State Officials Warn of ACA Scams

Scam artists don't need special knowledge about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to take advantage of unsuspecting victims, state officials say. The law's sheer complexity and the its rocky rollout have created ample opportunity for scam artists to target those worried about changes in their health coverage -- especially the elderly, says Kate Abernathy, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance. So far, reports of scams include bogus websites, cold calls touting special ACA insurance cards and offers to help people sign up for insurance for a fee. The Chattanooga Times Free Press has more on the story.

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
04 - 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 Court of Appeals

CORRECTION: On page 2, in the fourth paragraph, the word "allegedly" has been inserted before the phrase "due to complications"

Court: TN Court of Appeals


Stephen D. Crawley and Anna V. Blair, Memphis, Tennessee for Defendant/Appellant South Parkway Associates, L.P.

W. Bryan Smith and Peter B. Gee, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee for Plaintiff/Appellee Jerald Farmer, Individually and on behalf of Marie Farmer and Beneficiaries.


This appeal concerns the denial of a motion to compel arbitration. The sister of the decedent signed several admissions documents on the decedent’s behalf for purposes of admitting her to the defendant health care facility. At that time, the sister also signed an optional arbitration agreement. Several days later, the decedent passed away, and subsequently, the decedent’s beneficiaries brought a wrongful death action against the healthcare facility on her behalf. The healthcare facility moved to compel arbitration, arguing that the sister had authority to bind the decedent to the terms of the arbitration agreement based on several agency theories, as no power of attorney existed. After reviewing the depositions submitted in lieu of live testimony, the trial court determined the arbitration agreement was not enforceable because the sister lacked the legal authority to bind the decedent. Based on a careful review of the evidence, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Cynthia A. Cheatham, Manchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Beverly Diane Jesse.

Michelle M. Benjamin, Winchester, Tennessee, for the appellee, Erik Dean Jesse.


Mother and Father were divorced in 2006, and their parenting plan did not include an award of child support because residential parenting time was equally shared and they were earning roughly the same amount. Mother filed a petition in 2010 seeking an award of child support based on Father’s increased income. The trial court deviated downward from the presumptive amount of child support established by the child support guidelines to take into account each party’s expenses incurred in driving back and forth to work, and then awarded Mother child support payable on a monthly basis. Mother appealed, arguing that the trial court exceeded its authority by deviating downward for a reason not explicitly set forth in the guidelines. We affirm the trial court’s judgment because tribunals have discretion to deviate from the guidelines for reasons other than those explicitly set forth in the guidelines.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Janet M. Kleinfelter, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, James A. Vick, Lela M. Hollabaugh, and the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility.

Janet L. Layman and James Daniel Richardson Roberts, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Connie Reguli.


Attorney filed petition pursuant to the Public Records Act for disclosure of documents held by the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility, the Board’s Chair, and Disciplinary Counsel to the Board relating to eight disciplinary proceedings. Access to the documents had been withheld based on a claim that the documents were exempt from disclosure in accordance with Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 9, § 25.3. Responding officials appeal the trial court’s order that the documents be produced. Finding that the documents sought were confidential and privileged from disclosure, we reverse the judgment and remand with instructions to dismiss the petition.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Betty L. Graham, Jasper, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Carol M. Ballard and Bill W. Pemerton, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Lake Park Condo-Signal View.


This consolidated appeal concerns Plaintiff’s ownership interest in condominium units. Plaintiff filed several complaints concerning the alleged mismanagement of her property. The complaints at issue in this case were dismissed by the trial court, which found that the applicable statute of limitations had passed and that several of Plaintiff’s claims were barred by the doctrine of res judicata. Plaintiff appeals. We affirm the decision of the trial court.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Kathleen G. Morris, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Stephanie D. Cooley.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Assistant Attorney General; and Victor S. Johnson, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Petitioner, Stephanie D. Cooley, pled guilty to two counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud in Sumner County in 2007. As a result, she was sentenced to two, concurrent, twoyear sentences. The sentences were suspended, and Petitioner was ordered to probation. Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging the Sumner County convictions in Davidson County in October of 2012. The petition was dismissed because there was nothing on the face of the judgments to indicate that the convictions were void. Petitioner appeals, arguing that the habeas corpus court improperly denied habeas corpus relief. After a review of the record and applicable authorities, we determine that the habeas corpus court properly denied habeas corpus relief where Petitioner failed to show that her judgments were void.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Chivous S. Robinson, Whiteville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

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


The pro se petitioner, Chivous S. Robinson, appeals as of right from the Knox County Criminal Court’s order denying his petition for writ of error coram nobis alleging that newly discovered evidence concerning the judicial misconduct of a trial judge affected the outcome of his 2000 jury trial and 2005 post-conviction proceedings. 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


Kathleen G. Morris (on appeal) and Newton Holiday (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, John T. Vine, II.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson III, District Attorney General; and Sharon Reddick, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


