Court requests comments on IOLTA petition

The Tennessee Supreme Court today released for comment a proposal to adopt changes to the Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA) Program filed in late November by the Tennessee Bar Foundation, Tennessee Bar Association, Tennessee Association for Justice and Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services. The court has requested comments on the proposal through Feb. 20. The proposed plan would take effect Jan. 1, 2010, giving lawyers and banks time to make necessary changes to their accounts and programs.

"These changes offer a way for the bar to address the huge and growing need for lawyers for the poor," TBA President Buck Lewis said. "At a time when mortgage foreclosures and job losses are putting more pressure on Tennessee families, we may have an opportunity to step up their access to our justice system."

Programs requiring lawyers to participate in IOLTA have been adopted in 38 states while 23 have taken the step -- like that in the proposal -- of enhancing interest comparability provisions of their programs. When adopted in other states, the amount of money raised for legal aid activities has increased a minimum of 50 to 65 percent. Last year in Tennessee the program generated $1.4 million.

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Court: TCA


Allan B. Thorp, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Plaintiff/Appellant Exel Transportation Services, Inc.

Bruce M. Smith and Charmiane G. Claxton, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Defendant/Appellee Inter-Ego Systems, Inc. d/b/a Pinnacle Loudspeakers a/k/a Pinnacle Speakers.

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves a dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction. The plaintiff transportation company has its principal place of business in Tennessee. It provided transportation services and financing to the defendant foreign corporation. The defendant eventually defaulted on payments due to the plaintiff. After negotiations by telephone, fax, and email, the parties agreed to a payment plan to bring the defendant's account current. They executed a letter agreement confirming the arrangement. Subsequently, the Tennessee plaintiff realized that a substantial amount of the services it had rendered to the defendant foreign corporation were inadvertently not included in the letter agreement. The Tennessee plaintiff filed a lawsuit in Tennessee against the foreign corporation, seeking rescission or reformation of the agreement. The defendant foreign corporation filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss, finding that the defendant foreign corporation had not purposely availed itself of the privilege of doing business in Tennessee and did not have sufficient contacts with Tennessee to be subjected to jurisdiction in this state. We affirm, finding that the circumstances do not support the exercise of either general or specific jurisdiction.


Court: TCA


Thomas S. Scott, Jr., and Christopher T. Cain, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Appellants, Steven Hamrick, Trish Hamrick, and Michael Hamrick, individually and as Administrators of the Estate of Mary Katherine Hamrick, and as Administrators of the Estate of Edward L. Wallace.

Alan M. Sowell and Nathaniel K. Cherry, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Allstate Insurance Company.

James Y. 'Bo" Reed, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, American National Property and Casualty Company.

Judge: LEE

This appeal involves questions of uninsured motorist ("UM") insurance coverage under three separate policies of insurance. Mary Katherine Hamrick, the administrator of the estate of her late father, Edward Wallace, was killed in a vehicular accident while driving a car owned by Mr. Wallace's estate. Ms. Hamrick's children brought this action against the alleged tortfeasor and served notice of their claims to UM benefits under three policies: (1) Mr. Wallace's personal automobile insurance policy, issued by Allstate Insurance Company; (2) Mr. Wallace's personal umbrella insurance policy, issued by Allstate Insurance Company; and (3) Ms. Hamrick's personal automobile insurance policy, issued by American National Property and Casualty Company ("ANPAC"). Upon review, we affirm in part and reverse in part. We affirm the judgment of the trial court that Ms. Hamrick did not have UM coverage under the express provisions of the Allstate insurance policies at issue because: (1) Ms. Hamrick was not driving the car "with permission" of the named insured under Mr. Wallace's auto insurance policy because he had been dead for nearly four years at the time of the accident, and (2) Ms. Hamrick did not fall under the definition of "insured" under Mr. Wallace's umbrella policy. We also affirm the trial court's judgment that Allstate was not barred by principles of waiver or estoppel to deny coverage under its policies. We reverse the judgment of the trial court that Ms. Hamrick did not have UM coverage under her automobile policy because she is defined by the policy, without qualification, as being an "insured person" and, therefore, entitled to UM coverage under the express terms of her policy.


Court: TCA


C. Timothy Crocker, Daniel E. King, and Michael A. Carter, Milan, Tennessee, for the appellant Kevin Eugene McDaniel.

Ryan B. Feeney, Selmer, Tennessee, for the appellee Autumn Laine McDaniel.

Judge: KIRBY

This is a divorce case. The parties were married in 2004, had one child in early 2005, and separated in late 2005. The wife filed a complaint for divorce soon after, and the husband counterclaimed for divorce. During the separation, the wife was the primary residential parent. The wife took various prescription medicines for several conditions, and had previously been addicted to pain medication. At the time of trial, the husband was cohabiting with a young woman whom he began dating when she was seventeen years old. During a substantial portion of the husband's scheduled parenting time, the parties' minor child was in the care of either the husband's parents or the husband's paramour. At trial, the wife testified as to the amount of her annual income, but proffered no documentary proof or other evidence. The trial court designated the wife as the primary residential parent, reduced the husband's residential parenting time, and used the amount of income to which the wife testified to set the husband's child support obligation. The husband appeals. He argues that the trial court erred in designating the wife as the primary residential parent, in reducing his residential parenting time, and in failing to impute to the wife the income level set forth in the child support guidelines. We affirm.

CORRECTION appears on page one (1), listing Connie Reguli as Pro Se party

Court: TCA


Connie Reguli, Brentwood, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Juan G. Villasenor, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


This appeal arises out of a domestic action wherein attorney Connie Reguli was held in criminal contempt for allegedly instructing her client, the father of the parties' child, to disregard an order that awarded the mother overnight parenting time. Ms. Reguli appeals her conviction on numerous grounds. We have determined the conviction must be reversed on two grounds. The order, which was an oral command proclaimed from the bench, is neither specific or unambiguous concerning when the mother's overnight parenting time would occur; therefore, an essential element of contempt, that of specificity, is missing. Further, the evidence is insufficient to establish that attorney Reguli instructed her client to violate the trial court's order.


Court: TCCA


Rick L. Stacy, McMinnville, Tennessee, for the Petitioner, Margie J. Farley.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; Ann Filer, Assistant District Attorney General Pro Tempore, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


A Warren County jury found the Petitioner, Margie J. Farley, guilty of facilitation of first degree felony murder, facilitation of especially aggravated robbery, and criminally negligent homicide. The trial court sentenced her to an effective thirty-seven year sentence, and this Court affirmed her convictions. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, claiming that she failed to receive the effective assistance of counsel at trial. The post-conviction court denied her relief, and she now appeals. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the post- conviction court's judgment.


Court: TCCA


Gregory D. Smith, Clarksville, Tennessee (on appeal); Roger E. Nell, District Public Defender, and Ann Marie Kroeger, Assistant Public Defender (at trial), for the appellant, Terrell E. Payne.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; John Wesley Camey, Jr., District Attorney General; and Jason Christian White, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The defendant, Terrell E. Payne, appeals from the Robertson County Circuit Court's probation revocation for his ten-year sentence for possession of less than one-half gram of a Schedule II controlled substance with intent to resell, a Class C felony. He claims that the trial court erred in revoking his probation and ordering him to serve his sentence in confinement. We hold that the trial court did not abuse its discretion, and we affirm its judgment.


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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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