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Attorneys across Tennessee are donating their time and talents to help in 4ALL Public Service Day Projects on April 4. More than 40 legal clinics and other activities are now scheduled for April 4 in communities across the state. Find a project in your area and contact the coordinator to join in the 4ALL Public Service Day activities.

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TODAY'S OPINIONS
Click on the category of your choice to view summaries of today’s opinions from that court, or other body. A link at the end of each case summary will let you download the full opinion in PDF format. To search all opinions in the TBALink database or to obtain a text version of each opinion, go to our OpinionSearch page. If you have forgotten your password or need to obtain a password, you can look it up on TBALink at the TBA's Membership Central.

01 - TN Supreme Court
03 - TN Worker's Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
01 - TN Court of Appeals
04 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
00 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR

You can obtain full-text versions of the opinions two ways. We recommend that you download the Opinions to your computer and then open them from there. 1) Click the URL at end of each Opinion paragraph below. This should give you the option to download the original document. If not, you may need to right-click on the URL to get the option to save the file to your computer. 2) Do a key word search in the Search Link area of TBALink. This option will allow you to view and save a plain-text version of the opinion.

SUPREME COURT DISCRETIONARY APPEALS

Court: TSC

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC/2009/certlist_030909.pdf


SHARON CLARK v. SPRINT PCS et al.

Court: TWCA

Attorneys:

John W. Barringer, Jr. and David M. Drobny, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Sprint PCS.

Bill Easterly and James B. Lewis, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Sharon Clark. M. Clark Spoden and Brian C. Neal, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Convergys Customer Management Corp.

Judge: BLACKWOOD

This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-225(e)(3) for hearing and reporting to the Supreme Court of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The trial court awarded appellee Sharon Clark's claim for workers' compensation benefits and held appellant Sprint PCS liable rather than Clark's successor employer, appellee Convergys. The trial court also assessed discretionary costs against Sprint. Sprint contends that the trial court erred in (1) holding it rather than Convergys liable for Clark's claim; (2) relying on medical depositions taken while Sprint was not a party; and (3) assessing discretionary costs against it. After our review of the record, we reverse the trial court's judgment against Sprint and order judgment against Convergys. We remand this matter for the reassessment of discretionary costs.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC_WCP/2009/clarks_030909.pdf


YVONNE PIGG v. LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE CO., ET AL.

Court: TWCA

Attorneys:

Jerry D. Mayo, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Yvonne Pigg.

Lee Anne Murray and Jennifer R. Mueller, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael Moore, Solicitor General; Lauren S. Lamberth, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, The Second Injury Fund.

Judge: HARRIS

In this workers' compensation case, the employee sustained a compensable shoulder injury. She alleged that she sustained an additional injury to her back as a result of medical treatment for the shoulder injury. Her employer denied that claim. A settlement of both claims was approved by the Department of Labor. The settlement agreement stated that the back injury was being settled on a disputed claim basis, pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-206(b). The employee returned to work for her employer for approximately three years. She was unable to satisfy her production quota and was eventually terminated for that reason. She sought reconsideration of both claims in the trial court. The trial court held that reconsideration of the back injury claim was barred by the terms of the settlement. It denied reconsideration of the shoulder injury claim because her termination was for "misconduct." Employee has appealed, contending that the trial court erred. We affirm the judgment.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC_WCP/2009/piggy_030909.pdf


TAMMY SEALS v. VANGUARD OF MANCHESTER, LLC

Court: TWCA

Attorneys:

Russell D. Hedges, Tullahoma, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tammy Seals.

Owen R. Lipscomb, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Vanguard of Manchester, LLC.

Judge: BLACKWOOD

This workers' compensation appeal has been referred to the Special Workers' Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated Section 50-6-225(e)(3) for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law. The employee was an LPN for a nursing home. She was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome in 2003. She was terminated, for reasons unrelated to her work injury, in 2005. She began working in a similar job for a second nursing home. In September 2006, she had surgery to treat her condition. She sued the earlier employer, but not the latter employer, seeking workers' compensation benefits. The trial court applied the "last day worked" rule, and found that the injury occurred while she worked for the second employer. The lawsuit was dismissed. The employee has appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in its determination of the date of her injury. We affirm the judgment.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC_WCP/2009/sealst_030909.pdf


SUSAN MACKOWSKI PEDINE v. THOMAS MARK PEDINE

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

James F. Logan, Jr., Cleveland, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Thomas Mark Pedine.

Roger E. Jenne, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Susan Mackowski Pedine.

Judge: SWINEY

This appeal involves the dissolution of the second marriage between Susan Mackowski Pedine ("Wife") and Thomas Mark Pedine ("Husband"). Following a trial, the Trial Court granted Wife a divorce, classified the parties' property as either marital or separate, and then divided the marital assets. The Trial Court also awarded Wife rehabilitative alimony of $6,000 per month for a period of four years, to be followed by alimony in futuro of $3,000 per month. Husband and Wife both appeal the Trial Court's classification of certain property as marital or separate, as well as the overall division of marital property. Husband appeals the type and amount of alimony awarded to Wife. We modify the Trial Court's classification of certain property as either marital or separate, and modify the overall distribution of marital property. We affirm the Trial Court's judgment as to the amount and type of alimony awarded to Wife. As modified, the judgment of the Trial Court is affirmed.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/pedines_030909.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RE'LICKA DAJUAN ALLEN
CORRECTED OPINION

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

James A. H. Bell, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Re'Licka Dajuan Allen.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel West Harmon, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Kevin J. Allen, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: SMITH

