Supreme Court Clarifies Rule on Amending Complaints

In a unanimous opinion, Michael S. Becker et al v. Ford Motor Company, the Tennessee Supreme Court has held that state law allows a plaintiff to add a defendant whose involvement was raised by the original defendant, even when the plaintiff was aware of the new defendant before the statute of limitations expired. Learn more from the Administrative Office of the Courts.

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
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

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TN Supreme Court


Court: TN Supreme Court

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


S. Denise McCrary, Holly J. Renken, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Martin Julius Pantik

Rachel L. Lambert, Arlington, Tennessee, for the appellee, Mildred Joan Pantik


This appeal involves the jurisdiction of the Shelby County courts over a petition for an order of protection. The petition was originally filed in general sessions court, but it was transferred by consent to circuit court, where another matter was pending between the parties. Thereafter, the circuit court denied a motion to transfer the petition back to general sessions court but sua sponte granted permission to seek an interlocutory appeal pursuant to Rule 9 due to a perceived conflict between two statutes addressing the courts’ jurisdiction. We granted the application for an interlocutory appeal and now affirm the decision of the circuit court. This case is remanded to the circuit court for further proceedings.

MICHELLE RYE, and her Husband, RONALD RYE v. WOMEN’S CARE CENTER OF MEMPHIS, MPLLC d/b/a RUCH CLINIC, a Tennessee for-profit Limited Liability Company, and DIANE LONG, M.D.

Court: TN Court of Appeals


Gary K. Smith and C. Philip M. Campbell, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michelle Rye and Ronald Rye.

William H. Haltom, Jr., and Margaret F. Cooper, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, Women’s Care Center of Memphis, MPLLC d/b/a Ruch Clinic and Diane Long, M.D.


This interlocutory appeal concerns the trial court’s grant of partial summary judgment to the Defendant/Appellee medical providers on various issues. The Plaintiff/Appellant couple filed a complaint for damages stemming from the medical providers’ failure to administer a RhoGAM injection during wife’s pregnancy. The couple alleged causes of action for compensatory damages associated with medical malpractice, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and disruption of family planning. The trial court granted summary judgment to the medical providers on the wife’s claim for future medical expenses, husband’s claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress, and the couple’s claim for disruption of family planning. The trial court declined to grant summary judgment on wife’s physical injury claim, her negligent infliction of emotional distress claim, and the claim that wife could present evidence of the disruption of her family planning as evidence in her negligent infliction of emotional distress claim. We reverse the trial court’s grant of summary judgment on wife’s claim for future medical expenses associated with future pregnancy and husband’s claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress, which he may support with evidence concerning the disruption of the couple’s family planning. The trial court’s ruling is affirmed in all other respects. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Marcus Deangelo Lee, Memphis, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel E. Willis, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Muriel Malone, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

On December 11, 1995, appellant, Marcus Deangelo Lee, pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to sell, possession of a deadly weapon with the intent to employ it during the commission of a crime, and the sale of cocaine. The trial court sentenced appellant to serve concurrent sentences of three years, one year, and three years, respectively, in the county workhouse. After numerous unsuccessful attacks on his convictions, on December 3, 2012, appellant filed a motion to correct clerical errors entitled “Motion to Correct Clerical Errors in the Judgment or Entry that Renders the Judgments Void Nunc Pro Tunc.” The trial court determined that appellant’s motion was time-barred and dismissed the motion. On appeal, appellant alleges that: (1) the trial court made a clerical error in appellant’s judgments; (2) the trial court erred by failing to vacate his judgments under the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure; and (3) his judgments should be corrected in accordance with Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 because he received illegal sentences. Following our review of the parties’ briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.


Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Joseph S. Ozment (on appeal) and Larry Copeland (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marquest Mays.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; Jennifer Nichols and Carrie Shelton, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Marquest Mays (“the Defendant”) was indicted for first degree felony murder during the perpetration of aggravated child abuse and aggravated child abuse. A competency hearing was held, and the trial court found that the Defendant was competent to stand trial. The Defendant proceeded to trial, and a jury found him guilty on both counts. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to life imprisonment on the first degree murder conviction and dismissed the aggravated child abuse conviction. In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the trial court erred when it declared him competent to stand trial; (2) the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict; and (3) the trial court prevented him from presenting a defense when it excluded expert testimony regarding his vulnerability to giving a false confession. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

TN Attorney General Opinions

Authority of County Mayors

Court: TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2014-03-07

Opinion Number: 28

Reeves Sworn In, Will Begin Work Immediately

Pam L. Reeves was sworn in Monday as the new judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. Chief U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan said Knoxville attorney Pamela Reeves was sworn in outside her new chambers in a private ceremony and expects to immediately begin hearing cases. The Senate voted 99-0 last week to confirm Reeves to the judicial post. She replaces U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Phillips, who retired last July. Reeves was the Tennessee Bar Association's first female president. has more.

Youth Courts Train Teens in Hamilton Co.

About 40 students gathered in Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Robert Philyaw's courtroom on Saturday to train to be on the county's new Youth Court, one of 16 diversionary programs in the state that allows non-violent, first-time offenders the opportunity to have their cases heard by a jury of kids their own age. In Chattanooga, the program is supported by the Hamilton County Juvenile Court, Miller & Martin PLLC and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and administered by the Tennessee Bar Association. Miller & Martin partner Randy Wilson tells the Times Free Press that 25 lawyers are volunteering time. Philyaw says he hopes to increase the court members 120 and to have the first actual court session with two cases in April and have a monthly session thereafter. Denise Bentley, the TBA's Youth Court coordinator, says fewer than 7 percent of respondents who participate in Tennessee youth courts re-offend within a year.

