YLD Recognizes CASA, Other Volunteers

YLD President David McDowell presented Star of the Quarter awards to five young lawyers during the TBA’s 2014 Leadership Conference this past weekend. Honored were Katrina Atchley Arbogast, Justin Faith, Steven King, Chaz Molder and Tommy Santel. Arbogast was recognized for her service as chair of the Children's Issues Committee and for overseeing the 10th Anniversary celebration of the YLD’s CASA Volunteer of the Year Award; Faith and Molder were recognized for their work on the YLD’s most recent issue of Tennessee Young Lawyer; and King and Santel were honored for planning the group’s Transactional CLE in Nashville and Memphis. In addition, Arbogast presented the 2014 CASA Volunteer of the Year Award to Jack McNew of Harriman. McNew volunteers with CASA of the Ninth Judicial District, which serves children in Loudon, Morgan and Roane counties. See photos from the event.

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


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


Donald K. Vowell, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeffrey L. Beeler.

Jennifer Caywood Schmidt, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, DeRoyal Industries, Inc. and Travelers Insurance Company.


An employee alleged that he sustained a gradual aggravation of a preexisting lower back condition during the eleven months he worked for his employer. The employer denied the claim, contending that the employee’s condition and symptoms were merely the natural progression of an injury that he had suffered many years earlier. The trial court found for the employer and dismissed the complaint. The employee has appealed that decision, asserting that the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s decision. Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, 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. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


J. Matthew Kirby and Laura S. Martin, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union City.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter; Alexander S. Rieger, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellant, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Second Injury Fund.

Jeffrey A. Garrety and Charles Holliday, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Bessie Cawthon.

Judge: ASH

An employee sustained a work-related injury to her shoulder while working as a licensed practical nurse at her employer’s hospital. After returning to work in a modified-duty position for several months after a second shoulder surgery, the employee elected to have knee replacement surgery to remedy pre-existing arthritis that was unrelated to her work. Unfortunately, the knee replacement surgery caused the employee to develop “foot drop.” The employee subsequently exhausted her available leave time because of a prolonged recovery, and the employer terminated her employment. The employee filed the present action seeking permanent total disability benefits. The trial court initially found that the employee had a meaningful return to work and capped her award at one and one-half times her anatomical impairment. The court, however, granted the employee’s motion to alter or amend and found that she did not have a meaningful return to work and that she was permanently and totally disabled. The trial court apportioned the award between the employer and the Second Injury Fund, and both parties appealed. We conclude that the employee is not permanently and totally disabled and that she made a meaningful return to work after her shoulder surgeries. We therefore reverse the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


Jennifer S. White, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Marty Phillips d/b/a Phillips Concrete and Erie Insurance Exchange.

Daniel B. Minor, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellee, Samuel Arthur Skaggs.

Judge: WADE

The employee was injured when a concrete grinder he was operating exploded, breaking his jaw and several teeth. After his jaw was surgically repaired and he underwent extensive dental treatment, the employee did not return to work for his employer. The employee filed an action in the Chancery Court for Sullivan County seeking permanent disability benefits. The trial court found that the employee sustained a permanent vocational disability of 35%. The employer appealed, claiming that the trial court erred by failing to exclude the testimony of the treating dentist and by finding that the employee sustained any permanent disability. Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, the appeal has been referred to a Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Gerald T. Eidson, Rogersville, Tennessee, for the appellant, James D.

Daniel G. Boyd, Rogersville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Jeffrey H. and Kimberly H.

Jack Marecic, Rogersville, Tennessee, guardian ad litem.


This is a parental termination appeal brought by the incarcerated biological father. The child at issue was placed with the petitioners shortly after her birth five years ago. The trial court found clear and convincing evidence to support the ground for termination and clear and convincing evidence that such termination was in the child’s best interest. The father appeals. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


C. Scott Taylor and W. Tyler Chastain, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, United States Metal Powders, Inc.

David T. Black and Andrew S. Trundle, Maryville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Michael Jeffries and Shirley Marie Davis.


This appeal arises from a dispute concerning an employment contract between United States Metal Powders, Inc. and Plaintiffs, who claimed that they were owed vacation and severance pay when the company ceased production and sold its assets. United States Metal Powders, Inc. denied that Plaintiffs were owed vacation and severance pay. Following a bench trial, the trial court awarded severance pay but denied the claim for vacation pay. United States Metal Powders, Inc. appeals. We affirm the decision of the trial court and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


