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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Feb 23, 2015

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Philip B. Seaton, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Susan Isbell.

Attorneys 2:

Betty Stafford Scott, Medina, Tennessee, and Linda L. Holmes, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, William G. Hatchett and Julia D. Hatchett.

Judge(s): GIBSON

This appeal involves claims arising from a settlement agreement allegedly entered by two of the parties to settle previous lawsuits. Appellant filed a complaint against Appellees alleging four causes of action: (1) tortious interference with a contractual obligation; (2) abuse of judicial process; (3) breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; and (4) conspiracy to deny Appellant her rights under the settlement agreement. Appellees responded by filing a joint motion to dismiss. The trial court found that three of Appellant‘s causes of action for tortious interference, breach of good faith, and conspiracy each required the existence of a contract and dismissed those claims based on a finding that the settlement agreement was void and unenforceable. The trial court also dismissed Appellant‘s abuse of judicial process claim after finding ?no evidence whatsoever that [Appellees] or their counsel of record did anything improper that would support a cause of action for abuse of process.? On appeal, we reverse the trial court‘s finding that the settlement agreement was void and therefore reverse the dismissal of Appellant‘s claims requiring a contract. Additionally, we hold that because the trial court did not consider any extraneous evidence in dismissing the abuse of judicial process claim, the trial court erred in applying a summary judgment standard with regard to that claim. Because we find that the complaint sufficiently alleged abuse of judicial process, we also reverse the trial court‘s dismissal of that claim.