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Court: TCA


W. Andrew Yarbrough, Waynesboro, TN, for Appellant.

Paul A. Bates, Lawrenceburg, TN, for Appellee.


The plaintiff wife and the defendant husband were married in 1984, and they had four children during the marriage. In February of 2005, the wife sued the husband for divorce, alleging inappropriate marital conduct and irreconcilable differences. A trial was held in June of 2006, after which the trial court adopted the wife's proposed division of marital property and awarded the wife $10,000, representing a portion of her attorney's fees. The division of property included an award to the wife of a house bought by the husband prior to marriage, a reimbursement to the wife for one- half of the expenditures she incurred repairing and furnishing the house during the proceedings, and a one-half interest in a certificate of deposit held jointly by the parties containing a worker's compensation settlement obtained by the husband during the marriage. On appeal, we affirm.



Court: TCA


Ricky L. Wood, Parsons, Tennessee, for the appellant, Michael Hayes.

Charles N. Griffith, Waverly, Tennessee, for the appellees, Donald W. Washburn and Wife, Doris L. Washburn.


In an action for breach of contract, the trial court held that the contract was valid and enforceable yet declined to enforce its terms because to do so would, in the trial court's opinion, unjustly enrich one party. The trial court reached this conclusion based on its finding that the parties' agreement in the contract regarding one party's contribution to the project was not substantiated by the party; i.e., the party did not prove that he contributed $63,000 as agreed by the parties in the contract. We reverse. Once it is found that a valid contract exists, the contract should be interpreted as written, parol evidence may not be introduced to vary its terms, and unjust enrichment may not be used to alter contractual terms.



Court: TCA


Phillip Robinson, Philip E. Smith, and Thomas F. Bloom, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Elizabeth Duncan MacRae Hodge.

Michael W. Binkley, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Roger Alan Hodge.


The parents of three minor children obtained a divorce, and a permanent parenting plan was approved in 2003. Two years after the foregoing judgments had become final and without any petition being filed to invoke the court's jurisdiction over the final decrees previously rendered the trial court entered a sua sponte Order appointing a Special Master to preside over what the order described as "a high conflict case between the parents over the love and affection of the minor children." The sua sponte Order afforded the Special Master exceptional powers, including the authority to modify the Permanent Parenting Plan and to resolve all conflicts between the parents arising out of the parenting plan. The Order included the directive that the Special Master"s decisions were "effective as orders when made." We have determined the trial court lacked the right to exercise its jurisdiction because all matters previously in dispute had been fully adjudicated, the decrees previously rendered had become final judgments two years earlier, and neither party had filed the requisite petition (complaint) and summons to afford the trial court the right to exercise its "exclusive jurisdiction" over the domestic decrees it had previously entered. We, therefore, vacate the Order of Reference and any derivative orders arising therefrom.



Court: TCA


Phillip L. Davidson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Chris Jones.

S. Todd Bobo, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Bedford County, Tennessee.


A former inmate of the Bedford County Jail alleges in this negligence action under the Governmental Tort Liability Act that he was sexually assaulted by a corrections officer employed by the sheriff's department and that the county is liable due to the negligent acts and omissions of supervisory personnel of the sheriff's department for "failing to properly supervise" Correctional Officer Raymur when the County "knew, or should have known of his sexually oriented behavior." The trial court summarily dismissed the claim upon a finding there was no evidence the sheriff's department knew or should have known that it was reasonably foreseeable the corrections officer would sexually assault the plaintiff. We have concluded the record contains facts sufficient to create a dispute of fact as to the issue of foreseeability. Therefore, we vacate the summary dismissal of the plaintiff's claim for negligent supervision and remand for further proceedings.



Court: TCA


Lee Borthick, Springfield, Tennessee, for the appellants, Christy King Spain (Hudson) and Wanda Faye King.

John M. Cannon, Goodlettsville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Margaret Ann King.


This case involves a dispute over the division of proceeds from the sale of a failed business venture. The trial court referred certain matters to a special master for determination. The special master made several specific findings, but left issues open to be decided by the trial court. The trial court adopted the findings of the special master and made no additional determinations. Appellants appeal. We must dismiss this appeal because there is no final order resolving all the claims between the parties and remand the matter back to the trial court for further determinations.



Court: TCA


Timothy P. Underwood, Pulaski, Tennessee, for the appellant, Virginia Grace Massey-Holt.

