Davidson DA Will Not Seek Re-election

Victor “Torry” Johnson III, Davidson County’s longtime top prosecutor, today announced to staff and Metro leaders he will not seek re-election as district attorney general when his term ends in August. Johnson has been Davidson County’s district attorney general since 1987, with the majority of his career before that as a prosecutor, the Tennessean reports.

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

ALBERT H. SIMPKINS v. A. O. SMITH CORPORATION, ET AL.

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys:

Lee Anne Murray, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, A. O. Smith Corporation d/b/a APCOM, Inc. and Sentry Insurance.

Richard T. Matthews, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellee, Albert M. Simpkins.

Judge: KOCH

This appeal calls into question the sufficiency of the evidence to support an award of workers’ compensation disability benefits related to the aggravation of a pre-existing cervical injury. After settling a claim for an earlier lumbar and cervical injury, the employee filed a new claim in the Circuit Court for Williamson County seeking compensation for aggravation of that injury. The employer insisted that the employee’s condition was a continuation of the prior injury. Following a bench trial, the trial court found that, as a result of performing repetitive tasks, the employee had sustained a new cervical injury and awarded the employee permanent total disability benefits. The employer appealed, asserting (1) that the evidence preponderates against the findings regarding causation and permanency and (2) that the testimony of the employee’s examining physician should be disregarded because it does not comply with the AMA Guides. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law in accordance with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We have determined that the evidence does not support the trial court’s conclusion that the employee sustained a new injury and, therefore, we reverse the judgment of the trial court.


TN Court of Appeals

CONTINENTAL CASUALTY COMPANY, ET AL. v. THERACO, INC.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Benjamin M. Rose, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellants, Continental Casualty Company and Travelers Property Casualty Company of America.

Laurenn Disspayne, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Theraco, Inc.

Judge: FARMER

Continental Casualty Company (“CNA”) and Travelers Property Casualty Company of America (“Travelers”) filed this suit against Theraco, Inc. (“Theraco”) seeking compensation for additional workers’ compensation premiums. Theraco’s insurance contracts with CNA and Travelers provided that it would pay premiums for employees and all other persons who posed a risk of workers’ compensation liability. Pursuant to the contracts, CNA and Travelers both charged Theraco premiums for physical therapists with whom Theraco had contracted. Theraco disputes that it is liable for paying premiums for the workers. After a hearing, the Department of Commerce and Insurance ruled that Theraco was not liable for the additional premiums because the physical therapists were independent contractors rather than employees. CNA and Travelers appealed the Department’s decision to the Chancery Court for Davidson County. The trial court upheld the Department’s ruling, not only concluding that the physical therapists were independent contractors, but also that they did not pose a risk of workers’ compensation liability. CNA and Travelers appealed to this Court. We affirm in part, reverse in part and remand for entry of a judgment consistent with this opinion.


SPENCER D. LAND ET AL. v. JOHN L. DIXON ET AL.
CORRECTION: Law firm added to page 1 and page 2.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys:

Everett L. Hixson, Jr., Phillip E. Fleenor, and Adam U. Holland, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellants, Spencer D. Land and Action Building and Development, LLC.

James T. Williams and Zachary H. Greene, Miller & Martin, PLLC, Chattanooga, Tennessee,for the appellees, John L. Dixon, John Dixon and Associates, Inc., and Henry B. Glascock dba The Henry B. Glascock Company.

