Spooked by Hannan: Will Summary Judgment Return?

On Halloween 2008, the Tennessee Supreme Court decided Hannan v. Alltel Publishing Co., stating explicitly for the first time that Tennessee does not follow the federal Celotex standard for summary judgment. Hannan has spooked some lawyers and judges, who fear that summary judgment has joined the ranks of the zombies -- the living dead -- or has become a mere ghost that haunts lawsuits but never materializes. In a TennBarU webcast this Wednesday, UT College of Law Professor Judy Cornett will show that there is no reason to be spooked by Hannan: Summary judgment is no zombie, but is alive and well in Tennessee, and indeed may be more available after Hannan than before.

Find out more or register for this webcast now

TODAY'S OPINIONS
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DAVID ALAN THOMPSON, SR. v. WENDY JANETTE THOMPSON

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Ronald J. Berke and Megan England Demastus, Chattanooga, Tennessee for the Appellant, Wendy Janette Thompson.

David Alan Thompson, Sr., Chattanooga, Tennessee, Pro Se Appellee.

Judge: SWINEY

In this post-divorce action, issues regarding child support were litigated after the Trial Court modified custody. After the trial, the Trial Court sua sponte contacted David Alan Thompson's ("Father") employer and obtained information regarding Father's wages and benefits. The Trial Court entered its order finding and holding, inter alia, that Father was entitled to a judgment against Wendy Janette Thompson ("Mother") for $6,275.13 plus interest for overpayment of child support. Mother appeals to this Court raising issues regarding the sua sponte investigation and the calculation of child support. We hold that the sua sponte investigation did not comply with Tenn. R. Evid. 614. We, therefore, vacate the Trial Court's judgment and remand this case to the Trial Court to receive additional proof, or not, as the Trial Court deems necessary, and then decide all issues based solely upon the evidence as presented by the parties to, and received by, the Trial Court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/thompsond_102709.pdf


WESTERN EXPRESS, INC. v. BRENTWOOD SERVICES, INC. ET AL.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Isham B. Bradley, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Western Express, Inc.

Tara L. Swafford and Wendee Hilderbrand, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Brentwood Services, Inc. and Brentwood Services Administrators, Inc.

Judge: CLEMENT

Western Express, which was one of twenty-nine members of a workers' compensation self-insurance group trust established pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. section 50-6-405(c), appeals the dismissal of its civil action against the former administrator of the now liquidated self-insurance group trust, Brentwood Services, Inc. Plaintiff's claims were dismissed pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The Trust was liquidated in a separate liquidation proceeding wherein the Commissioner of the Department of Commerce and Insurance served as the Liquidator. A settlement entered into between the Liquidator and Brentwood, which resolved all claims common to the members of the Trust, was approved by the Chancery Court and entered in the liquidation action. Following the settlement of the liquidation action, Plaintiff filed this civil action against Brentwood to assert claims Plaintiff believed to be personal or unique to Plaintiff and which were not barred by the Liquidator's settlement with Brentwood. Thereafter, Brentwood filed a Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, contending that the claims asserted by Plaintiff were not personal or unique to Plaintiff, but common to all members of the trust, and that all such claims had been resolved in the liquidation action; alternatively, Brentwood asserted that any claims that were unique to Plaintiff were not sufficiently pled and, thus, should be dismissed. The trial court granted Brentwood's motion, dismissing all claims based upon the reasoning submitted by Brentwood. We affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/westernexpress_102709.pdf


RONNIE JACKSON, JR. v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Charles S. Mitchell, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ronnie Jackson, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Chris West, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WELLES

The Petitioner, Ronnie Jackson, Jr., pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated robbery and two counts of aggravated assault. As part of his plea agreement, he was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to eight years for his aggravated robbery conviction and three years for each of his aggravated assault convictions, those sentences to be served concurrently in the Department of Correction. He now appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court's order denying post-conviction relief, contending that this denial was error because he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and, consequently, entered his pleas involuntarily and unknowingly. Specifically, he contends that trial counsel failed to properly investigate his case and prepare a defense strategy, that trial counsel pressured him into pleading guilty, and that by entering an Alford plea, he believed he could continue to challenge pre-trial constitutional issues. Following our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/jacksonr_102709.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. WILLIAM LEE SMITH

