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


Court: TCA


Lorraine Wade, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Steve Biggers.

Mark North, Madison, Tennessee, for the appellee, Transport Services, Inc.

Judge: KOCH

This appeal involves the termination of an independent contractor's contract to provide courier services. The independent contractor filed suit in the Circuit Court for Davidson County alleging that the employer did not have just cause to terminate the contract. After the trial court set aside a default judgment for the independent contractor, the employer filed an answer and a motion for summary judgment. Following a hearing, the trial court granted a summary judgment for the employer after concluding that the undisputed facts demonstrated that the employer had just cause to terminate the independent contractor. On this appeal, the independent contractor insists that the trial court erred by setting aside the default judgment and by determining that the employer was entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. We have determined that the undisputed facts support the trial court's conclusion that the employer was entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.


Court: TCA


Karla C. Hewitt, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, James David Gamble.

Russ Heldman, Nashville, Tennessee, and Kamie L. Hefner, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellee, Susan Marie Gamble.

Judge: KOCH

This appeal involves a dispute over spousal support following the dissolution of a 24-year marriage. The Chancery Court for Williamson County granted the wife a divorce on the ground of inappropriate marital conduct and awarded her $2,500 per month in alimony in futuro. The husband takes issue on this appeal with the trial court's decision to award the wife alimony in futuro rather than rehabilitative alimony and with the amount of the alimony. We have determined that the trial court's decision with regard to spousal support is supported by the record and that the wife is entitled to an additional award for the reasonable and necessary legal expenses she has incurred on appeal.


Court: TCA


Penny Harrington, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Sharon Hunt Matlock.

David D. Wolfe, Dickson, Tennessee, for the appellee, Mark Matlock.

Judge: CAIN

In an action for divorce, Wife appeals the division of the marital debts and assets, the amount of her rehabilitative alimony award, and the court's decision to name Husband primary residential parent of the parties' two minor children. We affirm the judgment of the trial court on all issues except the classification and award of Husband's 401(k) retirement account.


Court: TCA


Peter Paul Mitrano, Merrifield, Virginia, pro se Appellant.

Michael R. Giaimo, Livingston, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Matthan Houser.

Judge: LEE

The trial court dismissed this action for unpaid rent pursuant to the res judicata doctrine, holding that all claims and issues raised by the complaint were or could have been previously litigated in the New Hampshire court system and were resolved in the Defendant tenant's favor. The trial court also granted the Defendant's motion for sanctions under Tenn. R. Civ. P. 11 and ordered the Plaintiff to pay $1,500 of Defendant's attorney's fees. We hold that under applicable New Hampshire law, the judgment entered by a New Hampshire Superior Court dismissing Plaintiff's previous action for unpaid rent against the same Defendant because of Plaintiff's repeated discovery abuses and flagrant disregard of court orders is a judgment on the merits for purposes of the res judicata doctrine. We therefore affirm the trial court's dismissal of this action. However, because we find that the procedural "safe harbor" provisions of Tenn. R. Civ. P. 11.03 were not complied with in this case, we reverse the trial court's award of attorney's fees as sanctions.


Court: TCA


Granville Payne, Nashville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Garrett E. Asher and Emily H. Wilburn, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, W. W. Scott Dube.
Renee Levay-Stewart, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, MidSouth Orthopedic Associates.

Judge: KOCH

This appeal involves a pro se medical malpractice complaint filed against an orthopedic surgeon in the Circuit Court for Davidson County. After the patient took no action for more than one year, the trial court clerk notified him that his complaint would be dismissed if the case was not set for trial within thirty days. When the patient failed to set the case, the trial court dismissed his complaint. The patient then filed a motion to set aside the order of dismissal and requested additional time to retain counsel and to develop a factual basis for the complaint. The trial court declined to set aside the order of dismissal, and the patient appealed. We have determined that the trial court was fully justified in dismissing the complaint given the patient's multiple violations of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure.


Court: TCA


Jeffrey M. Klocko, pro se Appellant.