Judge: SUSANO

The plaintiffs – purchasers of a tract of land at auction – brought this action alleging professional negligence in the conduct of the auction, misrepresentation, and violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act (“the TCPA”). The trial court dismissed the complaint, finding that it failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. On plaintiffs’ first appeal, we affirmed the dismissal of the misrepresentation and TCPA claims. Land v. Dixon, No. E2004-03019-COA-R3-CV, 2005 WL 1618743 (Tenn. Ct. App. E.S., filed July 12, 2005) (“Land I”). We vacated the dismissal of the claim for professional negligence, and remanded the case for trial of that issue. After remand, the trial court granted the defendants’ motion for partial summary judgment and their subsequent motion in limine, holding that plaintiffs were precluded, under our holding in Land I, from presenting evidence of the defendants’ alleged misrepresentations as an aspect of their professional negligence claim. The jury returned a verdict for the defendants on the professional negligence claim. In this second appeal, we hold the trial court did not err in its ruling excluding evidence of misrepresentations and in limiting the negligence claim of the plaintiffs to the conduct of the defendants in their capacity as auctioneers. We further find no prejudicial error in the trial court’s jury charge regarding comparative fault and auctioneer discretion. We affirm the trial court’s judgment based on the jury verdict.


TN Court of Criminal Appeals

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BRANDI CLUTTS

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Donna Orr Hargrove, District Public Defender; and William J. Harold, Assistant Public Defender, Lewisburg, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Brandi Clutts.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Robert Carter, District Attorney General; and Weakley E. Barnard, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Brandi Clutts, appeals the trial court’s revocation of her probation and reinstatement of her original four-year sentence in the Department of Correction. On appeal, Clutts argues that the trial court abused its discretion in ordering a sentence of full confinement rather than imposing split confinement. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


JERMAINE MITCHELL GRAY v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Jeremy B. Epperson, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jermaine Mitchell Gray.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; Al Earls, Assistant District Attorney General; and Shaun A. Brown, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Petitioner, Jermaine Mitchell Gray, was found guilty by a Madison County jury of aggravated robbery, and he was subsequently sentenced to serve 12 years as a Range I standard offender. This court affirmed the conviction, and our supreme court denied Petitioner’s application for permission to appeal. State v. Jermaine Mitchell Gray, No. W2009-01260-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 4544395 (Tenn. Crim. App. Nov. 10, 2010) perm. app. denied (Tenn. April 13, 2011). He subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief which was denied by the trial court following an evidentiary hearing. Petitioner appeals asserting that the trial court erred by denying him post-conviction relief because his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the trial court which denied postconviction relief.


BRYAN R. MILAM v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys:

Robert C. Richardson, Jr., (at post-conviction hearing and on appeal), Columbia, Tennessee; and Chelsea Nicholson (on appeal), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bryan R. Milam.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; T. Michel Bottoms, District Attorney General; and J. Douglas Dicus, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Petitioner, Bryan R. Milam, appeals the Wayne County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for first degree murder and second degree murder and resulting sentence of life plus twenty-three years. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred in denying relief because he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial, at the motion for new trial hearing, and on appeal. Specifically, the Petitioner argues that his various attorneys (1) failed to present rebuttal medical evidence concerning the “tight” nature of the victim’s wound or challenge the credibility of the medical examiner, Dr. Charles Harlan, who had lost his medical license following the Petitioner’s convictions; and (2) failed to present a firearms expert who had tested the condition of the murder weapon and determined that it was not working properly. Following our review, we affirm the denial of relief.


TN Attorney General Opinions

Interpleader Actions by Real Estate Brokers as Unauthorized Practice of Law

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-01-14

Opinion Number: 8


Bredesen, Slatery Ask Biz Community to Support Judicial Selection Amendment

Former Gov. Phil Bredesen and Herbert Slatery, counsel to Gov. Bill Haslam, today called on Nashville's business community to actively support a proposed amendment to Tennessee's Constitution regarding the selection of appellate judges. At a Tennessee Business Roundtable gathering, Bredesen and Slatery painted a picture of the amendment's alternative — politicized and paid-for judicial elections that would undermine the legitimacy of legal decisions. Slatery also told the group that Haslam's administration intends to run a public campaign on the issue tentatively called "Vote Yes on 2." The Nashville Post has more.


General Sessions Judge to Retire

Davidson County General Sessions Judge Gloria Dumas will not seek re-election to a third term for medical reasons, the Tennessean reports. Dumas, who was first elected in 1998, has been criticized in recent years for her record of absenteeism and tardiness, although her attorney said the controversy didn’t play any role in Dumas’ decision to retire at the end of this term. Attorneys Allegra Walker and Vince Wyatt have said they plan to run in the Democratic primary for Dumas’ Division IV seat in General Sessions Court.


