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TODAY'S OPINIONS
Click on the category of your choice to view summaries of today’s opinions from that court, or other body. A link at the end of each case summary will let you download the full opinion in PDF format. To search all opinions in the TBALink database or to obtain a text version of each opinion, go to our OpinionSearch page. If you have forgotten your password or need to obtain a password, you can look it up on TBALink at the TBA's Membership Central.

00 - TN Supreme Court
01 - TN Worker's Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
06 - TN Court of Appeals
02 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
00 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR

You can obtain full-text versions of the opinions two ways. We recommend that you download the Opinions to your computer and then open them from there. 1) Click the URL at end of each Opinion paragraph below. This should give you the option to download the original document. If not, you may need to right-click on the URL to get the option to save the file to your computer. 2) Do a key word search in the Search Link area of TBALink. This option will allow you to view and save a plain-text version of the opinion.

ROY SAMUEL BATSON v. INTERSTATE BRANDS CORP. et al.

Court: TWCA

Attorneys:

D. Russell Thomas and Herbert M. Schaltegger, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Roy Samuel Batson.

Kitty Boyte (on appeal) and Patrick A. Ruth (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Interstate Brands Corporation and Indemnity Insurance Company of North America.

Judge: BLACKWOOD

This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The trial court denied appellant Roy Samuel Batson's claim for workers' compensation benefits on the basis that Mr. Batson failed to establish that his disability was caused by his work. Mr. Batson has appealed. After our review of the record, we agree with the trial court that Mr. Batson has failed to carry his burden of proof with respect to causation. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court denying Mr. Batson's claim for benefits.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC_WCP/2009/batsonr_021909.pdf


LARRY BIELFELDT. v. DON TEMPLETON and RUBY TEMPLETON

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Homer R. Ayers, Goodlettsville, TN, for the Appellant.

Jerome Michael Converse, Springfield, TN, for the Appellees, M. Don Templeton, Ruby Templeton.

Judge: STAFFORD

This case arises from a dispute over a contract for the sale of land. In the contract, Appellee Sellers made no warranty concerning the exact acreage of the tract. Appellant Buyer was given the right to have the tract inspected and surveyed prior to closing; however, he did not exercise that right. At the closing, Appellant also executed a waiver to any claims arising from a determination that the assumed acreage was incorrect. A survey performed after the closing indicated that the tract was approximately three acres less than the parties thought. Appellant Buyer brought suit against Appellee Sellers on grounds of fraudulent misrepresentation. Finding no error, we affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/bielfeldtl_021909.pdf


O'RANE M. CORNISH, SR. v. MARK CALDWELL, ET AL.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

O'Rane M. Cornish, Sr., Pro se.

Bradford D. Box and Spencer R. Barnes, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellee Mark Caldwell.

Judge: FARMER

This is an action for wrongful death and loss of consortium. The trial court dismissed the action upon determining it was filed beyond the one-year statutory limitations period. We affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/cornisho_021909.pdf


HEATHER LYNN HARRIS v. TROY DANIEL HARRIS

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Thomas J. Dement, II, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Troy Daniel Harris.

James L. Collier, Nashville, Tennessee, for appellee, Heather Lynn Harris.

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal involves a post-divorce petition to modify transitional alimony. In the divorce decree, the husband was ordered to pay the wife transitional alimony for four years. The wife remarried during the four-year period. The husband petitioned the trial court to modify or terminate the transitional alimony based on the wife's remarriage and the new husband's financial contributions to the wife's household. After a hearing, the trial court reduced the husband's transitional alimony payments and shortened the duration of the alimony by one year. The husband now appeals, arguing that the trial court should have terminated his alimony obligation entirely, rather than simply reducing it. We affirm, finding that the trial court's decision was not an abuse of its discretion.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/harrish_021909.pdf


THE ESTATE OF CHARLES THOMAS McCRAW, Deceased v. JoAN LIKINS

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Thomas M. Minor, Somerville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Beverly McCraw, Executrix of the Estate of Charles Thomas McCraw.

Lee S. Saunders, Somerville, Tennessee, for the appellee, JoAn Likins.

Judge: FARMER

This appeal arises from a decedent's testamentary obligation to distribute his estate in accord with a marital dissolution agreement. The trial court determined that the decedent's codicil obligated his estate to pay joint debts that the decedent incurred with his fiance', and his estate could not seek contribution from fiance' for paying more than half of the debts. The trial court also determined that this distribution did not violate the marital dissolution agreement that decedent had negotiated with his ex-wife. We affirm the trial court on these two determinations. We, however, reverse the trial court's finding that the estate was not required to reimburse fiance' for payments that she made on the debts after the decedent's death and before the trial court ordered the estate to pay the debt.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/likinsj_021909.pdf


JOSEPH ALAN PETERS v. SHARON OLENE (COATS) PETERS

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Chadwick G. Hunt, Savannah, Tennessee, for the appellant, Sharon Olene (Coats) Peters.

