St. Thomas Clinic Wants Meningitis Lawsuits Consolidated

Attorneys for St. Thomas Outpatient Neurosurgical Center, where dozens of patients were injected with a meningitis-tainted steroid, filed a motion in Davidson County Circuit Court asking that the presiding judge assign the current and future lawsuits to a single circuit or chancery court judge, the Tennessean reports. The motion was filed on behalf of the Howell Allen Clinic, a codefendant in the two recent suits. The move for consolidation follows recent action merging cases in federal court stemming from the same fungal meningitis outbreak, which caused 14 deaths among Tennessee patients and sickened more than 700 people nationwide.

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.

02 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Workers Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
06 - TN Court of Appeals
03 - 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 Supreme Court

BRANDON MOBLEY v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and TaKisha Fitzgerald, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

Wade V. Davies, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Brandon Mobley.

Judge: KOCH

This appeal involves a petition for post-conviction relief based on multiple ineffective assistance of counsel claims. The petitioner was convicted in the Criminal Court for Knox County of two counts of premeditated first degree murder, one count of especially aggravated robbery, and one count of setting fire to personal property. His convictions were affirmed and his sentences were modified on direct appeal. State v. Mobley, No. E2006-00469-CCAR3- CD, 2007 WL 1670195 (Tenn. Crim. App. June 11, 2007), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Sept. 24, 2007). Thereafter, the petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief based on numerous instances of his trial counsel’s alleged ineffective assistance and on several instances of alleged trial court errors. Following a two-day hearing, the post-conviction court dismissed the petition. On appeal, the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the petitioner’s convictions and remanded the case for a new trial after determining that the petitioner’s trial counsel had been ineffective with regard to limitations placed on the ability of a defense expert to testify that the petitioner’s mental condition rendered him unable to premeditate. Mobley v. State, No. E2010-00379-CCA-R3-PC, 2011 WL 3652535 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 18, 2011). We granted the State’s Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application for permission to appeal. We have determined that the petitioner is not entitled to post-conviction relief based on the manner in which his trial counsel dealt with the limitations placed on the defense’s expert witness. However, we have also determined that the record does not permit the reviewing courts to determine whether the performance of the petitioner’s trial counsel was deficient with regard to the requirement that the petitioner wear a stun belt during the trial. Accordingly, we affirm the judgments of the lower courts denying post-conviction relief based on the alleged errors of the trial court and on all the ineffective assistance of counsel claims except the claims based on the testimony of the defense’s mental health expert and the use of the stun belt during the trial. We reverse the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals and affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court with regard to the ineffective assistance of counsel claim based on trial counsel’s failure to elicit a specific opinion from the defense’s mental health expert. We also reverse the judgment of the lower courts denying the ineffective assistance of counsel claim relating to trial counsel’s failure to object to the use of a stun belt during the trial and remand that issue alone to the post-conviction court for a new hearing.


IN RE: TAYLOR B. W. ET AL.

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys:

John Kimball, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the minor children, Taylor W. and Ashley W.

Phillip McCarroll Jacobs and James F. Logan, Jr., Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant-intervenor, Brenda T., and for the appellant, Katina H.

Allison James Starnes-Anglia and Shelley S. Breeding, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Loy W. and Robert W.

Judge: HOLDER

Mother and Father entered into a marital dissolution agreement and a parenting plan for their two minor children. Mother subsequently injected Father with a chemical used to euthanize animals. She pleaded guilty to the attempted second degree murder of Father and was sentenced to twelve years incarceration. Mother and Father entered into an amended parenting plan that provided for the children’s visitation with their maternal grandmother and with Mother in prison. The amended parenting plan also provided for the resumption of the original parenting plan after Mother’s release from prison. Father remarried while Mother was incarcerated. Father and Stepmother filed a petition for termination of Mother’s parental rights and a petition for adoption by Stepmother. The trial court found that there was a statutory ground for termination of Mother’s parental rights and that termination of Mother’s parental rights was in the best interests of the children. The trial court subsequently amended its order, concluding that termination of Mother’s parental rights was not in the best interests of the children and denying the petition for termination of Mother’s parental rights. Father and Stepmother appealed, and the Court of Appeals reinstated the original order. We conclude that Father and Stepmother failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that termination of Mother’s parental rights is in the best interests of the children. Accordingly, we reverse the Court of Appeals and reinstate the amended order of the trial court.


TN Court of Appeals

JEANNIE MCGINNIS CALDWELL v. THE VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY d/b/a VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

W. H. Stephenson, II, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeannie McGinnis Caldwell

Steven E. Anderson and Sara F. Reynolds, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, The Vanderbilt University d/b/a Vanderbilt University Medical Center et al.

Judge: BENNETT

Plaintiff filed suit against Vanderbilt University Medical Center for injuries she sustained during an MRI scan. The trial court held that the complaint stated a claim for medical malpractice and dismissed the complaint for failure to comply with the Tennessee Medical Malpractice Act (“TMMA”). Plaintiff appeals, asserting the complaint sounded in common law negligence and, alternatively, that the documents she filed complied with the TMMA. We affirm the trial court.


