Opinion FlashMarch 25, 2002
Volume 8 Number 054
What follows is the case style or name, first paragraph, author's name, and the names of attorneys for the parties of each opinion released eletronically today to TBALink.
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Howard H. Vogel
CONNIE JEAN GIVENS v. ED MULLIKIN, administrator ad litem of the estate of LARRY McELWANEY, et al. Court:TSC Attorneys: Nathan W. Kellum, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ed Mullikin, administrator ad litem of the estate of Larry McElwaney. Leo Bearman, Jr., Robert M. Glover, and Launice P. Sills, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Allstate Insurance Company. William H. Fisher, III, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Connie Jean Givens. Judge: BARKER First Paragraph: The principal issue in this case is whether an insurance carrier and an insured may be held vicariously liable for the alleged tortious actions of an attorney hired to defend the insured. The trial court held that the plaintiff's complaint stated a claim of vicarious liability against the defendant insured and his insurance carrier for abuse of process, inducement to breach express and implied contracts of confidentiality, inducement to breach a confidential relationship, and invasion of privacy. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's ruling with respect to the vicarious liability issue, though it dismissed the claims for inducement to breach a confidential relationship and invasion of privacy. The defendants then appealed to this Court, and we now hold that an insurer and an insured may be held vicariously liable for the tortious acts or omissions of an attorney hired to defend the insured, if the attorney's tortious actions were directed, commanded, or knowingly authorized by the insurer or by the insured. We further hold that the complaint in this case states a claim of vicarious liability against the insurer alone for abuse of process. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed in part and reversed in part. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TSC/givensc.wpd
HEIRS OF NEIL G. ELLIS v. THE ESTATE OF VIRGIE MAE ELLIS Court:TSC Attorneys: Laurie Y. Young, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellants, the Heirs of Neil G. Ellis, consisting of William Oliver Ellis, James T. Ellis, III, Linda Wright, Henry Louis Bunce, Marjorie B. Edwards, Catherine B. Hall, Erma Doyle Davis, Vera Sue Haire, Empie L. Bunce, Margaret A. Brown, James F. Bunce, Karen Proctor Hall, and William T. Proctor. William W. Burton, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellee, the Estate of Virgie Mae Ellis. Judge: BARKER First Paragraph: The issue in this case is whether property held in a tenancy by the entirety is subject to the 120-hour survival rule contained in section 31-3-120 of the Tennessee Uniform Simultaneous Death Act. Three days after her husband's death, Mrs. Ellis died of unrelated natural causes, and her will was admitted to probate. The husband's heirs sought to intervene in the probate proceeding, claiming that because Mrs. Ellis did not survive her husband for 120 hours, section 31-3-120 deems both to have died "simultaneously." Consequently, they argued, Tennessee Code Annotated section 31-3- 104 authorized them to seek a one-half interest in the entireties property. The trial court denied the motion to intervene, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. On appeal to this Court, we hold that section 31-3-120 does not require one spouse to survive the other by 120 hours in order to obtain fee simple title to property formerly held by the entirety. We also hold that the General Assembly, in enacting section 31-3-120, did not intend to define the term "simultaneously" in section 31-3-104 as meaning "within 120 hours." Instead, we conclude that the legislature intended that this term should continue to receive its ordinary construction, meaning "at the same time." The judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TSC/heirsofellis.wpd
TRAU-MED OF AMERICA, INC. d/b/a/ BELLEVUE CLINIC v. ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, et al. Court:TSC Attorneys: R. Layne Holley, Memphis, Tennessee, and William H. Frye, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellants, Allstate Insurance Company, Vickie Harris, Charles E. Ferrell, Leslie Johnson, and Ron Iden. Ed M. Hurley, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Trau-Med of America, Inc., d/b/a Bellevue Clinic. Judge: BARKER First Paragraph: The plaintiff, a medical clinic, filed an action against the defendants alleging, among other things, tortious interference with business relationships and civil conspiracy. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss, which the trial court granted. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's dismissal of these claims, finding that the facts alleged in the complaint were sufficient to state claims upon which relief could be granted. This case is now before us to determine whether the trial court should have granted the defendant's motion to dismiss. We hold that the complaint in this case alleges sufficient facts to state a cause of action for tortious interference with business relationships. However, we dismiss the plaintiff's claim of civil conspiracy for failure to satisfy the plurality requirement necessary to establish an actionable conspiracy claim. Consequently, we affirm in part and reverse in part the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand this case to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TSC/traumed.wpd
