THE METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY v. OWNERS OF PROPERTY WITH DELINQUENT DEMOLITION LIENS FILED WITH THE REGISTER OF DEED’S OFFICE IN DAVIDSON COUNTY, TENNESSEE, ET AL. - Articles

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Posted by: Chandra Williams on Apr 7, 2016

Head Comment: With dissenting opinion.

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

The Department of Law of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Saul Solomon, Jon Cooper, Lora Barkenbus Fox, and Catherine J. Pham, for the appellant, the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.

Attorneys 2:

Marshall L. Hix, Frank H. Reeves, and Elise C. Hofer, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Regions Bank.

Judge(s): SWINEY

This appeal arises from a dispute over the meaning of the term “owner” as it relates to Tenn. Code Ann. § 13-21-103, part of the Slum Clearance and Redevelopment Act (“the Act”). The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (“Metro”) sued various defendants in the Chancery Court for Davidson County (“the Trial Court”) to recover costs associated with the demolition of certain property in Nashville. Regions Bank (“Regions”), the mortgagee of record and a defendant in the case, argues that while it is an owner under other sections of Tenn. Code Ann. § 13-21-103, it is not an owner under the statute as relates to demolition costs and thus is not liable for Metro’s demolition costs. The Trial Court granted Regions’ motion for judgment on the pleadings, thereby dismissing Metro’s lawsuit. Metro appeals to this Court. We hold that under Tenn. Code Ann. § 13-21-101, “owner” is defined explicitly to include mortgagees of record, that the language is unambiguous, and that the Trial Court erred in dismissing Metro’s lawsuit. We reverse the judgment of the Trial Court and remand this case to the Trial Court for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion.