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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.

01 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Worker's Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
05 - TN Court of Appeals
06 - 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.

SUPREME COURT DISCRETIONARY APPEALS Grants & Denials List

Court: TSC

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC/2010/certlist_031510.pdf


BILL BURTON GREEN, JR. v. TERESA ANN GREEN

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Robert L. Jackson and Elizabeth A. Garrett, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Teresa Ann Green.

Helen Sfikas Rogers, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Bill Burton Green, Jr.

Judge: CLEMENT

The wife in this divorce action contends the trial court erred in the amount of transitional alimony she was awarded, in denying her request for alimony in futuro, and in denying her request to recover attorney's fees. We affirm the trial court's decisions regarding transitional alimony and alimony in futuro. As for the issue of the wife's attorney's fees, we find the wife is entitled to recover some or all of the attorney's fees she incurred at trial and on appeal; we leave it to the discretion of the trial court to determine the amount of the fees for which the husband should be responsible.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2010/greenb_031510.pdf


CLIFTON LAKE, ET AL. v. THE MEMPHIS LANDSMEN, L.L.C., ET AL.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Gary K. Smith and C. Philip M. Campbell, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, Clifton A. Lake and Charleen J. Lake.

Kenneth R. Rudstrom, Memphis, Tennessee and James E. Singer, Altanta, Georgia, for the appellee, The Memphis Landsmen, L.L.C.

Aaron Robert Parker, Molly Glover and Steve N. Snyder, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Metrotrans Corporation.

James B. Summers, Kirk A. Caraway and Heather W. Fletcher, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Budget Rent A Car System Inc. f/k/a Cherokee Acquisition Corporation.

Judge: STAFFORD

This is an appeal from a jury verdict in a negligence and products liability case. Appellant- Husband was injured when the bus, on which he was a passenger, collided with a concrete truck. Appellant-Husband and Appellant-Wife filed suit against Appellees- the bus manufacturer, the bus owner, and the franchisor. Following trial, the jury found that the Appellants had suffered $8,543,630.00 in damages, but found that none of the Appellees were at fault and apportioned one hundred percent of the fault to a non-party. Appellants appeal. We find that Appellants' claims based on the use of tempered glass in the side windows of the bus, and the lack of passenger seatbelts in the bus are preempted by the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, 49 U.S.C. section 30101 et seq. Further, we find that the Appellants failed to present evidence that the use of perimeter seating in the bus caused the injuries. Consequently, we find that the trial court erred in not granting Appellees' motions for directed verdict on the Appellants' claims based on the use of perimeter seating. Reversed and remanded.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2010/lakec_031510.pdf


SEAN ERIC VON TAGEN v. ROBIN LYNN VON TAGEN

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

James L. Weatherly, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robin Lynn von Tagen.

Mark T. Freeman, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Sean Eric von Tagen.

Judge: HIGHERS

This appeal involves a father's petition for modification of the divorce decree, seeking a reduction of his alimony and child support obligations. Pursuant to the divorce decree, Father was obligated to pay Mother $3,000 per month in rehabilitative alimony and $2,000 per month in child support. The trial court granted the petition, reducing the alimony obligation to $750 per month and the child support obligation to $1,609 per month. The court refused to find the father voluntarily underemployed, but it imputed income to the mother, who was unemployed. The court denied both parties' requests for attorney's fees. Mother appeals. We affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2010/tagens_031510.pdf


TINA TAYLOR, ET AL. v. LAKESIDE BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SYSTEM

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Robert L. J. Spence and Regina Guy, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tina Taylor.

William H. Haltom, Jr. and Andrea N. Malkin, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Lakeside Behavioral Health System.

