All Content

Posted by: Landry Butler on May 1, 2017

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

David S. Wigler, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Carl C. Smith, II.

Attorneys 2:

Arthur F. Knight, III, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Anderson County Sheriff Paul White and Civil Service Board of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department.

Judge(s): FRIERSON

This is an employment termination case involving a civil service employee. The petitioner was employed as a law enforcement officer with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department (“the Department”) when the Department received notice from the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) that the petitioner had been “indicated” as a perpetrator of child abuse in a DCS investigation pending in Roane County. The petitioner was placed on voluntary administrative leave. Upon subsequent notification that the DCS indication had been upheld through administrative review, the Department terminated the petitioner’s employment in November 2009. The petitioner appealed the termination to the Civil Service Board of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department (“the Board”). While the appeal to the Board was pending, the petitioner filed a petition in the Roane County Chancery Court, seeking judicial review of DCS’s administrative decision. Upon review, the Roane County Chancery Court entered a judgment on August 3, 2012, reversing the classification and directing DCS to change the classification from “indicated” to “unfounded.” Through his counsel, the petitioner contacted Anderson County Sheriff Paul White to request reinstatement of his employment, but Sheriff White denied the request. Following a hearing conducted on August 6, 2013, the Board affirmed the Department’s termination decision and denied the petitioner’s motion for reinstatement filed during the hearing. The petitioner filed a petition for certiorari and review of the Board’s decision with the Anderson County Chancery Court (“trial court”) on September 4, 2013, naming the Board and Sheriff White as respondents (collectively, “Respondents”). The petitioner then filed a motion for partial summary judgment, averring that he had not been provided constitutionally sufficient notice of misconduct justifying termination. Following a hearing, the trial court, with Chancellor William E. Lantrip presiding, granted partial summary judgment in favor of the petitioner in an order entered February 27, 2014. The Respondents filed a “motion to revise order,” pursuant to Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure 54 and 59. Following a hearing, the trial court, with Chancellor M. Nicole Cantrell now presiding, vacated the prior order granting partial summary judgment and affirmed the Board’s 05/01/2017 decision. The petitioner has appealed to this Court. We affirm the portion of the trial court’s judgment affirming the Board’s decision to uphold the initial termination. However, having determined that the Board’s decision to uphold the denial of reinstatement was not supported by substantial and material evidence and yielded an arbitrary and capricious result, we reverse the trial court’s affirmance of the Board’s decision to uphold Sheriff White’s denial of the employee’s September 2012 request and the Board’s denial of the petitioner’s motion for reinstatement. We remand for entry of an order to reinstate the petitioner to his employment and a determination of back pay and other damages to be calculated from the point of his September 2012 request for reinstatement.