CITIMORTGAGE, INC. v. ANGELINE RENEE DRAKE

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Whitney Durand, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Angeline Renee Drake.

Misty Smith Kelley, Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Bradley E. Trammel, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, CitiMortage, Inc.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; and Alexander S. Rieger, Assistant Attorney General, General Civil Division, Nashville, Tennessee, for the intervener, Tennessee Attorney General.

Judge: SUSANO

This is one of three cases consolidated for oral argument. In each case, the following happened: (1) the borrower defaulted on his or her home loan and the lender foreclosed by non-judicial action, a procedure authorized by the deed of trust; (2) the purchaser at the trustee’s sale sought possession through an unlawful detainer action; (3) the borrower filed a counterclaim asserting that the non-judicial foreclosure process violates the Tennessee Constitution and is against public policy; and (4) the trial court dismissed the counterclaim and granted possession to the purchaser. The present case went off on summary judgment. The borrower appeals. We affirm the judgment of the trial court in all respects.


FEDERAL NATIONAL MORTGAGE ASSOCIATION v. JAMES W. FRIERSON ET AL.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Whitney Durand, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellants, James W. Frierson and Patricia M. Frierson.

Misty Smith Kelly, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Federal National Mortgage Association.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; and Alexander S. Rieger, Assistant Attorney General, General Civil Division, Nashville, Tennessee, for the intervener, Tennessee Attorney General.

Judge: SUSANO

This is one of three cases consolidated for oral argument. In each case, the following happened: (1) the borrower defaulted on his or her home loan and the lender foreclosed by non-judicial action, a procedure authorized by the deed of trust; (2) the purchaser at the trustee’s sale sought possession through an unlawful detainer action; (3) the borrower filed a counterclaim asserting that the non-judicial foreclosure process violates the Tennessee Constitution and is against public policy; and (4) the trial court dismissed the counterclaim and granted possession to the purchaser. The present case went off on summary judgment. The borrower appeals. We affirm the judgment of the trial court in all respects.


THAIS M. LAY v. MILLARD C. WALLACE and IRIS CARRINGTON

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen L. Hughes, Milan, Tennessee; Thomas F. Bloom, Nashville, for the appellant, Thais M. Lay and Brent Lay

Lowe Finney, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellees, Millard C. Wallace and Iris Carrington

Judge: HIGHERS

This case involves the status of a road as public or private, as well as Plaintiff’s right to access such. We find that the roadway was a public road prior to 1960, but that it has since been abandoned. Finding no necessity, we further conclude that Plaintiff is not entitled to a private easement over the road to access her property. We affirm the trial court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s complaint.


PATELCO CREDIT UNION v. CHRIS E. DUTTON

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Whitney Durand, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Chris E. Dutton.

Richard T. Klinger, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Patelco Credit Union.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; and Alexander S. Rieger, Assistant Attorney General, General Civil Division, Nashville, Tennessee, for the intervener, Tennessee Attorney General.

Judge: SUSANO

This is one of three cases consolidated for oral argument. In each case, the following happened: (1) the borrower defaulted on his or her home loan and the lender foreclosed by non-judicial action, a procedure authorized by the deed of trust; (2) the purchaser at the trustee’s sale sought possession through an unlawful detainer action; (3) the borrower filed a counterclaim asserting that the non-judicial foreclosure process violates the Tennessee Constitution and is against public policy; and (4) the trial court dismissed the counterclaim and granted possession to the purchaser following a bench trial. The borrower appeals. We affirm the judgment of the trial court in all respects.


CINDY RUSSELL v. JEAN CLARIDY

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Jeffrey D. Ridner, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Cindy Russell.

Alicia Nicole Napier, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jean Claridy.

Judge: BENNETT

A healthy, living tree located in neighbor A’s yard was knocked over during a storm and fell into neighbor B’s yard. The trial court found that neighbor A was not liable to neighbor B for the resulting damage. We affirm.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

HARVEY TAYLOR V. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Ashley Preston, Nashville, Tennessee for the appellant, Harvey Taylor.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; Roger Moore, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

The Petitioner, Harvey Taylor, pled guilty to rape, a Class B felony, and, pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court sentenced him to twelve years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Petitioner timely filed a petition for post-conviction relief claiming that his guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary because he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the post-conviction court’s dismissal of the petition.


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. KEVIN GROSS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

A. Russell Brown, Lafayette, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kevin Gross.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Assistant Attorney General; Tom P. Thompson, District Attorney General; and Tom Swink and Javin Cripps, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WEDEMEYER

A Macon County jury convicted the Defendant, Kevin Gross, of criminal responsibility for facilitation of burglary and theft of property. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a persistent offender to concurrent terms of four years and eight years, respectively, in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in ruling that, if the Defendant chose to testify, the State could use his prior conviction for burglary of an automobile to impeach his testimony under Rule 609 of the Tennessee Rules of Evidence. After thoroughly reviewing the record and applicable authorities, we find that the trial court did not err when it ruled that the State could impeach the Defendant with his prior conviction for burglary of an automobile. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.


