Gov. Haslam, 2 Former Governors Headline Civility Forum

Gov. Bill Haslam will be joined by former governors Phil Bredesen and Don Sundquist to headline a public forum on civility and effective governance sponsored by the TBA on Feb. 21, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in Knoxville. The event, the third in a series of forums held across the state, will explore how issues of civility play out in the political and public policy arena by focusing on the service of former U.S. Senator and Ambassador Howard H. Baker Jr. Memphis lawyer Bill Haltom, who is writing a book about Baker, will moderate the discussion. The forum will take place in the Toyota Auditorium of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee. The Baker Center, the University of Tennessee College of Law and the First Amendment Center are co-sponsors of the program, which is made possible by a grant from the American Bar Association Division for Public Education and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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.

01 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
04 - 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 Supreme Court


Court: TN Supreme Court

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


James Alvin Rose, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Anthony W.

G. Avery Mott, Nashville, Tennessee, guardian ad litem for Anthony R.


The trial court terminated Father’s parental rights to his son on the ground that Father engaged in conduct prior to incarceration exhibiting a wanton disregard for the child’s welfare. On appeal, Father contends that the petition to terminate parental rights did not allege wanton disregard as a ground upon which termination was sought. Because we conclude that the petitioner did not plead wanton disregard as a ground for termination, we reverse the termination of Father’s parental rights based upon that ground.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


R. Sadler Bailey, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, Holly Castle and Jana Clark.

Martin Zummach, Southhaven, Mississippi, for the appellee, Horne & Wells, PLLC.


This case involves a post-trial dispute between one party to a personal injury case and their former counsel. After a jury verdict was entered in favor of Appellants, their former law firm filed an attorney lien and a motion to recover its attorney fees in the trial court. Appellants asserted that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to consider the former firm’s motion. The trial court disagreed and awarded the former firm its full requested fee. Appellants appeal both the award of attorney fees to its former law firm, and also the trial court’s denial of Appellants’ request to release funds held by the clerk. We conclude that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to consider the post-trial dispute and reverse the award of attorneys fees in this case. However, we affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion to release funds. Reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


William W. Burton, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Thomas E. Holub, Jr.

G. Sumner R. Bouldin, Jr., Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellee, Watauga Title Company of Rutherford County.

John A. Barney, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellees, First Horizon Home Loan Corporation and Metlife Home Loans.


The trial court found in favor of the plaintiff on claims that a mortgage company and a title company erroneously encumbered a tract of his property. On appeal, the plaintiff asserts that the trial court erred in declining to award more than nominal damages. Because there is no appellate record for this court to review on the issue of damages, we affirm the decision of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Eugene A. Laurenzi and Lesley Cook, Memphis, Tennessee, and A. Wilson Wages, Millington, Tennessee, for the appellants, Diane West, Jammie Heags-Johnson, and Charles Garland, Individually and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated.

John I. Houseal, Jr. and Don L. Hearn, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, Shelby County Healthcare Corp., d/b/a Regional Medical Center at Memphis.


This is an appeal from the trial court’s denial of Appellants’ motion to quash Appellee’s hospital liens, which were filed pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 29-22-101 et seq. In each Appellant’s case, the hospital filed a lien and then recovered adjusted amounts for services rendered pursuant to the hospital’s agreements with the Appellant’s respective insurance providers. Despite having received payment, the hospital argues that it may return these adjusted payments to the insurance provider and may, instead, seek to recover its full, unadjusted bill from the Appellants’ third-party tortfeasors by foreclosing its liens. We conclude that: (1) a lien, under the HLA, presupposes the existence of a debt; (2) Appellants are third-party beneficiaries of their respective insurer’s service contract with the Appellee hospital; (3) having chosen to accept a price certain for services as “payment in full” and having, in fact, accepted payment from Appellants’ insurance providers, the underlying debt is extinguished; (4) in the absence of an underlying debt, the hospital may not maintain its lien; (5) the right to subrogate belongs to the insurance provider and a hospital lien does not create a subrogation right in the hospital. Reversed and remanded.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Rocky Joe Houston, Ten Mile, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; Russell Johnson, District Attorney General; and Kenneth F. Irvine, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The defendant, Rocky Joe Houston, was convicted on April 1, 2010, of reckless endangerment, a Class A misdemeanor, and evading arrest, a Class E felony, for which he was sentenced, respectively, to eleven months, twenty-nine days and one year, as a standard offender. In his notice of appeal, he asserted that the trial court erred in denying the judgment of acquittal and asked that this court order the lawyer in his 2008 trial to return the sum of $65,000, which was a portion of the amount the defendant asserts he paid to the lawyer. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Garth Click (on appeal), and Anne Kroeger (at hearing), Assistant Public Defender, Springfield, Tennessee, for the appellant, Roy L. McAlister.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; John W. Carney, District Attorney General; and Jason White, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Roy L. McAlister (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated statutory rape and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the Defendant was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to an effective sentence of three years, to be suspended to supervised probation after service of 219 days in confinement. Upon the filing of a probation violation warrant, the Defendant was taken into custody, and a probation violation hearing was held. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered him to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement. The Defendant appealed the trial court’s ruling. Based upon the record before us, we are compelled to vacate the judgment of the trial court and remand this action to the Robertson County Circuit Court for further findings consistent with this opinion.

