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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.

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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.

JESSIE ADAMS v. TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, ET AL.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Jessie Adams, Henning, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General, Kellena Baker, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Correction.

Judge: HIGHERS

This appeal involves an inmate's petition for writ of certiorari, which he filed after he was convicted by the prison disciplinary board of participating in a riot. After reviewing the record, the trial court dismissed his petition. We affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/adamsj_122209.pdf


DRAYTON D. BERKLEY v. HOUSEHOLD FINANCIAL CENTER and BENEFICIAL TENNESSEE, INC.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Plaintiff/Appellant Drayton D. Berkley, Memphis, Tennessee pro se.

Bradley E. Trammell and Robert F. Tom, Memphis, Tennessee for the Defendants/Appellees Household Financial Center and Beneficial Tennessee, Inc.

Judge: KIRBY

This appeal concerns an attempt to obtain the discharge of a debt. The plaintiff attorney executed two promissory notes in favor of the defendants financial institutions. The notes called for monthly payments. Just over a year later, the plaintiff mailed correspondence and a check to the institution's payment processing center. The correspondence offered an amount in excess of the monthly payment in exchange for extinguishing each debt. At the payment center, the envelopes were opened by machine and the correspondence was separated from the checks. The checks were posted to the plaintiff's account. The correspondence was forwarded to another department. The plaintiff made no more payments on the notes, and then filed a complaint for declaratory relief. The defendants answered and counterclaimed for the amount owed under the note. After conducting a bench trial, the trial court dismissed the complaint, granted a judgment on the counterclaim to the defendants, and awarded attorney's fees. The plaintiff appeals. We affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/berkleyd_122209.pdf


DEMITRA GEORGE HUNSINGER v. TONY MICHAEL HUNSINGER

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Andrew M. Cate, Nashville, Tennessee for the Defendant/Appellant Tony Michael Hunsinger.

Laurie Y. Young, Murfreesboro, Tennessee for the Plaintiff/Appellee Demitra George Hunsinger.

Judge: KIRBY

This is a divorce case. The husband and the wife were married for twenty-two years and had four children together, three of whom were minors at the time of trial. The husband worked in real estate, and the wife was as a homemaker, caring for the parties' children. After discovering that the husband was pursuing other relationships on the internet, the wife filed for divorce. After trial, the trial court entered a permanent parenting plan designating the husband as the primary residential parent for the oldest minor child and designating the wife as the primary residential parent for the two youngest children. The trial court also divided the marital estate, allocating the entirety of a substantial tax debt to the husband. Finally, the trial court awarded nominal alimony in futuro to the wife, finding that she needed it but the husband could not pay for it as of the time of trial. The husband now appeals, challenging the parenting plan, the division of the marital estate, and the award of alimony. We affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/hunsingerd_122209.pdf


JOELTON PLANNING AND ZONING COMMITTEE and JERRY STRANGE v. THE METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY, TENNESSEE

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Joe F. Gillespie, Jr., Joelton, Tennessee for the Petitioner/Appellant Jerry Strange.

Sue B. Cain, Lora Barkenbus Fox, and Jeff Campbell, Nashville, Tennessee for the Respondent/Appellee Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee.

Judge: KIRBY

This is a zoning appeal. The zoning applicant owns a tract of land, most of which was zoned for agricultural use. A small portion of the tract, which allowed access to the nearest public roadway, was zoned for residential use. The zoning applicant desired to use the land for a campground, but the municipal code permits campgrounds only on land zoned for agricultural use. Consequently, the zoning applicant applied for a special zoning exception permit for the small residential tract. The rules of procedure for the board of zoning appeals required the zoning applicant to send a notice to nearby landowners, including a meeting place, date and time for interested persons to meet with the zoning applicant prior to the hearing before the board. The zoning applicant circulated a letter of notice with only an email address and a telephone number. After the hearing, the board of appeals approved the application and issued the permit. A community member opposing the permit filed the instant petition for a writ of certiorari, seeking judicial review of the zoning board's decision. The trial court held that the zoning applicant's failure to offer a meeting prior to the board's hearing was a fatal defect in the issuance of the permit. In the alternative in the event of an appeal, the trial court also held that the issuance of the permit for land partially zoned residential was not erroneous because the residential-zoned land would be used only for ingress and egress. The community member appeals. We affirm the trial court's holding that the offer of a meeting was required, and thus vacate the issuance of the permit and remand.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/joeltonplanning_122209.pdf


RONALD LANGLOIS v. ENERGY AUTOMATION SYSTEMS, INC., ET AL.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

G. Kline Preston, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Ronald Langlois.

William Lynn Campbell, Jr. and John R. Jacobson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellees, Energy Automation Systems, Inc. and Joe Merlo.

Judge: FARMER

This appeal arises out of the dismissal of the appellant's claims pursuant to Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure 37.04 and 41.02. The trial court dismissed the appellant's claims with prejudice for failure to prosecute and alternatively for failure to attend several properly noticed depositions. We affirm the dismissal pursuant to rule 37.04 and reverse the dismissal pursuant to rule 41.02.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/langloisr_122209.pdf


OLIN MORRIS, Successor Trustee of the U.A.B. Holding Trust v. MARTIN A. GRUSIN, Former Trustee of U.A.B. Holding Trust, ET AL.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Robert D. Flynn, Michael R. Flynn, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Olin Morris, Successor Trustee of the U.A.B. Holding Trust.

Randall D. Noel, Memphis, Tennessee; Donna Brown Jacobs, John A. Crawford, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee for the appellees, CBC World Markets Corporation and John Ashby.