Robert D. Massey, Pulaski, Tennessee, for the appellee, Stacy Wade Holt.


This is a post-divorce modification case. The parties' divorce judgment, which was entered on November 3, 2004, was based upon their Marital Dissolution Agreement and an agreed Permanent Parenting Plan. Under that plan, Virginia Grace Massey-Holt ("Mother") was designated as the primary residential parent of Noah Wade Holt (DOB: August 26, 1999) and Joshua Thomas Holt (DOB: April 30, 2002). In the instant proceedings, Stacy Wade Holt ("Father"), filed a petition seeking to be named the children"s primary residential parent and asking that the "parenting time be adjusted." Following a hearing, the trial court named Father as the primary residential parent and adjusted the residential parenting time. Mother appeals. We reverse, reinstate the trial court's previous designation of Mother as the primary residential parent, and adopt Mother's proposed Permanent Parenting Plan.



Court: TCCA


Albert J. Newman, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Steven L. Smith.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jennifer L. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Philip H. Morton, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The petitioner, Steven L. Smith, appeals from the Knox County Criminal Court's dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction for burglary of a business. He was sentenced to seven years as a Range II, Multiple Offender. The petitioner contends the trial court erred in dismissing his petition without a hearing after he moved for a continuance. We reverse and remand the case for an appropriate evidentiary hearing.



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The News Sentinel has the details
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Read the AP's analysis in the News Sentinel
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Read more about it in the Commercial Appeal
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New assistant U.S. attorneys and one new special assistant U.S. attorney were sworn in Oct. 30 at the James H. Quillen U.S. District Courthouse by U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer. They are: Gregory John Bowman, assistant U.S. attorney in the Greeneville branch office of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee; Donald Wayne Taylor, assistant U.S. attorney in the Johnson City branch office; and Brian Clay Johnson, special assistant U.S. attorney in the Johnson City branch office.
The Greeneville Sun has more
Lawyers named to top spots in Nashville
Nashville's new mayor appointed Sue Cain to be the city's law director and Richard Riebeling to be finance director. Cain was deputy law director when Dean led that department for more than seven years. Riebeling was commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development from 1993 to 1995. He is an attorney by training and a former reporter for the defunct Nashville Banner.
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McMillan's service to community praised
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Bedford County discusses moving judicial offices
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The Shelbyville Time-Gazette covered the meeting
TBAToday ran an item on Oct. 25, 2007, relating to a U.S. District Court ruling in John B. vs. Goetz, 98-168 (M.D. Tenn.). Attached as a link, in addition to a link to the opinion, was a summary by the Tennessee Justice Center. TBAToday did not indicate in the item that Tennessee Justice Center is a party in that litigation.

ABA President-elect Tommy Wells to visit Nashville
Tommy Wells, president-elect of the American Bar Association, will visit Nashville on Nov. 7, at the invitation of Lipscomb University's Law, Justice and Society program. Wells' visit will provide lawyers several opportunities to engage with the organized bar. Events include a conference on plumbing the leaks in the diversity pipeline, a luncheon featuring an address by Wells on the core values of the profession, a series of dialogues with bar and judicial leaders and a reception honoring Wells at the Tennessee Bar Center.
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Let the Games Begin
TennBarU is teaming up with the TBA Sports & Entertainment Law Section to present a new seminar that will help you stay current on important issues facing your clients today, such as music licensing, distribution agreements, use of musicologists in copyright infringement cases, and a class action against YouTube. Join us Nov. 14 at Belmont University's Curb Event Center for lunch at 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by an informative 4 hour CLE program.
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Keep malpractice claims in check
Legal malpractice claims are increasingly common, and, as virtually all practitioners can attest, reasonable insurance coverage has become more expensive. To help you survive in this climate, TennBarU is offering a 3-hour seminar in Knoxville on Dec. 3, in Nashville on Dec. 4 and in Memphis on Dec. 5, to discuss risk management, recent developments in the area of legal malpractice, recent case law dealing with legal malpractice claims, and the ethical issues implicated by legal malpractice claims.

Take this class for free! With your TBA Complete Membership, three hours of TennBarU programming is prepaid.
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Free online legal research is hot TBA benefit
Online legal research is available free to all Tennessee Bar Association members through an agreement with Fastcase, a leading online legal research firm. The new TBA member benefit is national in scope and offers TBA members unlimited usage, unlimited customer service and unlimited printing -- all at no cost.
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