More firms respond to access to justice challenge

Several more Tennessee law firms have adopted formal pro bono policies this week, pushing the total reported to the TBA to almost 40. The most recent additions are: Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel of Chattanooga and Memphis; Hodges, Doughty & Carson of Knoxville; Bass, Berry & Sims of Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis; Gideon & Wiseman of Nashville; Martin, Tate, Morrow & Marston of Memphis, Mississippi and Arkansas; Salas Slocum Law Group of Nashville; Husch Blackwell Sanders of Chattanooga; Dobbins & Venick of Nashville; and Hardin, Parkes, Kelley & Carter of Columbia. These firms and others who have adopted pro bono policies will be recognized during the TBA's Annual Public Service Luncheon, Jan. 17 at the Tennessee state capitol. Here is a list of all the firms that have so far notified the TBA that they have pro bono policies. If your firm has a pro bono policy or is interested in adopting one, contact the TBA for information.

Learn more about model law firm pro bono policies

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01 - TN Supreme Court
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Court: TSC


Court: TWCA


Marc H. Harwell and Benjamin T. Reese, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Texas Mutual Insurance Company.

Joseph R. White, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellees, HFC Services and Broadband Specialties, Inc.

Thomas L. Wyatt, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Richard Lindsey.

Robert J. Uhorchuk, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellees, Trinity Communications, Inc. and St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company.


In this workers' compensation case, the plaintiff was injured while splicing cable for the defendant subcontractor. The subcontractor did not have workers' compensation insurance, and the plaintiff therefore filed suit against the intermediate subcontractor and cable company for benefits under Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-113. The intermediate subcontractor's workers' compensation insurance carrier, a Texas company, moved for summary judgment, arguing that the trial court did not have personal or subject matter jurisdiction. The defendants also argued that the plaintiff could not recover under Tennessee Workers' Compensation Law because he was an independent contractor and not an employee. The trial court held that the plaintiff was an employee of the subcontractor and a statutory employee of the intermediate subcontractor and cable company, that the trial court had both personal and subject matter jurisdiction over the Texas insurance carrier, and that the plaintiff was entitled to temporary total disability benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, and medical benefits. We hold that the trial court did not have personal jurisdiction over the Texas insurance carrier but that the plaintiff is entitled to recover benefits as an employee of the subcontractor and as a statutory employee of the intermediate subcontractor. Therefore, we reverse in part and affirm in part the judgment of the trial court and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.


Court: TCA


Floyd S. Flippin, Humboldt, TN, for Appellant.

Terri Smith Crider, Humboldt, TN, for Appellant.

Terry Abernathy, Selmer, TN, for Appellee


Appellant purchased a commercial truck from a merchant who dealt in goods of that kind. Before obtaining good title, Appellant entrusted the merchant with the truck to allow the merchant to make agreed upon repairs. While the merchant had possession of the truck, he sold it to the Appellee. Appellant filed suit to recover the truck. The trial court found that Appellee was a bona fide purchaser in the ordinary course of business and that under Tenn. Code Ann. section 47-2-403, Appellant's entrustment of the truck to the merchant provided the merchant the authority to transfer title to the Appellee. Finding no error, we affirm.


Court: TCA


Glenna W. Overton, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Travis Goodman and Stephanie Goodman.

Joe R. Judkins, Wartburg, Tennessee, for the appellee, Kathy Kelly, formerly Kathy Jones.


Travis Goodman and his wife, Stephanie Goodman ("the Buyers"), sued Kathy Jones ("the Seller")seeking rescission and damages based upon theories of fraud, misrepresentation, breach of contract and violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act ("the TCPA"). The TCPA claim was dismissed by the trial court and no issue is raised by the Buyers on appeal regarding the propriety of this action. This suit arises out of alleged defects in a septic system on residential property that the Seller sold to the Buyers. Acting on the Seller's motion, the trial court - at some unidentified time prior to trial - required the Buyers to elect a single remedy from their dually requested relief of rescission and damages. The Buyers chose rescission; accordingly, the case was submitted to the jury as one for rescission only. The court instructed the jury on the Buyers' theory of intentional misrepresentation (fraud) but failed to charge on the theories of breach of contract and non-fraud (negligent) misrepresentation. The jury found in favor of the Seller and the Buyers' suit was dismissed in toto. The Buyers appeal. We affirm the trial court's judgment dismissing the Buyers' request for rescission based upon an intentional misrepresentation. We vacate the remainder of the judgment. In so doing, we hold that the trial court erred in failing to charge the jury with respect to the Buyers' theories of breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation.