SUPREME COURT OF TENNESSEE SUPREME COURT DISCRETIONARY APPEALS Court:TSC - Rules http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TSC_Rules/certlist_0325.wpd
SUSAN BRANNON COOPER v. KENT CLARK COOPER Court:TCA Attorneys: Christine Mahn Sell, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Kent Clark Cooper. Rosemarie L. Bryan, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Susan Brannon Cooper. Judge: GODDARD First Paragraph: This appeal from the Chancery Court of Hamilton County questions whether the Trial Court erred in increasing Ms. Cooper's alimony award. Additionally, it questions whether the Trial Court erred in awarding attorney's fees to Ms. Cooper and in refusing to dismiss her Answer and Counter- Complaint. We affirm the decision of the Trial Court in part and reverse in part and remand. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/coopersusan.wpd
STATE OF TENNESSEE, DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN'S SERVICES v. JENNIFER A. GORRELL, et al. Court:TCA Attorneys: J. Russell Pryor, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the Appellant/Counter-Appellee, Jennifer Gorrell Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter and Elizabeth C. Driver, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellee/Counter-Appellant, State of Tennessee, Department of Children's Services Judge: GODDARD First Paragraph: The State of Tennessee, acting through the Department of Children's Services, seeks the termination of parental rights as to A.L.L. and C.H.G. The Trial Judge declined to terminate the parental rights as to A.L.L., and awarded permanent custody of her to the Department of Children's Services. The State appeals this determination. He did terminate the parental rights of both the mother and the father as to C.H.G., which the mother appeals. We affirm. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/gorrell.wpd
WILLIAM HARWELL PERRY v. RICKI C. CHILDS PERRY WITH TWO CONCURRING OPINIONS Court:TCA Attorneys: J. Thomas Caldwell, Ripley, TN, for Appellant Julie D. Byrd, Tina Lum Perrusquia, Bartlett, TN, for Appellee Judge: HIGHERS First Paragraph: The Appellant and the Appellee were divorced by final decree of divorce entered by the Chancery Court of Tipton County. The trial court ordered the Appellant to pay the Appellee rehabilitative alimony on a temporary basis for two years. The trial court stated that the parties would return to court prior to the expiration of the two year period to determine whether rehabilitative alimony should continue. Prior to the expiration of the two year period, the Appellee filed a petition to modify the final decree of divorce to continue alimony payments and a petition for contempt. The Appellant filed a petition for an order closing rehabilitative alimony. The trial court held a hearing on the petitions. Following the hearing, the trial court ordered the Appellant to pay the Appellee rehabilitative alimony for three additional years. The trial court ordered the Appellant to pay the Appellee's attorney's fees. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/perrywmh_opn.wpd CONCURRING OPINION 1 http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/perrywmhc_con.wpd CONCURRING OPINION 2 http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/perrywmhc_con2.wpd
JUDITH LYNN SILVEY v. DARREL C. SILVEY Court:TCA Attorneys: John P. Konvalinka and Mathew D. Brownfield, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for Appellant, Judith Lynn Silvey. Roger E. Jenne, Cleveland, Tennessee, for Appellee, Darrel C. Silvey. Judge: FRANKS First Paragraph: In this divorce action the Trial Court granted divorce ordered rehabilitative alimony, child support and divided the marital property. Issues on appeal include the valuation, classification and division of marital property and the award of alimony. We affirm in part, vacate in part and remand. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/silveyj.wpd
STACEY J. STANLEY v. DANIEL RING, et al. Court:TCA Attorneys: David L. Hamblen, Union City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Stacey J. Stanley. Bruce Moss, Union City, Tennessee, for the appellees, Daniel Ring and wife, Deon Ring, Jerry Bond and wife, Jackie Bond, Robert Rose and Paul Seger and wife, Georgette Seger. Judge: FARMER First Paragraph: This case concerns riparian rights to a privately owned lake in a subdivision in Obion County. The trial court found that the boundaries of lots abutting the lake extend into the lake, and that the owners of these lots have riparian rights to limited use of the lake as reasonable under the circumstances. We modify in part and affirm in part. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/stanley.wpd