Ramsey Seeking Judicial Redistricting Advice

Lt. Gov. and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey held a press conference today asking the legal community and the public for advice on redistricting the boundaries of the state’s 31 judicial districts, according to TN Report. Over the last several weeks, Ramsey has said he wants to hear from district attorneys, judges and bar associations, including the Tennessee Bar Association. He has long argued the lines need to be redrawn to deal with imbalances in workload and resources. At a forum sponsored by the Associated Press last week, WPLN reports that he said judicial districts are “completely out of whack.” In addition to pushing for a new map this year, Ramsey is supporting legislation that would require lines be redrawn every 10 years.

'Guns in Trunks' Bill Likely to Pass Senate Tonight

Legislation granting handgun permit holders the right to keep firearms inside a motor vehicle is “virtually assured of passage on the Senate floor tonight.” In the House, the companion bill faces its first committee vote on Tuesday, Knoxnews reports. On the eve of the vote, however, Gov. Bill Haslam continues to express concerns not just about safety issues but that the bill could inadvertently limit the current right of non-student adults to keep guns locked in a car on school and university grounds, despite the fact they do not have permits. Haslam has not take a position on the bill, but says in deciding whether to sign it or not he will consider whether "it actually is more restrictive than the law is now."

Track Legislation of Interest to Tennessee Attorneys

The TBA has a number of tools to help you track action in the Tennessee General Assembly. Read TBA Today for regular news updates and follow the TBA Action List to track bills in the General Assembly that the TBA has a direct interest in -- those it has initiated, taken a position on, or has a policy on. The TBA Watch List is a broader list of bills of interest to the Tennessee legal community.

Herenton Looks to Expand Juvenile School to Nashville

Former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton is on track to open the Thurgood Marshall Charter School this fall for Memphis and Shelby County youth in juvenile court custody. In a recent interview with WREG News 3 in Memphis, Herenton also announced he has been approached by Nashville leaders interested in opening a similar school there. He also disclosed plans to pursue a partnership with former NFL legend Jim Brown, who runs a gang intervention and character development program.

S.C. Lawyer in Line for 2014 ABA President

The ABA Nominating Committee yesterday confirmed its selection of William C. Hubbard, a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough in Columbia, S.C., as the association's president-elect nominee. Hubbard, who served as chair of the House of Delegates from 2008 to 2010, is running unopposed, the ABA Journal reports. His nomination was announced at the ABA House of Delegates meeting today in Dallas, where the association is holding its 2013 Midyear Meeting. He will be inducted as president-elect this August and take office as president in August 2014.

Services This Week for Memphis Lawyer

Memphis lawyer Sam L. Crain Jr. died this past Saturday (Feb. 9) after a long battle with cancer. He was 61. Cain earned his law degree from the University of Memphis in 1983 and had served as an adjunct professor there since 1999. He joined the law firm of Burch, Porter & Johnson in 1984 and was named a member in 1991. He focused his practice primarily on products liability and personal injury defense as well as a range of transportation and employment law. Visitation will take place Tuesday at Canale Funeral Home from 5-7 p.m. A funeral mass will be held Wednesday at 3 p.m. at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 190 Adams Ave., Memphis 38103. A reception will follow at the offices of Burch, Porter & Johnson, 130 North Court Ave. The family asks that memorials be sent to Overton Park Conservancy or M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The Memphis Bar Association reported the news.

Retired Judge, State Rep. Dies

Former Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Sam E. Boaz died Feb. 8, the Leaf Chronicle reports. He was 95. A graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, Boaz practiced law in Knoxville, then joined the legal department of Aluminum Co. of America. In 1944, he was appointed to the U.S. Foreign Service and served in the American embassy in London. He resigned from diplomatic service in 1946 and returned to Tennessee to practice law. He later moved to Clarksville to practice with then state Sen. Austin Peay. After Peay died, he founded Boaz and Beach with William O. Beach. From 1963 to 1967, Boaz represented Montgomery and Cheatham counties in the state House of Representatives. And for 16 years, he served as a judge on the Montgomery County Criminal Court. Services were held today in Clarksville. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Austin Peay State University Professors Scholarship of Excellence in the Arts; the Boaz Scholarship at Bethel University in McKenzie; or the charity of choice.

Hometowns Wrong for Chancery Court Candidates

A story in TBA Today on Friday named the three candidates approved by the Judicial Nominating Commission for a seat on the 8th Judicial District Chancery Court, but did not appropriately note their hometowns. James L. Cotton Jr. and Charles P. Sexton are from Oneida. Andrew R. Tillman is from Huntsville.


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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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