Court: TCA


Larry B. Hoover, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellants, WillieAnn Madison and John Madison.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Dennis J. Garvey, Deputy Attorney General, and George S. Bell, III, Senior Counsel, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee ex rel. Little People's Child Development Center, Inc.


WillieAnn Madison and her husband, John Madison ("Defendants"), operated Little People's Child Development Center, Inc. ("Little People's"), a Tennessee nonprofit corporation which provided child daycare services. Over the years, Defendants treated the nonprofit as their for-profit corporation, retaining for their personal use millions of dollars of the nonprofit's proceeds. The Tennessee Attorney General ("the State") filed suit on Little People's behalf seeking to recover money used by Defendants for personal gain. Following a partial summary judgment and then an extended trial, the Trial Court entered a detailed judgment against Defendants for over $2.2 million. The Trial Court, however, dismissed the State's claim seeking compensation for the value of the nonprofit at the time the nonprofit was dissolved and Defendants transferred any remaining assets to their new limited liability company. Defendants appeal claiming various items and amounts should not have been included in the Trial Court's final judgment. The State appeals claiming the Trial Court erred when it dismissed its claim seeking compensation for the value of the nonprofit at the time of dissolution. We affirm the judgment of the Trial Court with respect to the issues raised by Defendants. We agree with the State that the Trial Court erred when it dismissed the State's claim seeking a judgment for the value of the nonprofit at the time of dissolution. The judgment of the Trial Court is, therefore, affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

CORRECTION: Page 4, second full paragraph, third line, "Ms. Hughes" is changed to "Ms. Styles."

Court: TCA


Scott D. Hall, Sevierville, Tennessee, for the Appellants, Ron Blackwood, individually and d/b/a Blackwood Management, Inc. and Universal Management, and Shelley Layne Blackwood, individually and d/b/a Blackwood Management, Inc. and Universal Management.

J. Terry Holland, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Nancy C. Styles.

Judge: LEE

This is a fraud case in which plaintiff Nancy Styles alleged that Ron and Shelley Blackwood fraudulently induced her elderly mother to invest $75,000 in the singing group the Blackwood Quartet with no intention of making any payments on the "investment" or using the money for the asserted purpose of the investment. Following a bench trial, the trial court ruled for the plaintiff, finding that "this is as close to a flim-flam as I've ever seen" and that Mr. Blackwood's testimony was "absolutely unequivocally unbelievable." The trial court rescinded the written agreement memorializing the investment and awarded Ms. Styles $75,000 plus prejudgment interest. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court, finding that in this case the pivotal question of whether the Blackwoods acted with the fraudulent intent not to perform under the agreement was determined in significant part by the trial court's assessment of credibility based on its observation of the demeanor of the witnesses.

CORRECTION In the opinion of State of Tennessee v. Marcus Greer on page 4, "inadmissable" should be "inadmissible".

Court: TCCA


Hershell D. Koger, Pulaski, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marcus Greer.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General; Charles Crawford, District Attorney General; Weakley E. Barnard, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Defendant-Appellant, Marcus Greer (hereinafter "Greer"), was convicted by a Marshall County Circuit Court jury of possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to sell and possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to deliver. The trial court merged the convictions and sentenced Greer to twelve years in confinement. On appeal, Greer argues the following: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motions to redact or suppress his statements; and (2) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. After our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.


Court: TCCA


Joe M. Brandon, Jr., Smyrna, Tennessee, for the appellant, Buford C. Throneberry.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Assistant Attorney General; William C. Whitesell, Jr., District Attorney General; and Trevor Lynch, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WITT

The defendant, Buford C. Throneberry, appeals his conviction of disorderly conduct that followed a bench trial in the Rutherford County Circuit Court. The defendant claims that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction. Because we conclude that the State failed to prove that the defendant's words or actions prevented anyone from carrying on lawful activities, we reverse the conviction and dismiss the charge.


Legal News
Legislative News
TennBarU CLE
Disciplinary Actions
TBA Member Services