SHARRON FAYE STINNETT v. DAVID F. FERGUSON Court:TCA Attorneys: Charles H. Child, Knoxville, Tennessee, for Appellant. Jerry G. Cunningham and Melanie E. Davis, Maryville, Tennessee, for Appellee. Judge: FRANKS First Paragraph: In this divorce action, the issue on appeal is whether the Trial Court placed the correct value on the marital equity in wife's motel property. We affirm the value determined by the Trial Court. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCA/stinnetts.wpd
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. GREGORY SCOTT ALLISON Court:TCCA Attorneys: Julie A. Rice, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal); Raymond M. Garner, District Public Defender; and Shawn G. Graham, Assistant District Public Defender, Maryville, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Gregory Scott Allison. Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Kathy D. Aslinger, Assistant Attorney General; Michael L. Flynn, District Attorney General; and Kirk E. Andrews, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee. Judge: TIPTON First Paragraph: The defendant, Gregory Scott Allison, appeals from the Blount County Circuit Court's revoking his probation that was ordered for his sentences for burglary and theft. The defendant contends that although the trial court may have been justified in finding that he violated the terms of his probation, it erred in sentencing him to confinement. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/allisongregoryscott.wpd
MARIO LAMBERT v. JACK MORGAN, WARDEN Court:TCCA Attorneys: Mario Lambert, Only, Tennessee, Pro Se. Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; and Ron Davis, District Attorney General. Judge: WELLES First Paragraph: The Defendant, Mario Lambert, appealed as of right from the trial court's dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. This Court held that the trial court was without authority to sentence the Defendant as a Range I standard offender with a thirty percent release eligibility for the offense of second degree murder. We therefore concluded that, based on the record before us, the sentence imposed appeared to be an illegal sentence. We therefore reversed the judgment of the trial court dismissing the petition and remanded the case for further proceedings. See Mario Lambert v. Jack Morgan, Warden, No. M1999-02321-CCA-R3-PC, 2001 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 599 (Nashville, Aug. 7, 2001). On January 23, 2002, our supreme court remanded this case to us, directing us to reconsider our opinion in light of State v. Burkhart, 566 S.W.2d 871 (Tenn. 1978), and further directed us, on remand, to "clarify the action to be taken by the Criminal Court pursuant to the opinion of the Court of Criminal Appeals when the case is remanded to the trial court." We again reverse the judgment of the trial court summarily dismissing the habeas corpus petition and remand this case to the trial court for further proceedings. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/lambertm.wpd
COREY L. MALONE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE Court:TCCA Attorneys: Mike Anderson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Corey L. Malone. Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Kathy D. Aslinger, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. (Torry) Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Kymberly Haas, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee. Judge: RILEY First Paragraph: The petitioner originally pled guilty, pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement, to second degree murder and especially aggravated robbery for an effective sentence of twenty years. The petitioner filed a post-conviction relief petition, which was denied by the post-conviction court. In this appeal, the petitioner contends (1) he received ineffective assistance of counsel, and (2) his guilty pleas were unknowingly and involuntarily entered. After review, we affirm. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/malonecl.wpd
PATRICK E. SIMPSON v. STATE OF TENNESSEE Court:TCCA Attorneys: Patrick E. Simpson, Clifton, Tennessee, Pro Se. Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter; Thomas E. Williams, III, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Jon P. Seaborg, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee. Judge: RILEY First Paragraph: The petitioner originally pled guilty, pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement, to two counts of aggravated assault for agreed sentences of three years on each count, to run concurrently with each other but consecutively to a parole violation. The petitioner over two years later filed a "Petition for Review of Sentence" with the trial court alleging the judgment form omitted mention of the agreed upon pretrial jail credits. The trial court dismissed the petition finding it was without jurisdiction since the petitioner was "serving his sentence with TDOC for his parole violation." The petitioner challenges this ruling in this appeal, and additionally alleges he is serving his sentence in the Department of Correction, rather than at the Davidson County Workhouse, in contravention of his written plea agreement. We dismiss the appeal. http://www.tba.org/tba_files/TCCA/simpsonpe.wpd
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