P. Richard Tally, Dandridge, Tennessee, for the appellant, Steven Matthew Messer.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; C. Berkeley Bell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Kim Morrison, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Steven Matthew Messer, appeals the Hamblen County Criminal Court’s denial of judicial diversion for his convictions of statutory rape. Discerning no error, we affirm.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Kevin L. Loper, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Corey Tarvin.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Lance Pope, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Petitioner, Corey Tarvin, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2007 conviction for first degree murder and resulting life sentence. The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel because counsel (1) denied him the right to subpoena witnesses, (2) failed to investigate adequately and hire an investigator, (3) advised him not to testify, (4) failed to impeach a key witness and request a related jury instruction, and (5) failed to present evidence that he suffered from macular degeneration. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

TN Attorney General Opinions

Confidentiality of Workers’ Compensation Policy Information

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-01-21

Opinion Number: 11

Governor’s Office Accepting Applications for General Sessions Judgeship

The Governor’s Office is accepting applications to appoint and commission a special judge for the General Sessions Court of Sullivan County, Division IV. Current Judge Watson has asked to be placed on medical disability status. All interested attorneys residing in Sullivan County should submit a resume and cover letter to the governor’s office by Feb. 7. Download the vacancy notice for more information.

Child Support Magistrate Sworn In Today

Melissa Moore was sworn in as Child Support Magistrate for the 4th Judicial District during ceremonies this morning at the Sevier County Courthouse. Moore will begin her term on Feb. 1. TBA President Cindy Wyrick made brief remarks at the ceremony. The 4th Judicial district serves Cocke, Grainer, Jefferson and Sevier counties. Read more from the Jefferson County Post.

Legislator Calls TSU President’s Speech 'Racist'

Sen. Jim Summerville, R-Dickson, walked out of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day banquet hosted by the Dickson County NAACP after what he calls “racist” remarks by Tennessee State University President Dr. Brenda Glover. Glover, who earned a law degree from Georgetown University, described a “selfish government and cruel electorate” that she said has shown disdain for President Barack Obama because of his skin color. At that point, Summerville said, he got up and left. In an interview Monday night with the Tennessean, he described that portion of Glover’s speech as bigoted and false. Glover disputed the characterization and said she has reached out to Summerville to discuss it.

Senate Panel Rejects Student Voter ID Bill

The Senate State and Local Committee rejected a bill this week that would allow students at public colleges and universities to use their campus identification cards to vote. The panel voted 7-2 against SB 1082/HB 0252, which would have amended the voter ID law that the Tennessee General Assembly passed less than three years ago. Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, the Memphis Democrat who sponsored the measure, argued that the voter ID requirement has been a burden to students because they often do not have driver’s licenses. The Tennessean has more.

Proposed Bill Allows Skipping Lunch Break

Republican lawmakers have filed legislation that would give workers the option of waiving their 30-minute lunch break currently required under state law, the Tennessean reports. Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, said his intent is merely to give workers the option of bypassing the 30-minute unpaid break that almost everyone working at least a six-hour shift must take. Critics, including House Democrats, blasted the bill Tuesday saying it would take away an important workplace safety requirement and create a work environment in which employers could strong-arm workers into skipping meal breaks.

Supreme Court to Review Cell Phone Searches

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review whether warrantless searches of the contents of cell phones violate the Constitution. The justices granted review in two closely watched cases: Riley v. California, stemming from a decision by the California Court of Appeal, and U.S. v. Wurie, an appeal from a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The Blog of the Legal Times has more.

PD Announces Bid for Re-election

Gerald L. Melton, public defender for the 16th Judicial District, has officially announced his candidacy for re-election, the Cannon Courier reports. The 16th Judicial District is comprised of Rutherford and Cannon Counties. Melton said that his motto as Public Defender is, "Protecting the public by defending the Constitution," adding that "this task is more important today than ever before."

Services Saturday for Memphis Lawyer

Memphis attorney Lyman Christian (Chris) Harrell III died Jan. 15. The Washington & Lee las school graduate was 76. The visitation will be at Grace St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Memphis Saturday at noon, immediately followed by funeral services at 1 p.m., the family says.

Shelby County Attorney Suspended

The Board of Professional Responsibility suspended Sharon K. Anderson's law license on Jan. 21 for entering a guilty plea to fraudulent transmission of money. Download the BPR notice.

Shelby County Lawyer Reinstated

The law license of David Gregory Hays was reinstated on Jan. 17. He had been temporarily suspended on Dec. 9 for failing to respond to the Board of Professional Responsibility regarding a complaint of misconduct. Download the BPR notice.

Alabama Lawyer Placed on Disability Inactive Status

Carol Hardwick Stewart was transferred to disability inactive status on Jan. 21. Stewart cannot practice law while on disability inactive status, but may return after reinstatement by the Tennessee Supreme Court upon showing clear and convincing evidence that the disability has been removed and she is fit to resume the practice of law. Download the BPR notice.

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Questions, comments: Email us at TBAToday@tnbar.org

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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