John T. Vine, II (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of two counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of solicitation to commit aggravated sexual battery. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of twenty-two years’ incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions. He also argues that the trial court committed plain error in admitting as evidence the videotaped recording of the Defendant’s interview with police. Finally, the Defendant challenges the length of his sentences and the trial court’s imposition of partially consecutive sentences. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Jerome Wall, Pearl, Mississippi, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Paul Goodman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Petitioner, Jerome Wall, pled guilty to robbery and aggravated robbery in August, 1992, in the Shelby County Criminal Court. Petitioner received concurrent sentences of three years for his robbery conviction and ten years for his aggravated robbery conviction, to be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On May 18, 2012, Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, challenging his 1992 convictions, which the trial court denied without an evidentiary hearing. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Supreme Court Ruling Likely to Impact Chattanooga Prayer Suit

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a New York prayer lawsuit that likely will influence the outcome of a similar case in Chattanooga, the Times Free Press reports. Justices heard from two women who are suing the town of Greece, N.Y., for holding predominately Christian prayers before town council meetings. An unrelated but similar suit has been pending in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga since 2012. It challenges the way Hamilton County opens its commission meetings with prayer. The attorney in the local suit says the Supreme Court’s action will set new law that will have to applied to his clients’ case. The ABA Journal has more on the New York case.

State Budget Hearings Start Next Week

Gov. Bill Haslam will hold state budget hearings for Fiscal Year 2014-2015 starting Tuesday and running through Nov. 25, reports. Hearings will be held in the Executive Conference Room on the ground floor of the Capitol. Haslam, Finance and Administration Commissioner Larry Martin and State Budget Director David Thurman will preside. The proceedings also may be viewed on the state website. See a schedule online.

Paine Explains Lay Opinion, Reviews Lindbergh Book

In the November issue, Tennessee Bar Journal columnist Donald F. Paine explains lay opinion, using as his example the trial of current death row inmate Jerry Ray Davidson. Paine also reviews the book The 16th Rail: The Evidence, the Scientist and the Lindbergh Kidnapping, by Adam J. Schrager, which Paine heartily recommends.

Great Skiing, Great CLE on Tap at CLE Ski 2014

More than two feet of snow are already on the ground at Snowmass, the Colorado home for the 2014 TBA CLE Ski program. If you haven’t signed up yet, it’s time to start making plans. Headquarters for this Jan. 25-30 program will again be the Stonebridge Inn located in the heart of Snowmass Village, just minutes northwest of Aspen. Along with prime skiing, attendees at this program, now in its 29th year, will take part in stimulating CLE programming each afternoon for a total of 15 hours. That includes three hours of dual credit sessions. Find out more or make your reservations now.

MSNBC Looks at Financing of Judicial Elections

Bert Brandenburg, executive director of Justice at Stake, and Texas Supreme Court Justice Wallace Jefferson will appear on MSNBC tomorrow between 2:30 and 3 p.m. Central for a discussion about a new study showing the impact of special interest spending in judicial races. The study -- a collaboration between Justice at Stake, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, and the National Institute on Money in State Politics -- looks at the first full election cycle since the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, and how special interest groups took advantage of the ability to spend freely in state judicial races.

KBA Holds 17th Annual LawTalk Next Week

The Knoxville Bar Association (KBA) will hold its annual LawTalk Program next week. This year, the free educational program will focus on issues of concern to the elderly, including having a will and an estate plan, and understanding legal protections that are available for seniors and their caregivers. Sessions will be held Nov. 15 at the O'Connor Senior Center and Nov. 16 at Fellowship Church. Free parking is available at both locations and materials will be provided. At each location, local lawyers will present information and answer questions from the audience. Pre-registration is not required but appreciated. Register by calling (865) 522-6522 or visiting the KBA online. Download a flyer about the sessions or get answers to frequently asked questions here.

Duncan Law to Offer Free LSAT Training

The Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law will offer three free LSAT workshops this month, Knoxnews reports. The sessions will run from 6 to 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 13, 20 and 23. Each session will cover two components of the exam. The training will be held in Room 101 of the law school, located at 601 W. Summit Hill Dr. All materials will be provided. Though the training is free, registration is required by Nov. 11. Contact Trish Carroll at (865) 545-5304 or by email for more information or to register.

Former State Prosecutor Dies

Thomas Everett Crawford Sr., who served in the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office as a prosecutor for 25 years, died Oct. 29. He was 88. A veteran of World War II, he was an Army paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne and parachuted into LeHavre, France. Crawford was one of the original parishioners of Holy Rosary Catholic Church and an active supporter of numerous charities, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He earned his law degree from Southern Law University and was licensed to practice law in Tennessee in 1952. Memorials may be sent to the charity of the donor’s choice. Read more about his life in the Commercial Appeal.

Assistant Public Defender Sought in Memphis

The Office of the Federal Defender for the Western District of Tennessee is accepting applications for an assistant federal public defender in Memphis. The candidate must be committed to representing the indigent and have excellent writing, legal research, advocacy and communication skills. In addition, fluency in Spanish, experience in federal court, and knowledge of federal criminal law and sentencing guidelines is preferred. Those interested should send a cover letter, resume, references and writing sample by Dec. 15 to Doris Randle-Holt, Federal Public Defender, 200 Jefferson Ave., Suite 200, Memphis, TN 38103. Download a job description.


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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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