Journalist, Political Figure John Seigenthaler Dies

John Seigenthaler, legendary Tennessee journalist, political figure, intimate confidant to two near-presidents and fierce advocate for racial equality, died today at his home surrounded by family. He was 86. A Nashville native, Seigenthaler served as editor and publisher of the Tennessean for almost 30 years. Under his leadership, the newspaper covered historic events such as the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins and the early swearing-in of then Gov. Lamar Alexander. On the national scene, Seigenthaler served as an advisor to former Attorney General Bobby Kennedy and former Vice President Al Gore. He was active in the Freedom Rides movement and negotiated a deal with then-Alabama Gov. John Patterson that state troopers would protect students participating in the rides. A four-time published author, Seigenthaler also founded the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University in 1991.

Visitation will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday at the John Seigenthaler Center on Vanderbilt University's campus. A funeral mass will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the Cathedral of the Incarnation on West End Ave. The Tennessean and News Channel 5 have profiles of his life.

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
01 - 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

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TN Workers Comp Appeals


Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals


Nicholas S. Akins and J. Allen Callison, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Food Lion, LLC.

Ronald J. Berke, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Judy McClendon.


Employee settled her workers’ compensation claim in 1997, with her employer agreeing to provide future medical benefits. Her authorized treating physician later retired, and in November 2007, the employee selected a new physician from a panel provided by her employer. The new physician recommended a home exercise program, which the employee believed was not adequate treatment. She filed a petition requesting a new panel of physicians. Her employer opposed the petition, contending that it had provided treatment in accordance with the law and the terms of the settlement. The trial court ordered the employer to provide a panel of orthopaedic surgeons to evaluate the employee’s current need for treatment. The employer has appealed, and 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 pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment of the trial court and remand for further proceedings.

TN Court of Appeals


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Jeffery S. Frensley, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Connie Hayes.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Joseph F. Whalen, Acting Solicitor General, John W. Dalton, Senior Counsel, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Civil Service Commission.


This appeal involves the termination of a State employee. The employee was late for work on numerous occasions prior to and throughout 2010. She sustained an at-work injury in October 2010. On January 15, 2011, she was tardy for work and a termination proceeding was commenced shortly thereafter. Prior to her receipt of the letter recommending termination, the employee tendered a request for FMLA leave, which leave was approved after termination was recommended, but before termination was confirmed. The Civil Service Commission affirmed the employee’s termination. The Chancery Court affirmed the employee’s termination and it dismissed her interference with FMLA claim. We affirm.


Court: TN Court of Appeals


Al H. Thomas and Aaron L. Thomas, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, Myrtle Robinson and Willette Jeffries, as the personal representatives of Fannie Oliver Zinn.

Jennifer S. Harrison and Lauren Dunavin Callins, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Kenneth A. Okpor, M.D. and Memphis Lung Physicians, P.C.


This is a medical negligence/wrongful death case. Following their mother’s death, Appellants’ filed the instant lawsuit against several doctors who provided treatment to their mother. During discovery, Appellants allegedly learned that the Appellee physician had amended his original consultation report to correct a mis-diagnosis of the Decedent’s condition. Appellants were granted leave to amend their complaint to add the Appellee and his medical practice as defendants to the lawsuit. The amended complaint naming the Appellees was filed some five years after the filing of the original lawsuit. Appellees moved for summary judgment on the ground that the statutes of limitations and repose barred Appellants’ case. The trial court granted summary judgment, finding that the Appellants had not shown facts sufficient to establish fraudulent concealment on the part of the Appellee physician so as to toll the applicable one-year statute of limitations and three-year statute of repose under Tennessee Code Annotated Section 29-26-116. The trial court also found that Appellants had failed to exercise due diligence in discovering the alleged fraudulent concealment. Appellants appeal. For the reasons stated herein, we affirm and remand.

TN Court of Criminal Appeals

CORRECTION: The only change to the preceding corrected opinion was as to the trial judge. From "Mary Beth Leibowitz" to "Walter C. Kurtz, Judge."

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals


Michael R. Tabler (on appeal); and John E. Eldridge (at post-conviction hearing), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Reginald Fowler.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Kyle Hixson, Assistant Attorney General; Randall Eugene Nichols, District Attorney General; and TaKisha Fitzgerald and Leland Price, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: PAGE

Petitioner, Reginald Fowler, was convicted of aggravated arson following a bench trial, and he was sentenced to twenty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Following an unsuccessful direct appeal, he filed the instant petition for post-conviction relief raising the following issues: (1) whether he was denied a fair trial due to the alleged impairment of the trial judge; (2) whether ineffective assistance of trial counsel rendered his waiver of a jury trial involuntary; and (3) whether trial counsel’s assistance was ineffective by failing to present the testimony of a pharmacologist at trial. After an evidentiary hearing, the postconviction court denied relief. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

National Group to Launch Campaign Against Justices

Recent developments in the retention election of three Tennessee Supreme Court justices raise "red flags for high spending" in the state, Justice at Stake said today. Public records show that the campaigns to retain Chief Justice Gary Wade and Justices Cornelia Clark and Sharon Lee have raised a total of $598,262 and have spent $107,610 buying television ads in the Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville media markets. JAS also reports that the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) – the national conservative group that earlier this year financed a campaign against a North Carolina justice – registered with the state elections board on July 10, presumably to begin spending money in the state. News Channel 5 has more on that story in a piece today that quotes a RSLC spokesperson who says the group is getting involved because "Tennesseans deserve to know the liberal record and ideology" of the justices.

