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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Jul 17, 2015

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Julie C. Bartholomew and Valerie T. Corder, Somerville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Iris Teresa Bowling Chambers.

Attorneys 2:

David L. Douglas, Somerville, Tennessee, and Joseph T. Townsend, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Minor Douglas, PLLC.


This is an appeal from the denial of Appellant’s Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 60.02 motion. Appellee, Appellant’s law firm, filed an attorney’s lien against real property that was awarded to Appellant by partition in the underlying case. The trial court set the amount of the lien based on the commissioners’ valuation of the real property. Appellant disputed the amount of attorney’s fees by filing a motion to compel arbitration, in which she specifically argued that, under their contract, the parties were required to arbitrate any dispute concerning the amount of attorney’s fees. The trial court did not specifically rule on Appellant’s motion to compel arbitration, but inferentially denied the motion when it granted Appellee’s motion to sell the property to satisfy the previously granted attorney’s lien. Appellant then filed a Rule 60.02 motion for relief from the order enforcing the attorney’s lien. Her motion was denied, and she appeals. Although the attorney’s lien is valid, we conclude that the trial court erred in enforcing the lien as a judgment when there was a dispute concerning the enforceability of the parties’ contract, the amount of attorney’s fees, and the proper means of calculating those fees. Accordingly, we vacate the order enforcing the attorney’s lien in the amount awarded and remand the case for an evidentiary hearing to resolve the questions concerning the parties’ contract and to determine the proper amount of attorney’s fees, which may then be enforced against the lien. Vacated and remanded.