Judge: STAFFORD

This is a medical malpractice case. Appellant filed suit against Appellee Hospital after Appellant's decedent suffered several falls and a broken hip while a patient at Appellee Hospital. The trial court granted Appellee Hospital's Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6) motion, thereby dismissing Appellant's amended complaint. Specifically, the trial court held: (1) that the amended complaint was ineffective to give notice to Appellee Hospital because it did not reference the date(s) of decedent's falls, (2) that the medical malpractice claim and hedonic damages of the widow arising therefrom were dismissed by previous orders of the court, and (3) that the proof did not support the averments made in the amended complaint. After review, we conclude: (1) that the amended complaint is sufficiently specific to satisfy Tenn. R. Civ. P. 8, and to state a claim for medical malpractice against the Appellee Hospital, (2) that the previous orders of the trial court only dismissed the wrongful death claims and widow's loss of consortium claims arising therefrom, and not the medical malpractice claims, and (3) that the trial court reviewed matters outside the pleadings so as to trigger summary judgment analysis under Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.03, and (4) that there are disputes of material fact in this case so as to necessitate a full evidentiary hearing on the medical malpractice claim. Reversed and remanded for an evidentiary hearing on the medical malpractice claim against Appellee Hospital and on the widow's loss of consortium claims arising from the alleged medical malpractice.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2010/taylort_031510.pdf


JOANNE WELLS v. MARK WELLS

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Stuart B. Breakstone and Kathy Baker Tennison, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mark Wells.

Joseph Michael Cook, Germantown, Tennessee, for the appellee, Joanne Wells.

Judge: STAFFORD

This is divorce case, ending a fifteen year marriage. Appellant-Husband appeals from the trial court's classification and division of marital property. Appellee-Wife appeals from the trial court's decision to impute income to her. Finding no error, we affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2010/wellsj_031510.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. MICHAEL DEWAYNE BROWN

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Noel H. Riley, II, Dyersburg, Tennessee for the Defendant-Appellant, Michael Dewayne Brown.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; C. Phillip Bivens, District Attorney General; and Karen Burns, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Defendant-Appellant, Michael Dewayne Brown, was convicted by a Dyer County jury of three counts of sale of cocaine under 0.5 grams, a Class C felony. For each count, he received an eight-year sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction, with the sentences to be served concurrently. Brown was also assessed a $2,000 fine for each conviction; however, the fine was suspended for counts two and three. On appeal, Brown claims the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/brownm_031510.pdf


MARCO BUTLER v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Lance R. Chism, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Petitioner-Appellant, Marco Butler.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Nicole Germain, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Petitioner, Marco Butler, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court's denial of post-conviction relief from his guilty pleas to first degree murder and especially aggravated robbery, a Class A felony, and his concurrent sentences of life and twenty-five years, respectively. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel failed to communicate his release eligibility date. He also contends that his plea was involuntarily and unknowingly entered. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/butlerm_031510.pdf


FRANKIE E. CASTEEL v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Ruth H. Delange, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Frankie E. Casteel.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; William H. Cox, II, District Attorney General; M. Neal Pinkston, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: TIPTON

The Petitioner, Frankie E. Casteel, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for three counts of first degree murder. In this appeal, the Petitioner contends that the trial court erred in finding that he received the effective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/casteelf_031510.pdf


COREY LYNN CLARK v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Corey Lynn Clark, Pro Se, Whiteville, Tennessee.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Cameron L. Hyder, Assistant Attorney General; and Garry G. Brown, District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCMULLEN

The Petitioner, Corey Lynn Clark, appeals the Gibson County Circuit Court's summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court violated his due process rights by summarily dismissing his petition without following the requirements of the Post-Conviction Procedure Act as stated in Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-30-101, et. seq. Upon review, we reverse and remand for further proceedings in accordance with the Post-Conviction Procedure Act.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/clarkc_031510.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. THOMAS CHRISTOPHER HAYES, ALIAS CHRISTOPHER HAYES

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Benjamin L. McGowan (on appeal), Chattanooga, Tennessee; Ardena Garth, District Public Defender; and Lorrie Miller, Assistant Public Defender (at trial), attorneys for appellant, Thomas Christopher Hayes.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; William B. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Rachel Winfrey, Assistant District Attorney General, attorneys for appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: THOMAS

The Defendant, Thomas Christopher Hayes, appeals as of right his Hamilton County Criminal Court jury conviction for sexual battery, a Class E felony. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to four years as a Range II, multiple offender to be served in the Department of Correction. His sole issue on appeal is whether the evidence is sufficient to support his conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/hayest_031510.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ALBERT L. SCHLIEF