Memphis Lawyer Appointed to State Board

Odell Horton Jr., a partner with the Memphis law firm Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs has been appointed to the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee. The board, which consists of nine lawyers from each of the state’s disciplinary districts plus three non-lawyers from each of the state’s grand divisions, considers and votes on disciplinary actions against attorneys and delivers ethics opinions regarding rules of professional conduct. The Commercial Appeal has more.

'Bloody Sunday' Remembered in Light of New Voting Laws

Thousands of people gathered in Selma, Ala., on Sunday to honor the 49th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," when civil rights marchers were beaten by law enforcement officers on the city's Edmund Pettus Bridge. Outrage over the melee helped galvanize support for the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Speakers at the annual event, including the son of Martin Luther King, put the focus on the death of the preclearance provision and a slate of new voting laws, including photo voter ID requirements, being rolled out across the country. The Times Free Press has the story and a picture.

Defamation Law Changed 50 Years Ago with Sullivan

It has been 50 years since the Supreme Court of the United States’ decision in The New York Times v. Sullivan. This decision marked a profound change in the law of defamation, Jackson lawyer Dale Conder writes in an editorial for the Jackson Sun. Before Sullivan, defamation actions were strictly matters of state law, but this case changed that by declaring that the First Amendment’s protections of speech and the press limit a state’s power to award damages to a public official claiming a citizen or the press defamed him. For more on the history of libel law from 1964 through 1989, read this Tennessee Bar Journal article by Nashville lawyer John P. Williams, published when Sullivan was just 25 years old.

Drug Courts See Successes

Cookeville area lawyers, judges and others involved in the 13th Judicial District Drug Court celebrated the graduation of the four members of its first class last week, according to the Herald-Citizen. So far, there have been 31 people recommended by the District Attorney’s office in the district to go into treatment. There are 17 in the treatment facility and 10 in outpatient status. Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Seth Norman oversees the Drug Court. Nearby in Coffee County, drug court executive director Mike Lewis and other drug court officials run “Recovery Academy” -- an outlet for youth who have slipped off the educational tracks and are in danger of not getting a high school diploma. Judge Tim Brock serves as the drug court judge and often refers youth to the Recovery Academy, which began last November. The Tullahoma News has this story.

Court Conference Focuses on Building Pro Bono Efforts

The Tennessee Supreme Court's Access to Justice Commission today hosted the Second Annual Pro Bono Clinic Conference at the Downtown Nashville Public Library. The conference drew dozens of individuals representing current legal clinic providers and others interested in starting a legal clinic in their areas. The event included panel presentations and round-table discussions addressing topics such as recruiting attorney volunteers, publicizing clinics, reports from local clinics and other lessons learned. Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder and ATJ Commissioner Tony Seaton were among the presenters.

James Pulls Out of Hamilton Circuit Race

Stuart James, the only Democrat who had qualified to run for an open seat in Hamilton County Circuit Court, has dropped out of the race. "The reasons are many," James wrote in his announcement, "just suffice it to say as a political realist I know the odds are against winning a race that has little public interest." James would have faced the winner of the May 6 primary contest between Catherine White and J.B. Bennett, both Republicans. The Times Free Press reported the news.

More Involved Women Shaping Political Landscape

On Davidson County's May primary ballot, 19 of the registered candidates in 39 races are women. Fox17 looks at how female voters and candidates increasingly are helping to shape the political landscape both locally and nationally.

Longtime Memphis Attorney Dies

W. Thomas “Tom” Hutton died March 4 at the age of 70. A gradate of the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, Hutton served with the Memphis law firm of Martin, Tate, Morrow & Marston PC for 43 years. He was a fellow of the Memphis Bar Foundation, Tennessee Bar Foundation, American Bar Foundation and the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial be made to Memphis University School, Second Presbyterian Church or the charity of the donor’s choice.

Knoxville Lawyer Robert Cagle Dies

Robert Hunter Cagle, 81, died Tuesday (March 4) in Knoxville. He was a 1957 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. After clerking for a U.S. District judge and serving as a U.S. attorney in Nashville, he returned to practice law in Knoxville with the firm of Poore, Cox, Baker and McAuley, where he practiced for 26 years. In 1987, he joined the firm of Kennerly, Montgomery and Finley and retired from active practice in December 2004. Read more about him on

Memorial Held for Memphis Lawyer

A memorial service for Memphis lawyer Charles A. Sevier was held March 6 at Westy’s Restaurant and Bar. He died Feb. 25 at the age of 78. A fixture in Memphis legal circles for more than 50 years, Sevier was known by his friends and colleagues for his piercing intellect, blunt conversational style, and complete lack of pretense. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, gifts be sent to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Memphis.

Vandy Law Hosts 'Justice at Risk' Conference

Judicial selection and the role money plays in judicial elections will be the focus of a conference held at Vanderbilt Law School March 20-21. Titled “Justice at Risk: Research Opportunities and Policy Alternatives Regarding State Judicial Selection,” the conference will focus specifically on how the method of selecting state judges affects judicial decision making. It is jointly sponsored by the American Constitution Society, the American Judicature Society, and Vanderbilt Law.

ABA Offers Retirement Benefits for the Legal Sector

Looking for a retirement plan for yourself or your employees? The ABA Retirement Fund provides unique, full service 401(k) plans specifically for the legal community. By leveraging the assets of its 3,800 client firms, the ABA plan offers packages typically available only to large corporations. For more information contact a regional representative at (800) 826-8901 or visit


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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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