Dennis W. Plunk, Savannah, Tennessee, for the appellee, Joseph Alan Peters.

Judge: FARMER

The Wife in this divorce action takes issue with the grounds upon which the trial court granted the divorce, the distribution of marital property, the calculation of Husband's monthly income and the designation of life insurance. We affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/petersj_021909.pdf


REGIONS FINANCIAL CORPORATION, a Successor to UNION PLANTERS CORPORATION AND SUBSIDIARIES v. MARSH USA, INC., ET AL.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

John McQuiston, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Regions Financial Corporation.

H. Frederick Humbracht, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA.

John R. Riddle, Dallas Texas, Joseph T. Getz, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, The St. Paul Mercury Insurance Company, and Michael G. McLaren and Vickie Hardy Jones, MemphiTennessee, for the appellee, Twin City Fire Insurance Company.

Judge: FARMER

On appeal, Regions Financial Corporation ("Regions") asserts numerous reasons why the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel should not bar its claim against the Defendants National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pa. ("National Union") St. Paul Mercury Insurance Company ("St. Paul"), and Twin City Fire Insurance Company ("Twin City") (collectively "Defendant Excess Insurers"). Regions originally sued Defendants in federal court seeking indemnification pursuant to its insurance contract, and the District Court granted Defendants summary judgment because Regions failed to give simultaneous notice. Regions has now sued Defendant Excess Insurers in circuit court for breach of the same insurance contract. Regions claims that during the federal court appeal it discovered new evidence that it had given simultaneous notice to Defendant Excess Insurers through their agent. Regions claims, however, that it could not have discovered this evidence earlier because Defendant Excess Insurers concealed the agency relationship. The trial court granted Defendant Excess Insurers' motions for summary judgment on the basis of res judicata. We affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/regionsfinancialcorp_021909.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RICKY TERRELL COX

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Scott A. Lovelace, Ripley, Tennessee (at trial), and Ryan B. Feeney, Selmer, Tennessee (on appeal), for the appellant, Ricky Terrell Cox.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and James Walter Freeland, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Ricky Terrell Cox (hereinafter "Cox"), was convicted by a jury of three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, a Class A felony, especially aggravated burglary, a Class B felony, attempted second degree murder, a Class B felony, aggravated assault, a Class C felony, and unlawful possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, a Class E felony. He was sentenced to twenty-two years at one hundred percent for the three especially aggravated kidnapping convictions and four years at thirty percent for the aggravated assault convictions, to be served concurrently. He was also sentenced to nine years at thirty percent for the especially aggravated burglary conviction, nine years at thirty percent for the attempted second degree murder conviction, and eighteen months at thirty percent for the unlawful possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, which were to be served concurrently to one another but consecutively to the especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault convictions, for an effective sentence of thirty-one years. On appeal, Cox argues that (1) the trial court erred by admitting his prior juvenile conviction for impeachment purposes, (2) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, (3) the State failed to prevent or correct the false testimony of two of the State's witnesses, and (4) the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentencing. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/coxr_021909.pdf


EARL D. KING V. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Earl D. King, Pro Se, Tiptonville, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Frank Borger-Gilligan, Assistant Attorney General; and Weakley Barnard, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WELLES

