TRO Denied, Narrow Enforcement Urged in Navigator Rule

After an hour-long hearing on a request for what Chancellor Russell Perkins characterized as a total restraining order, the Davidson County chancellor this afternoon denied a request to enjoin all enforcement of the emergency rule restricting advice and facilitation of information to consumers and businesses under the Affordable Care Act. In its ruling, the court did admonish the state to narrowly enforce the act as only applying to federally defined “navigators.” The state appeared to agree with the request. A hearing on a preliminary injunction is set for Oct. 9.

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
09 - TN Court of Appeals
04 - 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


Robert T. Keeton, III, Huntingdon, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Dale Trull.

George Robert Whitfield, III and W. Brown Hawley, II, Paris, Tennessee, for the appellee, Ann Bell.


This appeal arises from Defendant’s erection of barricades between Plaintiff’s property and Johnson Street in Benton County, Tennessee in order to block Plaintiff’s access to the street from her property. Defendant contends that Johnson Street does not extend to Plaintiff’s property and that he owns the land between the two. Plaintiff contends that Johnson Street does extend to her property and that she has a right of unimpeded access to it. Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment establishing Plaintiff’s right of access to Johnson Street, compensatory relief for damage caused to her land as a result of Defendant’s barricades, and that punitive damages be assessed against Defendant. Following a bench trial, the trial court granted Plaintiff unimpeded access to Johnson Street, awarded her $5,100 in compensatory damages, and assessed punitive damages of $10,000 against Defendant. Defendant appealed. On appeal, we are unable to effectively review the record and must remand for further findings of fact and conclusions of law under Rule 52.01 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Jessica C. McAfee, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Elite Oncology Medical Group.

Ronald W. Woods and Brandy M. Burnette, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Barbara Jean Clendenon, Personal Representative of the Estate of Todd P. Clendenon.


This case involves a claim filed against the Estate of Todd Clendenon. Elite Oncology Medical Group filed the claim seeking payment for medical treatment and services rendered to the decedent. Barbara Jean Clendenon, the decedent’s wife and his Personal Representative, moved the probate court to designate as “exempt funds” the monies paid to the decedent under his health insurance policy. The payments included those pertaining to the treatment and services the decedent received from Elite. Following a hearing, the trial court granted the motion. The court determined that payments made by the health insurance carrier that were deposited into the Estate’s bank account after the death of the decedent were exempt from the claims of creditors pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 26-1-110 (2010). Elite appeals. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Richard J. Braun and Julie Faye Travis, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Sara Eigen Figal.

John C. Callison and William N. Ozier, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, The Vanderbilt University.


A professor denied tenure at Vanderbilt University brought suit against the university asserting causes of action for breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation. We affirm the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the university.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Dale J. Montpelier and Stephen K. Perry, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Landview Construction, LLC, and Winston D. Cox.

Walter N. Winchester and Joshua R. Holden, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Firstbank.


Firstbank (“Plaintiff”) sued Landview Construction, LLC, Winston D. Cox (“Defendants”), and Beverly Linkous1 with regard to promissory notes secured by deeds of trust on three parcels of real property located in Knoxville, Tennessee. The parties attempted to enter into stipulations in lieu of presenting testimony at trial and informed the Trial Judge of these purported stipulations. After what passed as the trial, the Trial Court entered its Final Judgment finding and holding, inter alia, that Plaintiff be awarded a judgment in the amount of $149,192.22 against defendants Landview Construction, LLC and Winston D. Cox jointly and severally. Defendants appeal to this Court alleging that the Trial Court misconstrued the stipulations and as a result erred in the amount of the judgment. We find and hold that the purported stipulations were insufficient to show that the parties reached any agreement as to the stipulations. We, therefore, vacate the Trial Court’s judgment and remand this case for a new trial.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Gregory E. Bennett, Seymour, Tennessee, for the appellant, Spenser R.S.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Alexander S. Rieger, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.


Spenser R.S. (“Father”) appeals the termination of his parental rights to his minor son, Jeremiah I.R. (“the Child”). The Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) removed the Child from his mother’s custody after a babysitter took the Child and two siblings to the emergency room for injuries to the siblings.1 Father’s whereabouts were then unknown and his paternity of the Child had not yet been established. The Child’s mother entered into an agreed order with DCS stipulating that the Child was dependent and neglected in her care. Thereafter, the mother voluntarily relinquished her parental rights.2 Some 18 months later, DCS filed a petition to terminate Father’s rights. The trial court granted the petition based on its findings, by clear and convincing evidence, that multiple grounds for termination exist and that termination is in the best interest of the Child. Father appeals. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Andrew F. Tucker, Dayton, Tennessee, for the appellant, Terry Mullins.

Justin C. Angel, Pikeville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Alfred L. Locke, Sidney W. Locke, and William D. Gillespie and wife, Kimberly Gillespie.


