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Posted by: Landry Butler on Mar 9, 2017

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

James William Friauf, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellants, John Merwin and Sharon Merwin.

Attorneys 2:

William J. Carver, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Ken Davis and Martha Davis.

Judge(s): CLEMENT

This appeal arises from a dispute between neighbors regarding the construction of a sign that precipitated the exchange of threats followed by the filing of a civil warrant and criminal charges, a global settlement agreement, the alleged breach of the settlement agreement, and the commencement of this action. After Ken and Martha Davis sued John and Sharon Merwin in general sessions court on a variety of tort claims and filed criminal charges against Mr. Merwin, the parties entered into a settlement agreement pursuant to which Mr. Merwin agreed to remove the sign he erected and the Davises agreed to dismiss the civil warrant and the criminal charges. The Davises promptly dismissed the civil warrant but when the criminal case came on for hearing, the district attorney declined to dismiss the criminal charges against Mr. Merwin and the case was continued so Mr. Merwin could retain counsel. At the subsequent hearing, the criminal charges were dismissed and, in the interim, Mr. Merwin removed the sign. Thereafter, the Merwins commenced this action asserting a variety of tort claims, including a claim for malicious prosecution, and a claim for breach of contract based on the Davises’ failure to dismiss the criminal charges at the initial hearing. Upon the motion of the Davises, the trial court summarily dismissed the tort claims on the grounds of res judicata because they had been asserted in the civil warrant that was dismissed with prejudice. At the conclusion of the trial on the remaining claims, the trial court granted the Davises’ motion for a directed verdict on the breach of contract claim upon the ground it was legally impossible for the Davises to dismiss the criminal complaint and because the Merwins could not establish that the Davises breached the settlement agreement. The Merwins appeal. We affirm.