CAROL PETSCHONEK v. THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF MEMPHIS, ET AL. - Articles

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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on May 23, 2012

Head Comment: With Concurring Opinion

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

John H. Dotson and Allison Wannamaker, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, The Catholic Diocese of Memphis and Church of the Incarnation School.

Attorneys 2:

Dan N. Norwood and Steven W. Barnat, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Carol Petschonek.

Judge(s): FARMER

Defendant employer moved for summary judgment in this common law retaliatory discharge action on the grounds that Plaintiff employee was not an employee-at-will and that Plaintiff had failed to identify any law or clear public policy allegedly violated by Defendant. The trial court denied the motion. We granted permission for interlocutory appeal. On appeal, Defendant raises the issue of whether the courts lack jurisdiction under the ministerial exception. We hold that the court has subject matter jurisdiction. We also hold that Plaintiff was not an at-will employee, and therefore cannot establish a prima facie case of common law retaliatory discharge. The trial court’s judgment denying Defendant’s motion for summary judgment is reversed.