This is a suit by Terry Mullins seeking a declaration that the Defendants, the Lockes (who are brothers) and the Gillespies (who are husband and wife) – whose properties lie near to, and south of, the Plaintiff’s property – have no right to the use of a driveway across the Plaintiff’s property to Vera Drive in Rhea County. The Defendants claim that they have a prescriptive easement, measuring some 47 feet long and 50 feet wide, enabling them to access Vera Drive over the Plaintiff’s property. This matter was before us at an earlier time. Because the statement of the evidence presented to us on the first appeal was, in our words, “a one-sided argumentative presentation of the evidence favorable to the Plaintiff,” we remanded this case to the trial court, pursuant to the provisions of Tenn. Code Ann. § 27-3- 1 128 (2000). (Emphasis in original.) In our remand, we advised the parties that we were taking this action “so a proper statement of the evidence c[ould] be prepared.” (Footnote in original omitted.) Such a statement has now been filed. Upon consideration of the very thorough statement prepared by the trial court, we conclude that the evidence does not preponderate against the court’s judgment finding and holding that the Defendants have a prescriptive easement over the property of the Plaintiff. Accordingly, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Joshua G. Strickland, David Scott Parsley, Michael K. Parsley, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Timothy Scott Hutten.

John Lester Whitfield, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Danna Owen.


This case involves a man and a woman who formed a limited liability company under the Tennessee Revised Limited Liability Company Act, Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 48-249-101 et seq, with the ostensible purpose of investing in real estate. The only investment it made, however, was the purchase of a house for the man and his children to live in. The woman supplied all the money to buy the house, as well as all the capital that was invested in the company. After personal differences arose between the parties, the woman petitioned the court to dissolve the company and to distribute its assets. The man asked the court to divide the assets of the company equally between the parties in accordance with the provisions of Tenn. Code Ann. § 48-249-305(b). The woman asked the court to order that she be repaid her entire financial contribution to the company. The trial court dissolved the company. After hearing proof and argument, it ordered that the house be sold, with the net proceeds of the sale to be applied first to the return of the woman’s capital contributions, with any profits beyond those contributions to be divided equally between the parties. We affirm the trial court.

S. A. M. D. v. J. P. D.

Court: TN Court of Appeals


Drayton Durell Berkley, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Appellant, S. A. M. D.

Vickie Hardy Jones, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Appellee, J. P. D.


Appellant/Mother appeals the trial court’s post-divorce modification of Appellee/Father’s child support obligation, and its finding that Appellant was guilty of various acts of criminal contempt. Appellant/Mother also appeals the trial court’s admission of certain evidence. We conclude that the trial court erred in addressing, sua sponte, the issue of modification of Appellee/Father’s child support obligation in the absence of a petition for modification as required by Tennessee Code Annotated Section 36-5-101(f)(1). Accordingly, we reverse the modification of child support. The order of the trial court is otherwise affirmed. Father’s request for attorney’s fees incurred in defense of this appeal is granted based upon provisions in the parenting plan and marital dissolution agreement. Affirmed in part; reversed in part; and remanded.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


William Grant Sitz, Kingsport, Tennessee, appellant, Pro se.

George K. Samuel and Katherine W. Singleton, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellee, Sharon Clayman Sitz.


fter some 16 years of marriage, Sharon Clayman Sitz (“Wife”) sued William Grant Sitz (“Husband”) for divorce. Following a bench trial, the court awarded Wife a divorce on the ground of inappropriate marital conduct. The court adopted Wife’s proposed parenting plan, which made Wife the primary residential parent of their minor child and divided the marital property. The court further determined that Husband was voluntarily underemployed and imputed additional income to him in order to calculate his child support obligation. Husband appeals. We affirm with one modification.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Mr. Stanley K. Pierchoski, Pulaski, Tennessee, for appellant, Robert Wayne Garner.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr. Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel, Assistant Attorney General; Lawrence R. Nickell, Jr. and Kyle E. Dodd, Assistant District Attorney, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The appellant, Robert Wayne Garner, appeals his jury convictions for first degree murder in perpetration of a felony, a Class A felony, see Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-202(a)(1); aggravated arson, a Class A felony, see Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-14-302; and theft of property valued over ten thousand dollars, a Class C felony, Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-14- 103. The appellant received the mandatory minimum sentence for first degree felony murder of life in prison. The trial court additionally sentenced the defendant to serve twenty-five years for his conviction of aggravated arson and three years for his conviction of theft. The latter sentences were ordered to be served concurrently, but consecutively to the life sentence for felony murder, for a total effective sentence of life plus twenty-five years. On appeal Garner alleges insufficiency of the evidence; trial court error allowing hearsay testimony; trial court error not allowing impeachment of a witness with a prior conviction; and trial court error in allowing the hearsay of a phone call. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Jeffery Demond Miree, Clifton, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The pro se petitioner, Jeffery Demond Miree, appeals as of right from the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s order denying his petition for writ of error coram nobis. The State has filed a motion to affirm the trial court’s order pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we conclude that the State’s motion is well-taken and affirm the order of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Graham Prichard (at trial) and Ryan C. Caldwell (on appeal), Nashville, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Christa Gail Pike.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Victor (Torry) S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Kathy Morante, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Christa Gail Pike, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from her conviction for attempted first degree premeditated murder of a fellow inmate. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that she received ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Lindsey Lane, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Franklin Robinette.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; C. Berkeley Bell, District Attorney General; and Cecil Mills, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

