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Paulette Delk will receive the Marion Griffin-Frances Loring Award for outstanding achievement in the legal profession at the Association for Women Attorneys’ annual banquet. The event will be held on Jan. 17 and will include a silent auction, cocktail reception, dinner and program. The Memphis Daily News has more.


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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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