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Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Dec 2, 2014

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys 1:

R. Jonathan Guthrie, McKinley S. Lundy, Jr., C. Leland Davis, and Bryan H. Hoss, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Larry Sneed.

Attorneys 2:

Nathan D. Rowell, Dan R. Pilkington, and Brian R. Bibb, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, City of Red Bank, Tennessee.

Jennifer B. Morton and Maha M. Ayesh, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the amicus curiae, Tennessee Employment Lawyers Association.

Thomas J. Garland, Jr. and Jeffrey M. Ward, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the amicus curiae, Tennessee Municipal Attorneys Association.

Charles W. Swanson and Devin P. Lyon, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the amicus curiae, City of Knoxville.

W. Bryan Smith, Memphis, Tennessee, and John Vail, Washington, D.C., for the amicus curiae, Tennessee Association for Justice.

Judge(s): CLARK

We granted review in this interlocutory appeal to determine whether the analysis the Court of Appeals employed in Young v. Davis, No. E2008-01974-COA-R3-CV, 2009 WL 3518162, at *6-7 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 30, 2009), to conclude that Tennessee Public Protection Act (“TPPA”) claims against governmental entities must be tried without a jury in the manner prescribed by the Governmental Tort Liability Act (“GTLA”), should be applied to determine whether a Tennessee Human Rights Act (“THRA”) claim against a governmental entity is controlled by the GTLA. We reject the analysis Young applied and overrule it to the extent it may be interpreted as holding that the GTLA governs all statutory claims against governmental entities. The analysis used in Cruse v. City of Columbia, 922 S.W.2d 492 (Tenn. 1996), controls the determination of this issue. Applying Cruse, we hold that the THRA is an independent and specific statute, which removed governmental immunity and which controls the adjudication of THRA claims. We further hold that the provisions of the THRA clearly establish legislative intent to afford a right to trial by jury to persons who bring THRA claims against governmental entities in chancery court. Accordingly, based on these holdings, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed. The trial court’s order transferring this case to circuit court is vacated, and this matter is remanded to the chancery court for further proceedings consistent with this decision.