A Greene County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, William Franklin Robinette, of two counts of soliciting first degree premeditated murder. For each conviction, the trial court sentenced the appellant to twenty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction, with the sentences to be served consecutively to each other and to a previously imposed sentence for a total effective sentence of fifty years. On appeal, the appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions, the admission of a recording and transcript of the solicitation, the trial court’s failure to dismiss count two because of a violation of the Confrontation Clause, and the sentence imposed by the trial court. Upon review, we affirm the appellant’s convictions. However, the record reflects that no presentence report was prepared prior to the appellant’s sentencing hearing. Therefore, the case must be remanded for a new sentencing hearing.

Celebrate Pro Bono Kicks off Tuesday

Celebrate Pro Bono Month kicks off this week, bringing attention to the thousands of hours of free legal advice Tennessee lawyers provide every year. Now in its fifth year, the Tennessee Bar Association’s Celebrate Pro Bono Initiative brings together bar associations, law schools, law firms, legal services providers and individual lawyers to offer free services to those unable to afford a lawyer. This year's celebration is expected to involve more than 300 volunteers -- including lawyers, law students, paralegals and language interpreters -- in more than 60 events and activities across the state. The effort is also a part of a national pro bono campaign.

Tennessee Revises Execution Protocol

The Tennessee Department of Correction announced Friday that it is switching from a three-drug method to a single-drug method to execute death row inmates, the Associated Press reports. The new protocol now calls for using the sedative pentobarbital only to put an inmate to death. Tennessee's supply of sodium thiopental, one of three drugs previously used in lethal injections, was turned over to the federal government in 2011 over questions about how it was imported. The short supply of sodium thiopental in the United States has led many death penalty states to seek out other drugs. Read more in the Memphis Daily News.

States Tightening Voter Laws Face DOJ Suits

A growing number of Republican-led states are moving to tighten voting rules following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down portions of the Voting Rights Act. Texas is battling the U.S. Justice Department to put a voter ID law in place. In Florida, election officials are trying to remove noncitizens from the state's voting rolls. The latest state to draw the attention of the Justice Department is North Carolina. The department filed a lawsuit today to block parts of state law requiring voter ID, shortening times for early voting, eliminating same-day voter registration and restricting the counting of some provisional ballots. The Associated Press and WCYB report.

Tennessee to Add Family Justice Centers

Tennessee officials will announce plans to increase the number of family justice centers across the state during an event tomorrow, the Columbia Daily Herald reports. Family justice centers bring multiple agencies under one roof for a coordinated approach to providing domestic violence victims with a single location to access safety, advocacy, justice and other services. The announcement is timed to coincide with the start of October’s National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Those expected to attend include Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons, 6th Judicial District Attorney Randy Nichols, 13th Judicial District Attorney Randy York, Bill Scollon, director of the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs, and representatives from the Knoxville and Memphis centers.

Lewis to Receive UT Alumni Service Award

Memphis lawyer and former TBA President George T. "Buck" Lewis has been selected to receive the University of Tennessee’s Alumni Service Award, which recognizes extraordinary service to the school. Lewis, a shareholder with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, earned his undergraduate, business and law degrees from the university, and has remained engaged with alumni and development activities. Lewis “gives generously of his time as one of the university's most ardent and influential advocates in West Tennessee,” said Dr. Joe DiPietro, president of the University of Tennessee System. Douglas A. Blaze, dean of the College of Law, added, "Buck is an extraordinary individual who has devoted his career to serving his clients, his alma mater, his profession and his state. He represents all that is great about the University of Tennessee and the legal profession." Read more on the Baker Donelson website.

Updated TBA Health Insurance Exchange Set to Launch

October 1 marks the roll out of Affordable Care Act healthcare marketplaces, and the TBA and its health insurance broker are working on converting the TBA Health Insurance Exchange into an updated private/public exchange. As soon as plan figures for the various states are known, the new program -- the American Health Insurance Exchange or AHIX -- will take members through the many public/private, qualified/non-qualified and subsidized/non-subsidized options that are available, based on each member's individual circumstance.


Questions, comments: Email us at

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.

© Copyright 2013 Tennessee Bar Association