Nominations made for constitutional offices
House and Senate Republicans nominated their choices for the state's constitutional offices today, selecting David Lillard Jr. for treasurer, former State Rep. Tre Hargett for secretary of state, and tax attorney Justin Wilson for comptroller. The Democrats have nominated the current three office holders: Comptroller John Morgan, Treasurer Dale Sims and Secretary of State Riley Darnell. The House and Senate will meet in a joint session on Wednesday to elect the three officers.
The Tennessean has more
Legal News
Application process for Judge Stotts' seat begins
The Judicial Selection Commission will soon meet to initiate the process of filling the vacancy in the 30th Judicial District Circuit Court created by the death of Judge Rita Stotts. Applications must be received by the Administrative Office of the Courts by Feb. 3.
For details, go to the AOC web site
Budget crunches may warrant release of prisoners
"Prior to this fiscal crisis, legislators could tinker around the edges -- but we're now well past the tinkering stage," said Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, which advocates alternatives to incarceration. He's talking about policy changes under consideration in many states that likely will remove tens of thousands of offenders from prisons and parole supervision. Collectively, the pending and proposed initiatives could add up to one of the biggest shifts ever in corrections policy, putting into place cost-saving reforms that have struggled to win political support in the tough-on-crime climate of recent decades.
The News Sentinel carried this AP story
Sex offender database 'a hodgepodge,' local sheriff says
Wilson County Sheriff Terry Ashe describes the federal government's sex offender database as "a hodgepodge of local databases ... It's just not balanced, not accurate." Nationwide, a recent report by the U.S. Department of Justice said 22 percent of sex offenders had not been entered into the database. In a random sampling of Tennessee ZIP codes, the national database matched the state's 88 percent of the time.
The Tennessean reports
No surprise: Bankruptcies up
Consumer bankruptcies climbed 26 percent in 2008 compared with the year before in Middle Tennessee, amid a souring economy and as people bucked changes to the bankruptcy law that made it more difficult to file. Nationally, consumers filed nearly 33 percent more bankruptcies than the year before.
Read more from the Tennessean
Madisonville PD to close office, cites lack of money
State revenue shortfalls are forcing the district's public defender to close his office in Madisonville and is threatening to cut the number of attorneys who represent indigent clients. Economic woes have also prompted Public Defender Richard Hughes to explore new funding mechanisms, such as requesting counties in the district to tack on a new court fee to each person who is found guilty of a crime.
The Advocate & Democrat has more
Louisiana gets first female chief justice
As the longest-serving member of the Louisiana Supreme Court, Justice Catherine "Kitty" Kimball was set to make history this morning when she became the state's first female chief justice. Louisiana history, that is. Tennessee has had its first female chief since Sept. 2, 2008, when Justice Janice Holder was administered the oath of office in Nashville.
The Times-Picayune has the story
Possible nominee Kagan: no appellate experience
President-elect Barack Obama said last week he would nominate Harvard Law School President Elena Kagan as solicitor general. If confirmed, she will take up the appointment without a single Supreme Court oral argument in her past -- or, it appears, any other appellate experience. has the story
Legislative News
Ethics complaints filed against GOP officials
Former state Rep. Nathan Vaughn has filed ethics complaints against top Republicans in the House and a criminal charge against an aide, alleging the GOP crossed legal and ethical lines in a fall election campaign that helped give Republicans their 50-49 majority. Vaughn's complaints against Majority Leader Jason Mumpower, Assistant Leader Glen Casada and Scott Gilmer, an advisor to Casada, were sent to the Tennessee Ethics Commission over the weekend.
The Tennessean reports
TennBarU CLE
Webcasts focus on immigration issues
The TBA's TennBarU webcasting program this week offers a pair of programs useful for attorneys who deal with immigration issues. Tuesday's webcast, which begins at noon, will look at "Bond Issues Pertaining to Immigrant Clients: How to Get Immigration Bonds for Detained Clients." Wednesday's program will follow with "The Long Road for the Short and Quick Plea: How the Easy Plea in Criminal Court Can Permanently Ruin Your Immigrant Client's Life." Both programs are 1.5 hours long and feature will Nashville attorneys Sean Lewis, Michael Holly and Mark Daly.
Learn more or sign up now
Disciplinary Actions
Sevier County lawyer censured
On Jan. 5, Sevier County lawyer Brent Edwin Lowe received a public censure from the Tennessee Supreme Court for violating the Rules of Professional Conduct by failing to reimburse a client in the amount of $400.11 after preparing an inaccurate closing statement.
Read the BPR release
Sumner County lawyer suspended
On Jan. 5, the Tennessee Supreme Court suspended the law license of Jocelyn D. Mims pursuant to Section 14 of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 9. The suspension was given in light of Mims' plea of guilty to conspiracy to introduce contraband into a penal facility and attempted introduction of contraband into a penal facility.
Read the BPR release
TBA Member Services
Have you activated your FedEx shipping discounts?
TBA members are entitled to discounts on FedEx shipping. Did you know that TBA members are saving an average of $83 per quarter by utilizing their FedEx Association Advantage program discounts? Here's what some members have to say about their FedEx savings:

"Our firm took advantage of the Tennessee Bar Association FedEx discounts and saved over $200 on FedEx Express shipments last quarter alone. It's the best $200 we've ever saved," says member Bill Cameron of Cameron & Young in Cookeville. Start saving on your shipments today! For more information on how to enroll, call 1-800-923-7089 or
visit the TBA Web site

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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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