J. Robin McKinney, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Leslie Roehm Reese.


Leslie Roehm Reese ("Wife") filed a complaint seeking a divorce from Jeffrey Mark Klocko ("Husband"). Husband filed a counter-claim also seeking a divorce. While this litigation was pending, Husband was convicted of sexually abusing his step-daughter and was sent to prison. After Husband was sent to prison, his attorney withdrew from the case. Thereafter, Husband filed a pro se motion seeking to participate in the divorce trial by telephone. The Trial Court never ruled on Husband's motion and proceeded with the trial without Husband being allowed to participate. Husband appeals claiming, among other things, that the Trial Court erred when it failed to rule on his motion seeking to participate in the trial by telephone. We agree with Husband, vacate the judgment of the Trial Court, and remand for further proceedings.


Court: TCA


Dennis W. Plunk, Savannah, Tennessee, and Mary Stewart Nelson, Pelham, Alabama, for the appellant, James A. Massey.

Charles C. Drennon, III, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Linus Thornton.


This lawsuit concerns Plaintiff's claim under the parties' lease agreement for a percentage of the sale price generated by the auction sale of Defendant's real property, and Defendant's counter-claim for payments due on promissory notes. The trial court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff on both the lease claim and counter-claim. We affirm in part, vacate in part, and remand.


Court: TCA


Thomas J. Drake, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ricky Bates d/b/a RB Auto Sales.

Terry R. Clayton, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Robert Turner.

Judge: KOCH

This appeal involves a dispute regarding the consequences of a default in payment of a car note. The purchaser defaulted on the note five months after purchasing the vehicle, and the dealer repossessed the vehicle and resold it. Thereafter, the purchaser filed suit against the dealer in the Davidson County General Sessions Court seeking to recover $3,000 of his $3,400 down payment on the theory that the dealer had wrongfully repossessed and sold the vehicle because he had paid the dealer a $400 "payment in the hole" to be used whenever he failed to make a required payment. The general sessions court awarded the purchaser $3,000, and the dealer perfected a de novo appeal to the Circuit Court for Davidson County. The trial court determined that there had been a miscommunication between the purchaser and the dealer regarding the application of the $3,400 down payment and ordered the dealer either to pay the purchaser $2,000 or to give the purchaser a $3,000 credit toward the purchase of another vehicle from the dealer. The dealer has appealed. We have determined that the plain language of the parties' contract compels reversal of the trial court's judgment.


Court: TCCA


Branch H. Henard, III, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Jacqueline P. Warlick.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; Tom P. Thompson, Jr., District Attorney General; and Linda Walls, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: HAYES

Following a bench trial in the Macon County Criminal Court, the Appellant, Jacqueline P. Warlick, was convicted of driving under the influence and sentenced to eleven months and twenty-nine days in jail, with the sentence being suspended after the service of two days in confinement. On appeal, Warlick argues that her conviction was obtained in violation of her Sixth Amendment right of confrontation, as recognized by Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 124 S. Ct. 1354 (2004), and her right under article I, section 9 of the Tennessee Constitution to "meet the witnesses face to face," as recognized by State v. Maclin, 183 S.W.3d 335, 343 (Tenn. 2006). Specifically, Warlick challenges the admission of the following evidence under Crawford and Maclin: (1) her son's statement, which was admitted as an excited utterance, made at the accident scene to an ambulance attendant that he knew his mother was going to wreck because she had been drinking; and (2) medical records from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, admitted pursuant to the Medical Records as Evidence Act, which contained: (a) Warlick's statement to medical personnel that she had consumed alcohol prior to the wreck; and (b) laboratory results from the hospital indicating a blood alcohol level of "183 mg/dL." Warlick further argues that the trial court erred by allowing a state trooper to testify with regard to the analysis and conversion of the blood alcohol test results. After review, we conclude that the admission of the challenged evidence was not error, as the evidence was not "testimonial" within the meaning of Crawford, and was properly admitted under a "firmly rooted hearsay exception" and bore "particularized guarantees of trustworthiness." See Ohio v. Roberts, 448 U.S. 56, 66, 100 S. Ct. 2531, 2539 (1980). Warlick's issue regarding the testimony of a state trooper is without merit. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Applicability of Tenn. R. Crim. P. 32(f) to General Sessions Court

TN Attorney General Opinions

Date: 2007-05-16

Opinion Number: 07-72


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