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Stephen M. Wallace, District Public Defender; and Joseph F. Harrison, Assistant District Public Defender, attorneys for appellant, William Lee Smith.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; H. Greeley Wells, Jr., District Attorney General; and James F. Goodwin, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, attorneys for appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, William Lee Smith, pled guilty in the Sullivan County Criminal Court to four counts of reckless aggravated assault and one count of driving under the influence (DUI). Pursuant to the plea agreement, the Defendant agreed to serve two years of his sentence on supervised probation; the manner of service of the remaining four years of his sentence was left to the determination of the trial court which ordered it served in incarceration. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends that he should have been granted full probation or some other alternative sentence for the four-year sentence. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/smithw_102709.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

Celebrate Pro Bono
Legal News
Legislative News
Politics
Resources
TBA Member Services

Celebrate Pro Bono
Back-to-back pro bono events on tap this week
At legal clinics, CLE programs, receptions, lunches, Wills for Heroes and other events this month, attorneys are working to bring attention to the need for pro bono work and to celebrate the thousands of hours that Tennessee lawyers already contribute to bringing access to justice to all Tennesseans. See pictures from events in Chattanooga, Memphis and Franklin. There's still more are on tap for this week, the home stretch of Celebrate Pro Bono Month.
Check the details for an event near you
Legal News
Herenton target of federal criminal probe
Former Memphis Mayor Willie W. Herenton has been informed that he is a target of a federal criminal probe and has complained to U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder that he believes the target letter he received "is grounded solely in politics." He is a candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 9th Congressional District against incumbent Rep. Steve Cohen next year. Herenton says he was informed by the local U.S. Attorney's Office that he is a target of an investigation involving "personal business transactions that I participated in while mayor and which specifically concern a local Greyhound Bus Line property."
The Commercial Appeal has the story
New justice center opens to quiet: no phone service
When the George P. Jaynes Washington County Justice Center opened yesterday there was no phone or internet service, but employees still seemed glad to be in the new facility.
The Johnson City Press reports
Don't give the judge any crap
A man who sneaked a bag of his feces into a San Diego courtroom during his home-invasion robbery trial, smeared it on his lawyer and threw it at jurors has been sentenced to 31 years in prison.
WRCB-TV carried this AP story
Wal-Mart to add flextime to criteria for picking law firms
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to add evaluation of a law firm's flextime policies to its list of criteria for evaluating outside firms, according to Joseph West, an associate general counsel with the retail giant. He said the company plans to add flextime policies to its current list of law firm measures: cost-effectiveness, performance and diversity.
The National Law Journal gives you the details
Legislative News
Rep. Marsh gives Republicans majority on two committees
Pat Marsh was sworn in Monday as 62nd District state representative and was appointed to the House commerce and transportation committees, giving the Republican party majorities on both. The oath of office was administered by State Supreme Court Justice William Koch. Marsh won the District 62 special election held Oct. 13.
The Shelbyville Times-Gazette has a picture and the story
Politics
Rep. Bell announces run for Senate
State Rep. Mike Bell (R-Riceville) announced on Monday that he will be a candidate for the State Senate. He will be seeking to represent District 9 in the Tennessee State Senate, which is made up of Bradley, McMinn, Meigs and Polk Counties. Current State Sen. Dewayne Bunch has decided not to seek re-election.
Chattanoogan.com has more
Resources
Free webinar: Insurance Policy Interpretations
They're fast, effective, and best of all -- they're on the house! Choose from a menu of LexisNexis Coffee Break Webinars -- quick 20- or 60-minute sessions -- and discover powerful tools and proven techniques to help your business be more efficient and cost-effective. On Oct. 29 take the 20-minute course "Strengthen Your Position on Insurance Policy Interpretations," beginning at 11 a.m. Central time.
Register now
TBA Member Services
Think FedEx first
If you've been shipping with other carriers, it's time to switch to FedEx. Not only will you get peace of mind from reliable FedEx shipping, but you can also take advantage of great savings on FedEx shipping as well as FedEx Office services by enrolling in the FedEx member benefits program.
Take advantage of your member discounts on select FedEx shipping services and FedEx Office business services

 
 
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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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