White and 'Citizens United' lawyer discuss judicial elections

National Public Radio's OnPoint explores the relationship of "big money" to justice in this look at judicial selection and election, in light of a study that says spending on state Supreme Court elections has more than doubled in the last 10 years. Is money threatening to undermine the rule of law? One of Host Tom Ashbrook's guests is former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice and current University of Tennessee College of Law Professor Penny White. Also on the show is James Bopp Jr., attorney with the James Madison Center for Free Speech, and known as the legal mind behind the Citizens United case.

Listen to the show from NPR

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Court: TWCA


T. Scott Jones and Chris W. Beavers, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Wayne Moran.

Ricky L. Apperson, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Fulton Bellows & Components, Inc.

Judge: KURTZ

Employee alleged that he sustained hearing loss as a result of his work for employer. He filed a civil action 94 days after an impasse was reached at a benefit review conference. The trial court granted employer's motion to dismiss on the basis of the 90-day statute of limitations, Tenn. Code Ann. section 50-6-203(g)(1) (2008). On appeal, employee contends that the report of the benefit review conference was never "filed with the commissioner" of Labor and Workforce Development as required by the statute and that the 90-day limitation period therefore never began to run. We affirm the judgment.



Court: TWCA


Sean Antone Hunt, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Findley & Pegram Company, Inc.

Bruce D. Brooke, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Carolyne Park-Pegram.

W. Ray Jamieson, Bartlett, Tennessee, for the appellee, The Regional Medical Center at Memphis.


Pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51, this workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Emory Pegram ("Decedent") was the President of Findley & Pegram Company, Inc. ("Employer"). He died as a result of a motorcycle accident. Approximately ten minutes before the accident, he had made a bank deposit for the business. He thereafter drove past his office and home. Employer had no active projects in the direction Decedent was traveling at the time of the accident. There was, however, a potential future project in that direction. Decedent had not informed any co-workers or employees where he was going or for what purpose. He was carrying business documents, a business cell phone, and a tool. The trial court concluded that he was a traveling employee at the time of the accident, and awarded workers' compensation death benefits to his widow. The trial court also awarded post-judgment interest for the five-month period between the announcement of the court's decision and entry of the judgment. Employer has appealed. We conclude that Decedent was not a traveling employee, but was acting in the course of his employment at the time of the accident. We further conclude that the workers' compensation statute does not authorize an award of interest prior to entry of the judgment. The judgment is modified to remove the award of post-judgment interest. It is otherwise affirmed.



Court: TWCA


Stephen F. Libby, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Otis Patrick.

Lori D. Parrish and Jason R. Hollingsworth, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, Safelite Glass Corporation and Zurich North America.


The employee alleged that he had sustained a compensable injury to his back. His employer denied the claim due to discrepancies between his account of the event that caused the injury and certain medical records. The trial court found that the employee had failed to sustain his burden of proof, and dismissed the complaint. The employee appealed, contending that the evidence preponderates against that finding. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.


LORRAINE DEUEL, Individually and as Administratrix of the ESTATE OF CLYDE DEUEL, deceased v. THE SURGICAL CLINIC, PLLC and RICHARD J. GEER, M.D.

Court: TCA


H. Anthony Duncan, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lorraine Deuel

C. J. Gideon, Jr. and Kimberly G. Silvus, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, The Surgical Clinic, PLLC and Richard J. Geer, M.D.

Judge: KIRBY

This is a medical malpractice case involving res ipsa loquitur. The defendant physician performed surgery on the plaintiff's husband. Sponges were used in the patient's abdomen during the procedure. Nurses in the operating room counted the sponges used in the surgery. The nurses erred in counting the sponges, and the defendant physician closed the surgical incision with a sponge remaining inside. The retained sponge was later discovered and removed in a second surgery. The plaintiff's husband subsequently died of causes unrelated to the retained sponge. The widow sued the physician and his employer for medical malpractice, asserting that the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur applied, as well as the common knowledge exception to the requirement of expert medical proof. The physician filed a motion for summary judgment, and the plaintiff filed a cross-motion for summary judgment as to liability. The defendant physician filed two medical expert affidavits, both of which stated that the defendant physician had complied with the applicable standard of care by relying on the nurses' sponge count. Initially, the plaintiff filed an expert affidavit stating that the defendant physician did not comply with the applicable standard of care, but later filed a notice stating that she intended to proceed to trial with no expert proof to support her medical malpractice claim. The trial court determined that neither res ipsa loquitur nor the common knowledge exception applied, and granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant physician. The plaintiff now appeals. We reverse the grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant physician, and affirm the denial of the plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment. We find that, under both the common knowledge exception and the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, the plaintiff was not required to submit expert proof to rebut the physician's expert testimony that he was not negligent by relying on the nurses' sponge count. However, application of neither res ipsa loquitur nor the common knowledge exception results in a conclusive presumption of negligence by the defendant physician. Therefore, a fact issue as to the physician's negligence remains for trial.



Court: TCCA


Donna Robinson Miller (on appeal); Mark E. Stephens, District Public Defender, and Robert C. Edwards and Greg Burlison, Assistant Public Defenders (at trial), for the appellant, David Lynn Harrison.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Phillip H. Morton, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


The Defendant, David Lynn Harrison, appeals from his conviction by a jury in the Knox County Criminal Court for theft of property valued at $1,000 or more, a Class D felony, for which he was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to three years in the Department of Correction. The Defendant contends (1) that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction, (2) that the trial court erred when it failed to instruct the jury on the lesser included offenses of unauthorized use of a vehicle and attempted theft, and (3) that the trial court committed plain error when it failed to instruct the jury on the defenses of duress and necessity. Because the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury on the lesser included offense of unauthorized use of a vehicle, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for a new trial.



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Election 2010
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Register for the program or learn more now
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