ABISAI U. MALDONADO v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Stephen R. Leffler, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Abisai U. Maldonado.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Betsy Lynn Wiseman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Petitioner, Abisai U. Maldonado, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. The Petitioner contends that he received an illegal, one-year sentence for a misdemeanor conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.


Applications Accepted for 3rd Judicial District Circuit, Chancery Court Vacanies

The Judicial Nominating Commission is accepting applications for the Circuit Court vacancy in the 3rd Judicial District created by the retirement of the Hon. Kindall T. Lawson, effective May 31. The commission is also accepting applications for a Chancery Court vacancy in the same district. Interested applicants must submit an application to the Administrative Office of the Courts by March 11. Candidates wishing to apply for both vacancies may submit one application. The 3rd Judicial District serves Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins and Greene counties.


Online Voting Begins Friday

Tennessee Bar Association members should receive an email Friday with information on voting online for contested TBA leadership positions – vice president and governor for the 1st District of the Board of Governors. Find a full list of positions and candidates.


Beer Companies, DOJ to Resolve Merger Suit

The Department of Justice is in talks with Anheuser- Busch InBev and Grupo Modelo about resolving a legal challenge to their $20.1 billion deal, WRCP News Channel 3 reports. In January, the DOJ filed suit to block the merger due to market monopolization. The beer makers recently revised the terms of the acquisition to give more control of Modelo’s U.S. beer brands to a wine company in a side deal. Both parties are asking the court for a stay of all litigation proceeding until March 19 while the government weighs whether the revised terms of the deal resolve its concerns about market competition.


Vandy Law Professor Teaches Judges to Channel Emotions on the Bench

In the wake of the viral video of a Florida judge’s harsh reaction to a disrespectful teenage defendant, Vanderbilt law professor Terry Maroney held a session for roughly 40 judges in Washington about how to channel a range of feelings on the bench in an appropriate manner. “We tell judges, 'If you ever detect an emotion, squelch it.' That's an extremely bad idea," she told the Newstimes. "You're going to have emotions as a judge, no matter how many people tell you you won't or aren't supposed to."


Hamilton County to Beef Up Court Security

Hamilton County commissioners have unanimously approved building a new, $8,000 bulletproof bench in courtroom 6. The courtroom, which was once a jury assembly room, lacks some of the safety and access features standard in most courtrooms. Sessions Court Judge Clarence Shattuck told the Chattanooga Free Press other changes would improve security as well, such as reversing the orientation of the room once the new bench is built in order to reduce exposure of the judges in a crisis situation.


Court Upholds Mother’s Parental Rights

The Tennessee Supreme Court upheld a trial court’s ruling that termination of a mother’s parental rights was not in the best interest of the children. In 2002, a Bradley County couple divorced and entered into a parenting plan for their two minor children. The mother was incarcerated in 2003 after pleading guilty to attempted second degree murder of the father. The mother and father entered into an amended parenting plan stipulating that they would follow the original plan upon the mother’s release from prison. In 2009, the father remarried and sought to terminate the mother’s parental rights. The Supreme Court reversed a Court of Appeals ruling that the father and stepmother established clear and convincing evidence that the termination was in the best interest of the children.


Senate Approves Judicial Selection Plan

The state Senate voted 29-2 in favor of a constitutional amendment that would end the current merit selection process and let the governor select appeals court judges with legislative confirmation. “The people of Tennessee have never been asked whether they favor the judicial selection plan that our founding fathers in the U.S. Constitution came up with,” the measure’s sponsor, state Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, told the Tennessean. If approved by the House, the measure will appear on the ballot during the general election in November 2014.


Senate Education Committee Discusses Concussions, Affirmative Action

The Senate Education committee passed legislation that would require schools and other organizations conducting youth athletic programs in Tennessee to adopt concussion policies. The proposal, sponsored by Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, was approved 8-0 and will head to the floor of the Senate. News Channel 5 also reports a proposal to eliminate affirmative action initiatives in higher education institutions in Tennessee has been delayed another week in order to work out language of the bill. As written, the legislation would prohibit colleges and universities from granting preference “based on race, gender or ethnicity.” The main issue is the interpretation of the term “preference.”


Obama to Weigh In on Gay Marriage Ban

The Obama administration has one week to file a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court outlining its opinion on California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage. While the Department of Justice would make the filing, the president is almost certain to make the ultimate decision on whether to do so. Gay rights advocates are calling on the administration to file a broad brief not only asking the court to declare the ban unconstitutional but also to make all state bans illegal. The Commercial Appeal has the story. 


General Sessions Judge Receives Public Reprimand

Polk County General Sessions Judge Billy D. Baliles was issued a public reprimand from the Board of Judicial Conduct in response to a complaint filed by Jeff S. Patterson. The complaint and subsequent investigation found that Baliles issued an order altering child custody without engaging in proper procedural elements of a petition or hearing. Judge Baliles also engaged in a telephone conversation with the child’s grandfather that was an impermissible contact. Download the public notice.


 
 

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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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