Judge: HIGHERS

A Trust was created in 1985. In both 1997 and 1999, the grantor consented to the use of the Trust's stocks for the benefit of a separate entity, of which the Trust owned a one-half interest. In 2001, an agreement was entered whereby the Trust's stocks were pledged to a bank in return for a loan to the Trust. The Trust then transferred the loan monies to the separate entity to pay off the separate entity's indebtedness. After the Trustee's resignation, the successor Trustee brought suit, alleging breach of fiduciary duties, civil conspiracy, and misappropriation and conversion. The trial court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss, finding that they had not engaged in unlawful conduct. Plaintiff appeals, and we affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/morriso_122209.pdf


KATHERINE RANGE, ET AL. v. C. M. SOWELL, JR., D.D.S.
Corrected Opinion: On page 1, James Weatherly's status as counsel is corrected. On page 3, paragraph 3, line 3, the reference to Mr. Range filing the complaint is removed.


Court: TCA

Attorneys:

James L. Weatherly, Nashville, Tennessee, counsel for the appellant on appeal, Katherine Range, By Next Friend, Executor/Administrator of the Estate of Katherine Range: Sam Range.

David A. Bates, C. Nicholas Fossett, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellee, C. M. Sowell, Jr., D.D.S.

Judge: COTTRELL

The son of a nursing home patient claimed that the defendant dentist committed battery against his mother by performing dental work on her without obtaining proper consent from either the mother or from the son in his capacity as her attorney-in-fact. The dentist argued that he had operated under a general consent to medical care that the son executed at the time of his mother's admission to the nursing home, that the mother was not injured by the care he provided, and that the statute of limitations barred the son's claims. The trial court granted summary judgment to the dentist. We affirm the summary judgment, but modify that part of the trial court's award of discretionary costs which held the son personally liable for those costs.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/rangek_corr_122209.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
Legislative News
Politics
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Knox law director's son dies in accidental shooting
The 20-year-old son of Knox County Law Director Bill Lockett died at the family's home last night in what investigators say was an accidental shooting. Lockett's son, Trent, was at home with his younger brother when the 11-year old fired a semiautomatic pistol. Neither Lockett nor his wife was home at the time. According to the Knox County Sheriff's Office, Trent Lockett took the magazine out of the gun to show it to his brother and a 12-year-old neighbor, but was unaware that a round was left in the weapon. When the young boy pulled the trigger, the remaining bullet hit his brother.
The News Sentinel has the story
Anderson County seeking juvenile court judge
Anderson County Juvenile Court Judge April Meldrum yesterday announced her resignation effective Jan. 19. The county has announced that it will convene a committee in mid-January to consider applications from individuals interested in serving as interim judge. The committee will be comprised of three county officials and one representative from each of the following organizations: Court Appointed Special Advocates, Community Mediation Services and the Anderson County Bar Association.
Read more in the Oak Ridger
State reps ask AG to fight health reform law
State Representatives Susan Lynn, R-Lebanon, and Debra Young Maggart, R-Hendersonville, have asked Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper to prepare to take legal action against the federal government in the event health care reform becomes law. The two believe that the bill under consideration by the U.S. Congress would impose an unfunded mandate on the state by requiring it to expand the Medicaid program at a cost of $1.4 billion annually.
Read more on Chattanoogan.com
City wins suit brought by judge, former commissioner
The city of Clarksville has won two cases brought by City Judge Charles Smith and former city commission member Charles Cook. In addition to filing the suits, which alleged the mayor violated various city codes, Cook issued a criminal citation. When the police department refused to act on the citation, Judge Smith issued a writ of mandamus alleging further code violations. A ruling in the suit found that Cook, a private citizen, did not have authority to issue a citation and that the charges at issue were beyond the authority of a city judge.
The Leaf Chronicle reports
Legislative News
Senator introduces new guns-in-bars bill
Less than a month after a judge threw out a law allowing those with state handgun carry permits to take guns into restaurants that serve alcohol, state Sen. Doug Jackson, D-Dickson, announced plans to file new legislation that will allow guns in restaurants and bars licensed to sell liquor by the drink. According to Jackson, it will not apply to establishments that sell only beer. The rewrite is in response to Davidson County Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman's ruling that the original law was unconstitutionally ambiguous about what constituted a restaurant.
Read more in The Leaf Chronicle
Politics
Turner's widow to seek seat
Johnnie Turner, wife of the late state Rep. Larry Turner and longtime executive director of the Memphis NAACP chapter, has decided to seek her former husband's seat in the General Assembly. Larry Turner, who represented District 85 for 25 years, died Nov. 27 after a battle with cancer. The Shelby County Commission will make an interim appointment to fill the seat until an election is held next November. The commission is to announce a replacement on Jan. 11.
The Commercial Appeal reports
Democratic aide victim of Christmas card fraud
Someone has used a photograph of Lonnie "Skip" Cauthorn, aide to state House Democratic leader Gary Odom, to create Christmas cards sent to legislators, lobbyists and others. The photo shows Cauthorn making an obscene gesture with his middle finger. The aide says he had nothing to do with the card and does not remember the photo. Rep. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, received one of the cards and, believing it to be real, posted a reproduction of it on his blog with the headline "What new Democrats think of the birth of Christ."
Learn more in the News Sentinel
TBA Member Services
TBA expands insurance services for members
The TBA Member Insurance Solutions Program has been expanded to offer assistance to members in meeting their health, life, disability and other insurance needs. Working with Graham Swafford III of Capital Financial Group, the TBA is now able to provide members with exclusive benefits, personalized service, and pricing discounts. Services and products offered include: disability income insurance, business overhead expense insurance, group life, long-term and short-term disability income insurance, long-term care insurance, and group health, dental and vision insurance along with other employee related benefits.
Learn more about TBA Insurance Solutions now

 
 
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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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