The pro se Petitioner, Earl D. King, appeals from the Marshall County Circuit Court's summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner seeks relief from his eighteen-year sentence resulting from his guilty pleas to two counts of burglary and one count of vandalism. The Petitioner alleges that he was sentenced in violation of Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004), because the trial court applied enhancement factors not found by the jury in establishing his range and in increasing his sentence above the minimum. The post-conviction court summarily dismissed the petition for failing to state a colorable claim. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/kinge_021909.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
Legislative News
TBA Convention 2009
Upcoming
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Third applicant files for 14th Judicial District court
Tullahoma lawyer Charles Craig Northcott with Van Cleave & Northcott PC has submitted an application to fill the vacancy in the 14th Judicial District Circuit Court created by the death of Judge John W. Rollins. He joins fellow Tullahoma lawyer James F. Conley with Thomas, Copeland, and Bell and Manchester lawyer Mark A. Williams with Fisher & Williams PLC in seeking to fill the seat. Applications are due Feb. 26. The Judicial Selection Commission will interview applicants on March 24.
Get details on the application process from the AOC
911 operators given authority to sign warrants
Bradley County emergency operators have been authorized to sign probable cause warrants after business hours when court clerks are not available. County Mayor D. Gary Davis said the move will be temporary unitl the county commission develops a permanent solution. The dispatchers will be considered judicial commissioners but will not set bonds or perform any other functions of a magistrate.
Learn more in the Daily Banner
Study: nation's crime labs in disarray
A new report from the National Academy of Sciences says the nation's crime labs are in disarray and require a wholesale overhaul. The report recommends divorcing crime labs from law enforcement agencies as well as creating a new federal agency to fund scientific research, develop basic standards, accredit labs, and certify expert witnesses and forensic analysts.
Read more in the LA Times
Economy impacts new prisons
Prison officials say the sluggish economy is affecting plans for new correctional facilities in Tennessee. At the new 2,400-unit, $155 million Morgan County Correctional Complex, 612 units will not be readied for use and in Trousdale County, work has been temporarily suspended on a new 2,000-bed prison.
Learn more in the Oak Ridger
Obama urged to create detainee commission
A growing chorus of voices is calling on President Barack Obama to appoint a presidential commission to investigate the Bush administration's treatment of detained terror suspects. Obama thus far has resisted calls to review the prior administration's record, saying he wants to focus instead on developing new policies.
WTVC News has this AP story
Hamilton judges speak out on truancy
Several Hamilton County judges are speaking out on the issue of school truancy, saying the county's dropout rate is significantly higher than the state average and that does not bode well for the juvenile justice system. A new study by the Tennessee State University found that students charged with truancy are more likely to commit other juvenile crimes than students who stay in school.
Read what the judges are saying on Chattanoogan.com
Global plaintiffs group forms to handle Madoff suits
Attorneys from law firms in more than 20 countries will work together to pursue some 22,200 possible claims related to the $50 billion fraud Bernard Madoff is accused of operating. The lawyers represent banks, hedge funds, public bodies and individual investors, and are expected to focus most of their claims against third parties rather than Madoff or his companies. The group is headed by Javier Cremades, president of the Spanish law firm Cremades Calvo-Sotelo.
Read more in the London Times
Maury moves forward on judicial center
Maury County commissioners this week approved funds to draw up construction plans for a new judicial center. The 120,000-square-foot center is expected to cost about $28.4 million and be paid for through an increase in property taxes. It will feature seven courtrooms, two judges suites, security features to keep inmates separate from the public, and a 400-space parking garage, reports the Columbia Daily Herald.

Legislative News
House panel recommends gun measures
The state House's Hand Gun Study Committee has recommended that people with handgun permits be allowed to carry weapons into restaurants where alcohol is served but only until 11 p.m. The proposal also would maintain a ban on drinking alcohol by those carrying guns and ban all guns from establishments that have age limits. The committee also recommended passage of measures to close public access to the state's handgun registry database and to allow handguns in parks and wildlife areas. The bills are scheduled to be heard by a House Judiciary subcommittee next Wednesday.
Learn more in the News Sentinel
TBA Convention 2009
Baker, Ford to provide insight on key topics
What does America need to do to get back on track? It's a question asked during the presidential campaign, and one that has become even more compelling as the country struggles with economic recession. You can hear former Senator Howard Baker and former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. bring their experience and insight to the topic during this year's TBA Annual Convention in Memphis, June 18-20. This program is just part of a well-rounded slate of educational programming and entertaining events you'll be able to take part in when you register for the TBA Convention.
Find out more about this year's programming or register today
Upcoming
Race to raise money for MALS
The University of Memphis School of Law Student Bar Association will host a 5k run/walk the morning of April 4 to kick off the TBA's day-long and state-wide 4ALL Public Service Day. The Race Judicata will begin at the Mason YMCA at 3548 Walker Ave. near the university, and all proceeds will benefit the work of Memphis Area Legal Services. Registration is at 8 a.m. Race starts at 10 a.m. For more information contact Omar Malik at omalik@memphis.edu.
Download a race registration form or a sponsorship form

TBA Member Services
CompuPay offers deals for TBA members
CompuPay is proud to serve as the official payroll services provider for the Tennessee Bar Association. To serve Tennessee attorneys the company is offering two months of free payroll processing for all TBA members and waiving set up fees for members with up to 99 employees.
Learn more about CompuPay's benefits

 
 
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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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