Defendant, Re'Licka Dejuan Allen, was indicted on two counts of aggravated exploitation of a minor and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor. The State refused to comply with Defendant's requests for discovery by withholding the contents of Defendant's computer hard drive and other computer materials alleged to contain incriminating evidence. The State refused to disclose the requested discovery despite the trial court's issuance of two protective orders, the ruling of the appellate court on interlocutory appeal, and a third protective order by the trial court requiring disclosure. After a final hearing, the trial court suppressed the evidence and dismissed the indictment against Defendant. The State argues on appeal that the trial court erred in suppressing the evidence based upon the perceived threat of federal prosecution to defense counsel. Following our review of the parties' briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we reverse the judgment of the trial court, reinstate the indictment and remand for trial.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/allenr_corr_030909.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. EDWARD LEON DAVIS

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Kari I. Weber, Assistant Public Defender, Somerville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Edward Leon Davis.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Assistant Attorney General; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Terry Dycus, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: MCLIN

The defendant, Edward Leon Davis, was convicted by a jury of delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance (cocaine) weighing more than .5 grams, a Class B felony. For his conviction, the defendant received a sentence of ten years. On appeal, the defendant raises the following issues: (1) whether the trial court erred in denying the defendant's motion for a mistrial; (2) whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain his conviction; (3) whether the trial court imposed an excessive sentence; and (4) whether the trial court erred in denying the defendant probation or alternative sentencing.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/davise_030909.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. SPENCER LOUIS LARK, JR.

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

James E. Thomas, Memphis, Tennessee (on appeal); and Frank Deslauriers, Covington, Tennessee (at trial) for the appellant, Spencer Louis Lark, Jr.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany, Assistant Attorney General; D. Michael Dunavant, District Attorney General; James Walter Freeland, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General; and P. Neal Oldham, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Following a jury trial with co-defendant Maurice Nash, Defendant, Spencer Louis Lark, Jr., was found guilty of two counts of aggravated assault, a Class C felony, and one count of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, a Class E felony. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced Defendant as a Range II, multiple offender, to six years for each aggravated assault conviction, and two years for his felony reckless endangerment conviction. The trial court ordered Defendant to serve his sentences concurrently for an effective sentence of six years. Defendant does not appeal the length or manner of service of his sentences. In his appeal, Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/larks_030909.pdf


WILLIAM T. UTLEY v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Kandi Kelley Collins, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, William T. Utley.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; Alfred Earls, Assistant District Attorney General; and Shaun A. Brown, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge: WOODALL

Petitioner, William Utley, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to show that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance and affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/utleyw_030909.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
TennBarU CLE
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Rule change would benefit access to justice
The Tennessee Supreme Court is seeking comment on proposed amendments to Rule 5 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Tennessee. The amendments would allow research assistants and law clerks employed in the court system to perform certain pro bono tasks. The proposal is part of the court's efforts to advance access to justice in the state. Comments are due to the court by April 6.
Read the order and proposed amendments
Legal layoffs pass 700 today
It's been a rough day for lawyers at several big firms, who felt the pain of more than 700 layoffs. The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog reports the main participants were White & Case, which today announced it was laying off 200 associates and 200 staff; Morgan Lewis (55 attorneys and 161 staff); and K&L Gates (36 associates and 79 staff).
Read more from the WSJ Law Blog
Law firms face pressure to cut rates
The Washington Post, meanwhile, takes a look at how the recession is putting increasing pressure on law firms to slash spending and discount their services. The newspaper reports that client demand for lower prices is prompting firms to outsource some of their document work to India, hire more temp or contract lawyers, shift from billable hours to fixed fees and eliminate staff.
Read the Washington Post story
Palin email hacker faces new charges
The University of Tennessee student charged with hacking into the personal e-mail account of Alaska governor Sarah Palin pleaded not guilty today to three more charges in the case. The added counts are fraud, unlawful electronic transmission of material outside Tennessee and attempts to conceal records to impede an FBI investigation.
Read more from the Associated Press
Selma event a 'reconciliation and redemption'
The nation's first African American attorney general and Gov. George C. Wallace's daughter celebrated the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march Sunday -- 44 years after state troopers from the Wallace administration beat marchers as they started the landmark journey.
Read more about the event from TriCities.com
Domestic Violence Court sets focus on breaking cycle
Rutherford County is devoting greater resources and attention to domestic violence, working to break the patterns of power and control. General Sessions Court Judge Ben McFarlin now spends each Thursday handling nothing but domestic violence cases. "This allows us to emphasize to the community we perceive this as a serious problem and to make a positive impact to solving the problem," McFarlin said.
Read more in the Murfreesboro Post
TennBarU CLE
Learn pitfalls, common misconceptions of FSLA
Don't be tripped up by pitfalls and common misconceptions of the minimum wage/overtime requirements of the FLSA. This week's TennBarU CLE webcast will outline which employees are subject to the FLSA, what the most common exemptions are, how to make sure clients comply with the FLSA, and the questions to ask to determine if a client has a valid FLSA claim. Tune in at noon central time on March 11.
Register or find out more now
TBA Member Services
Health savings accounts now available
The TBA has partnered with First Horizon Msaver Inc. to offer Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and HSA-qualified health plans for individuals and groups to members. HSAs are tax-advantaged accounts that let you set aside money to pay for current and future medical expenses. For more information, or to obtain an instant quote for an HSA-qualified health plan, call the TBA's dedicated toll-free customer care line at (866) 257-2659 or visit the TBA member web site.
Click here

 
 
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About this publication: Today's News is a compilation of digests of news reports of interest to Tennessee lawyers compiled by TBA staff, links to digested press releases, and occasional stories about the TBA and other activities written by the TBA staff or members. Statements or opinions herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tennessee Bar Association, its officers, board or staff.

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