Judge Kennedy to Run for Re-election

Judge Randy Kennedy announced his intention to seek re-election to Division 7 of the Davidson County Circuit Court. Kennedy was elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2006 after having been appointed by Gov. Phil Bredesen in 2003. “It has been my honor and privilege to serve our fellow citizens over 10 years," Kennedy in a press release. "I have endeavored to fulfill my duties with integrity, fairness and education. I hope to be given the opportunity to continue assisting our community in this vitally important area of law for many years to come."


Melton Announces Bid for Public Defender

Sixteenth Judicial District Public Defender Gerald L. Melton has announced his candidacy for re-election. The public defender for Rutherford and Cannon counties is responsible for representing indigent persons who are accused of committing criminal offenses, “thereby fulfilling the right to counsel as provided by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article One Section Nine of the Constitution of the State of Tennessee,” Melton stated.


5 Submit Petitions for 13th Judicial District Posts

A number of 13th Judicial District offices will be up for election this year including chancellor, circuit court judge for parts I and II, criminal court judge for parts I and II, general sessions judge for parts I and II, circuit court clerk, district attorney general and public defender. Petitions filed so far include Ronald Thurman for re-election as chancellor; Amy Hollars for circuit court judge, part I; Randall A. York for circuit court judge, part II; Bryant C. Dunaway for district attorney general; and John Milton Meadows for public defender. The Herald Citzen has the story. 


Ramsey, Harwell Support Chamber’s Policy Agenda

The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry today received positive feedback and support from House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey when it unveiled its legislative priorities to a group of state lawmakers. The state business group’s policy agenda for this session puts a premium on continued Common Core implementation as well as aligning higher education programs with business needs, noting that the lack of qualified and skilled workers is the biggest concern among businesses in the state. The Nashville Business Journal has more.


Lawmakers File Bill to Block Health Care Act

State Sen. Mae Beavers and three House Republicans today released a bill designed to stop President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, the Tennessean reports. The bill would block the state and local governments from buying health insurance through the federal website, Healthcare.gov, and possibly make it illegal for state contractors to buy insurance on the exchange, even for their own employees. The bill is sure to face formidable legal questions since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the core of the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, and past attempts to stop the health care law in Tennessee have run aground because of the well-established constitutional principle that state laws cannot trump federal laws.


Lawmakers Want to Review Prison Population Study

The Senate State & Local Government Committee asked correction officials to pause their work with the Vera Institute of Justice, a think tank focused on the criminal justice system. The institute has proposed studying the state's rising prison population, with a goal of finding ways to slow its growth, the Tennessean reports. The study would be done at no cost to the state, but senators said they would prefer to put off the work until the Senate Judiciary Committee and other panels with oversight of the department could review the arrangement.


Community Service Group Formed for Lawyers

The Lions Club of Rutherford County will sponsor the first charter night of the Murfreesboro Downtown Barristers Lions Club, a new community service club for law professionals. Chancellor Robert E. Corlew III, who has been involved with the Lions Club for 35 years, approached retired judge Steve Daniel about establishing the club. “Our shared vision is that, with the incorporation of seasoned lawyers and judges, there’d be the opportunity for development and mentoring for younger attorneys and at the same time, continue legal education to improve their abilities and service to our community,” says Daniel, who is president of the new club. Meetings will be held at 5 p.m. every second Tuesday of each month in the Rutherford County Courthouse. The Daily News Journal has the story.


TJC Seeks Help, Donations After Flooding

A burst sprinker pipe flooded the Tennessee Justice Center on Friday, and the TJC is now seeking help recovering from the damage. The TJC is requesting donations of new or gently used furniture, especially conference room tables and chairs, bookshelves, and office desks and chairs. Volunteers are also needed to help organize. If you have questions or want to help, please email Kristin at kware@tnjustice.org or visit the TJC's Facebook page.


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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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