Direct Mail Attack Urges Defeat of Justices

The Tennessee Forum has launched a direct mail campaign urging voters to remove Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade and Justices Connie Clark and Sharon Lee from office. The mailing depicts the three as “liberal justices who do not represent our values” and links them to President Barack Obama. On one side of the flyer is a picture of a judicial gavel and the headline, “Drop the hammer on our liberal Supreme Court.” The group's leader, Susan Kaestner, said the mail piece had been posted to addresses statewide and should be arriving in most mailboxes today. The justices' campaign responded to the move saying it "typifies the political attack on our nonpartisan Tennessee Supreme Court." Knoxnews has more.

Ramsey: Won't 'Sit on Sidelines' as Justices Seek Support

Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said Wednesday he has no intentions of “sitting on the sidelines” while members of the state Supreme Court try and earn yes votes in the August retention election, TriCities reports. Ramsey spoke out a day after Chief Justice Gary Wade told the Bristol Herald Courier that Ramsey’s campaign to oust him and fellow justices Connie Clark and Sharon Lee is “disconcerting” and “disturbing.” Ramsey said the retention election flies under the radar of most voters because it takes place only every eight years but the fact that voters are involved makes the justices fair game in the political arena.

Number of Shelby County Candidates Poses Challenges

The sheer number of judicial candidates running in Shelby County and ethics rules that limit campaigning is making it difficult for voters to distinguish between candidates, the Commercial Appeal reports. Because the county does not hold judicial primaries, its general election ballot will include 81 candidates seeking 40 judgeships spread across six different courts. Voters also have to decide to retain or replace 23 judges in the statewide retention election. Speaking at a candidate forum recently, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen summed up the feeling of many who are overwhelmed by the prospect of a ballot with more than 100 candidates on it when he said, "This is a hell of a process.”

Democrats Unveil Bill to Reverse Hobby Lobby Decision

National Democrats have introduced legislation to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision by exempting federally mandated health benefits, such as contraception coverage, from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Nashville Business Journal reports. The Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act would prohibit for-profit companies from using religious beliefs to deny employees' coverage for contraceptives or any other essential health benefit required under the Affordable Care Act.

GOP Moves Forward with Obama Suit

U.S. House Republicans took the initial step yesterday to sue President Barack Obama over the administration’s decision to delay the employer mandate of the health care law. Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced that Republicans had released a draft resolution that would authorize the House to file suit amid GOP criticism that the president has declined to faithfully execute the laws of the country. Boehner’s actions on the lawsuit come as some Republicans are demanding the far more formidable step of impeachment. The Jackson Sun has more.

Judge Allows Meningitis Case to Proceed

U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel dismissed a request by Saint Thomas Hospital for summary judgment in a court case focused on the hospital’s role in the deadly meningitis outbreak in 2012. If approved, the request would have ended the case without a trial. Zobel’s decision now means that plaintiffs’ lawyers can investigate defendants’ documents and ask the defendants questions under oath. The Tennessean has more.

Lawyer Warns of New Phone, Email Scam

A Memphis lawyer was scammed out of $40,000, Local Memphis reports. Attorney Wes Fowler said he received a phone call claiming his sister would be arrested if he did not pay $800. Although Fowler did not follow through, the criminals were able to gather enough information about him to send a fake email to his bank requesting a $40,000 money transfer to an account in New York. There have been other victims of similar scams across the country, according to reports. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is investigating the case and has alerted the Secret Service and FBI.

Memphis Bar Foundation Seeking Grant Applications

The Memphis Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the Memphis Bar Association, is seeking grant applications from 501(C)(3) organizations that advocate and support public awareness of the legal profession; promote social justice; promote legal education; or recognize professionalism among members of the bar. Applications are available by contacting Anne Fritz at (901) 527-3575 or Deadline for submitting proposals is Aug. 15.

Federal Bar Marks Civil Rights Milestone

U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier, the senior federal judge in Chattanooga, spoke at the Federal Bar Association’s 50th anniversary civil rights celebration this week. Hundreds of people – blacks, whites, attorneys, students and professionals – listened to speeches, freedom songs and soul-moving music to commemorate the event, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. “Civil rights didn’t happen by magic,” Collier told the crowd. “People made tremendous sacrifice. That’s why we come to celebrate.”

Memphis Legal Clinics Need Volunteers

The Memphis Saturday Legal Clinic will be held tomorrow (July 12) from 10 a.m. to noon at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library. Volunteer attorneys, especially with family law experience, are still needed. Those interested in helping are encouraged to arrive by 10 a.m. In addition, lawyers are needed for the weekly Courthouse Advice & Counsel Clinic (formerly known as the Attorney of the Day Clinic) held every Thursday from 1:30-4:30 p.m. in Room 134 of the Shelby County Courthouse. Volunteers talk to pro se litigants in General Sessions Court about procedural issues and how to present their case. For more information about that opportunity contact Linda Warren Seely or David Cook.

Health Insurance Exchange Now Available Through TBA

Fast and easy health insurance enrollment is now available through the TBA Health Insurance Exchange operated by JLBG Health. Affordable health insurance coverage is important, but getting it can be complicated, frustrating and expensive. The TBA Health Insurance Exchange can help make the whole process simpler and easier to navigate.


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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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