TBA legislative package carries initiatives in 5 areas

The Tennessee Bar Association legislative package this year contains initiatives in five broad areas, with eight bills already introduced to carry them out. A new construction lien law, a complete probate package, family law legislation, and bills dealing with ethics in lawmaking and judicial selection are all on tap. Read more about the legislation at the address below and watch TBA Today for stories and updates on this legislation and other measures on which the TBA is lobbying on your behalf.


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Howard H. Vogel
Knoxville, Tennessee
Editor-in-Chief, TBALink

Corrected Opinion

Court: TCA


Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., of Los Angeles, CA, Thomas H. Dupree, Jr., of Washington, D.C., Lawrence A. Sutter, of Franklin, TN, and Joy Day, of Franklin, TN, for the Appellants

Gail Vaughn Ashworth, of Nashville, TN, James E. Butler, Jr., of Atlanta, GA, George W. Fryhofer III, of Atlanta, GA, and Leigh Martin May, of Atlanta, GA, for the Appellees


This appeal comes from a wrongful death action brought by the parents of an infant child who died from injuries suffered in an automobile accident. In 2001, the mother was one of several passengers involved in a collision in which a man, driving his pickup truck and speeding, rear- ended the minivan occupied by mother and her infant son. The plaintiff parents' infant son suffered a fatal injury when his head collided with the head of another occupant of the vehicle, who was seated in the passenger seat directly in front of the child and whose seat fell backwards during the accident. The mother and father of the deceased child brought suit against the manufacturer of the minivan and the man who drove the truck that struck the minivan. The parents' claims against the manufacturer were for wrongful death of their son as a result of the manufacturer's defective design of the front seat backs in the minivan and failure to warn of the defect, and the mother also brought a claim against the manufacturer for negligent infliction of emotional distress as a result of witnessing her son's injury. The jury found for the parents and awarded them $5 million in compensatory damages for the wrongful death claim, and awarded the mother $2.5 million for her negligent infliction of emotional distress claim. The jury also found that the manufacturer had acted recklessly and was liable for punitive damages. The trial court bifurcated the trial, and the jury returned a $98 million punitive damages verdict against the manufacturer. The trial court remitted the punitive damage award to $20 million. The manufacturer filed a timely notice of appeal to this Court alleging several errors at trial: that the parents' complaint contained an invalid ad damnum clause; that the plaintiff mother had not satisfied the proof requirements for a negligent infliction of emotional distress claim; that there was insufficient evidence of recklessness to support an award of punitive damages; that the trial court improperly recognized a post-sale duty to warn in Tennessee; numerous evidentiary errors and alleged discovery abuse warranting a mistrial; and excessive damage awards. We affirm in part and reverse in part.



Court: TCA


Wanda G. Sobieski, Diane M. Messer, and Cynthia L. Chapman, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Lyubov M. Lee

J.D. Lee, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, David C. Lee


Lyubov M. Lee (Wife) and David C. Lee (Husband) were married in May of 1995, and divorced in May of 2003. The parties have one child, an eight year old son. The divorce was contentious, at best, and this behavior continued following the divorce. When the divorce was granted to Wife, the Trial Court ordered Husband to pay Wife's attorney fees of $65,000. The parties' continuing inability to agree on anything resulted in numerous post-divorce motions being filed, including petitions for contempt filed by both parties. Husband paid a total of $20,000 of Wife's post-divorce attorney fees. This appeal involves Wife's request for an additional $28,845 in post-divorce attorney fees. Following a hearing, the Trial Court refused to award Wife any additional attorney fees. The Trial Court also stated that it would not hear any future requests for attorney fees. Wife appeals. Finding no abuse of discretion, we affirm the Trial Court's judgment refusing to award Wife any additional attorney fees already incurred by the time of that hearing. However, we vacate that portion of the Trial Court's judgment holding that neither party could file a request for attorney fees in the future.



Court: TCA


Carlton B. Parks, Chattanooga, Tennessee, pro se Appellant

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; and Mary M. Bers, Senior Counsel, for the Appellees, State of Tennessee, Douglas A. Meyer, William H. Cox, III, and David W. Denny

Judge: LEE

The issue we address in this appeal is whether the trial court erred in granting the Defendants' motions to dismiss the Plaintiff's complaint, on grounds that the statute of limitations had run and that the Defendants were immune from liability under the doctrines of sovereign immunity, judicial immunity, and prosecutorial immunity. We hold that the trial court correctly found that the complaint was time-barred by the applicable statute of limitations, and that under the facts presented, the Defendants were entitled to absolute immunity from suit. We therefore affirm the judgment of the trial court.



Court: TCA


James R. Wheeler, Jonesborough, Tennessee for the Appellants, Michael A. Bawgus, C. Alan Longmire, and Carolyn Lindsey King

Rick J. Bearfield, Johnson City, Tennessee for the Appellees, Joseph W. Shew, Jr., Nyoka Shew, Kenneth L. Lewis, and Shirley A. Lewis


Joseph W. Shew, Jr., Nyoka Shew, Kenneth L. Lewis, and Shirley A. Lewis (Plaintiffs) sued Michael A. Bawgus, C. Alan Longmire, and Carolyn Lindsey King (Defendants) seeking, in part, a declaratory judgment holding that an easement over Defendants' properties is thirty feet wide, or in the alternative, a judgment that the easement in its present state is unsafe and, therefore, Plaintiffs are entitled to a prescriptive easement thirty feet in width. After a bench trial, the Trial Court entered a Judgment finding and holding, inter alia, that the easement in question is thirty feet in width, or in the alternative, that an easement by prescription has been acquired by continued hostile, open, actual, and exclusive use of the easement by Plaintiffs and their predecessors in title since the establishment of the driveway within the easement in approximately 1950. Defendants appeal to this Court. We reverse.



Court: TCCA


Robin Farber, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Alvin W. Allen

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; C. Daniel Lins, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Bottoms, District Attorney General; and Christi Thompson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee

Judge: OGLE

After a bench trial, the Maury County Circuit Court convicted the appellant of child rape and sentenced him to twenty years in confinement. In this appeal, the appellant claims (1) that the trial court erred by refusing to suppress his statement to police, (2) that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction, and (3) that his sentence is excessive. Upon review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.



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Knox Term Limits
Commission rejects call for special election
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