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Samuel F. Robinson III, Chattanooga, Tennessee (on appeal); and Jes Beard, Chattanooga, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Albert L. Schlief.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox, III, District Attorney General; and Leslie Longshore, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

A Hamilton County Criminal Court jury convicted the defendant, Albert L. Schlief, of two counts of rape of a child, see T.C.A. section 39-13-522 (1997), and one count of solicitation of rape of a child, see id. sections 39-13-522, 39-12-102. The trial court imposed concurrent sentences of 20 years for each rape of a child conviction and three years for solicitation of rape of a child. In this appeal, the defendant contends that the trial court should have granted a mistrial based upon the State's failure to timely disclose exculpatory evidence, an error which the defendant contends was compounded by the prosecutor's improper closing argument. The defendant also complains that the trial court prevented him from presenting a defense and that the trial court erred by prohibiting the jury from examining a letter written by one of the victims. The defendant also challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and argues that the cumulative effect of the errors at trial entitles him to a new trial. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2010/schliefa_031510.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
Legislative News
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Attorney general opinion: donation law would likely be unconstitutional
A current state law that bans donations to political campaigns by corporations would likely be ruled unconstitutional if challenged in court, according to a legal opinion released Friday by the Tennessee Attorney General's office. "In light of the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, concluding that there is no legitimate government interest that would justify a ban on independent corporate campaign expenditures, a court probably would hold (the Tennessee law) unconstitutional," according to the attorney general's opinion.
WBIR reports
Opinion: 'Sunshine Week' important reminder for open government
It's national "Sunshine Week," a time for Americans to take stock in the value of open government, writes Frank Gibson in an opinion piece. "Excessive and unwarranted secrecy" surrounding government action -- or inaction -- impacts people's lives and breeds distrust and a loss of confidence in government, Sunshine Week founders stress. Gibson commends Tennessee for establishing the Office of the Open Records Counsel within the state Comptroller's Office and an Advisory Committee on Open Government. Elisha Hodge, an attorney and the state open records counsel, filed her 2009 annual report with the General Assembly earlier this month, showing that office handled 1,085 inquiries about the requirements of the law. That's almost twice as many as the year before, which Gibson says is a good thing.
Read it in The Daily News Journal
Editorial: Open records at work
Just in time for "Sunshine Week," an editorial in the Knoxville News Sentinel commends the Tennessee Supreme Court for refusing to hear an appeal in a public records case earlier this month. The case is a lawsuit filed by former prisoner Alex Friedman, who now is an editor for the magazine Prison Legal News, against Corrections Corporation of America. Friedman wanted prison records and CCA said it didn't have to give them to him. The courts, though, "have upheld the principle that the people's work is the public's business," the paper says.
Read the editorial
Obama nominee Liu could be 'longtime force'
Goodwin Liu, 39, President Barack Obama's nominee for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, is a Rhodes Scholar, former high court clerk and current assistant dean and law professor at the University of California, Berkeley. And some are speculating that this "unabashed liberal legal scholar" could, if confirmed, become a force on the federal appeals court for decades.
The News Sentinel carried this AP report
Egyptian court says women can be judges
Egypt's Constitutional Court backed the right of women judges to sit on the bench in the state's administrative courts, despite opposition from conservatives, state media reported today. The ruling follows a dispute within the State Council, the top administrative court, over whether women should be appointed.
WATE.com reported this AP story
Legislative News
Sex offenders registery would extend to teens under this bill
State legislators are considering a bill that would make 14- to 18-year-olds register with a sex offenders list, just as adults in Tennessee have done since 1995.
Nashville Public Radio's Capitol Hill correspondent explains
Lynn will continue in race
State Rep. Susan Lynn says she will remain in the race for the 17th state Senate district despite the incumbent's new decision to seek reelection. Last Thursday, State Sen. Mae Beavers announced that she would seek reelection at the end of her current term. She had said 10 months ago that she would not seek reelection, but would run instead for Wilson County Mayor.
NashvillePost.com has more
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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