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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
00 - TN Worker's Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
07 - TN Court of Appeals
03 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
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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.

NORMA FAYE PYLES LYNCH FAMILY PURPOSE LLC v. PUTNAM COUNTY, TENNESSEE ET AL.

Court: TSC

Attorneys:

Robert A. Anderson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Norma Faye Pyles Lynch Family Purpose LLC.

Jeffrey G. Jones, Cookeville, Tennessee and Daniel H. Rader, III, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Putnam County, Tennessee and City of Cookeville, Tennessee.

Judge: KOCH

This appeal involves the obligation of local governments to obtain a certificate of public purpose and necessity in order to condemn private property to develop an industrial park. Putnam County and the City of Cookeville filed a condemnation complaint in Circuit Court for Putnam County but then voluntarily dismissed their complaint to allow time to obtain the certificate of public purpose and necessity required by Tenn. Code Ann. section 13-16-207(f) (Supp. 2009). The property owner then filed a motion seeking attorney's fees and costs, as well as a separate action seeking a partition in kind, an accounting, and damages. In response, the City and the County opposed the property owner's request for attorney's fees and filed an answer in the partition case that included a counterclaim to condemn the property. The City and the County also moved to set aside the voluntary dismissal of their original condemnation complaint. The trial court granted the City's and the County's motion to vacate the dismissal of their condemnation complaint, consolidated the condemnation and partition proceedings, and reserved addressing the property owner's request for attorney's fees. After the trial court denied its application for an interlocutory appeal, the property owner filed an application for extraordinary appeal in the Court of Appeals. After the Court of Appeals declined to grant the extraordinary appeal, the property owner renewed its application for an extraordinary appeal in this Court. After this Court granted the property owner's application, the City and County formally abandoned their efforts to condemn the property and requested this Court to dismiss the property owner's appeal on the grounds of mootness. We have determined that the appeal should not be dismissed for mootness and that the trial court erred by failing to dismiss the City's and the County's condemnation complaint because it had been filed before the City and County obtained the certificate of public purpose and necessity required by Tenn. Code Ann. section 13-16-207(f).

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TSC/2009/lynchfamily_121609.pdf


CHRISTOPHER JONES v. BEDFORD COUNTY, TENNESSEE

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Phillip L. Davidson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Chris Jones.

S. Todd Bobo and M. Wyatt Burk, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Bedford County, Tennessee.

Judge: CLEMENT

This is an appeal from a Governmental Tort Liability action against Bedford County by a former inmate in the Bedford County Jail. Plaintiff alleged that the County was liable to him for its negligent supervision of a corrections officer who allegedly sexually assaulted Plaintiff while incarcerated in the jail. The trial court dismissed Plaintiff's claim following a bench trial upon the implicit finding that there was no evidence that any person with supervisory authority was on notice of information that would lead them to suspect a future sexual assault. Plaintiff appealed. We affirm the trial court's dismissal of Plaintiff's claims finding that the evidence in the record does not preponderate against the trial court's findings.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/jonesc_121609.pdf


CLARANN SLOCUM v. KENNETH D. SLOCUM v. KAREN S. HAZELRIGG

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

L. Robert Grefseng, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kenneth D. Slocum.

J. Russell Parkes, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellee, Clarann Slocum.

Karen S. Hazelrigg, Kingston Springs, Tennessee, pro se.

Judge: DINKINS

In this divorce action, the trial court awarded a divorce to Wife, divided the marital property, ordered the return of the down payment on the marital residence to the parties' daughter, awarded Husband's interest in the marital residence to Wife as alimony in solido, and awarded Wife's attorneys' fees. On appeal, Husband challenges the trial court's division of property, order to return the down payment on the marital residence to the daughter, finding regarding the value of the marital residence, award of alimony in solido, and award of attorneys' fees. Finding that the trial court abused its discretion in awarding attorneys' fees, the award is vacated. The trial court's order is affirmed in all other respects.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/slocumc_121609.pdf


DILLARD SMITH CONSTRUCTION COMPANY v. COMMISSIONER OF LABOR AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Sara F. Reynolds, Nashville, Tennessee; Robert G. Lian, Jr., and Paul E. Mirengoff, Washington, D.C., for the appellant, Dillard Smith Construction Company.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General; and Warren A. Jasper, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development.

Judge: CLEMENT

This appeal arises from a petition seeking judicial review of an administrative order. The Tennessee Department of Labor, Division of Occupational Safety and Health (TOSHA) cited Dillard Smith Construction Company for violating six safety regulations that related to the fatality of a Dillard Smith apprentice-lineman. The TOSHA Review Commission affirmed all six violations. The Chancery Court subsequently affirmed the Review Commission's findings as to five of the six violations but reversed one, concluding that the record did not support the finding that Dillard Smith failed to conduct a job briefing. Both parties appealed the Chancellor's rulings. The Commissioner contends that the Chancellor erred in reversing the finding that Dillard Smith failed to conduct the required job briefing. Dillard Smith contends that the Chancellor erred in affirming the other five violations -- that it failed to check conditions related to safety, its employee came into contact with an energized part, the cut-off switch was not opened, the line was not tested, and the line was not grounded. We have concluded that the record contains substantial and material evidence to support the Review Commission's finding that Dillard Smith violated the TOSHA regulation that required a job briefing before beginning the first job of the day; therefore, we reverse the Chancellor's ruling that it did not. We have also concluded that the record contains substantial and material evidence to support the Review Commission's findings that Dillard Smith was also in violation of the other five TOSHA regulations for which it was cited. Therefore, we reverse in part and affirm in part.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/smithconstruction_121609.pdf


STATE AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY v. JONES STONE COMPANY, INC.

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Mark A. Baugh and Yanika C. Smith-Bartley, Nashville, Tennessee, and Larry C. Deener, Lexington, Kentucky, pro hac vice, for the appellant, State Automobile Insurance Company.

W. David Bridgers and Elizabeth S. Tipping, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jones Stone Company, Inc.

Judge: DINKINS

Insurer filed an action seeking a declaratory judgment that it was not required to provide coverage to insured in lawsuit filed against insured; insured filed a counter-complaint against insurer. At the close of all proof, the trial court directed a verdict in favor of insured on insurer's declaratory judgment action and directed a verdict in favor of insurer on insured's counterclaims of misrepresentation, bad faith, estoppel, and punitive damages. Insured's two remaining counterclaims were submitted to the jury, which returned a verdict in favor of insured for Tennessee Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA") and breach of contract claims. Trial court subsequently awarded insured double damages and attorney's fees under the TCPA. On appeal, both parties raise numerous issues with the judgment of the trial court, some of which are without merit or as to which no relief can be granted; such issues are dismissed. We reverse the award of double damages, vacate the award of counsel fees to the insured and remand for further consideration. In all other respects the judgment is affirmed.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/stateauto_121609.pdf


AMANDA STEELE, ET AL. v. MICHAEL RITZ

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Edward M. Bearman, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellants, Amanda Steele, Yolanda Spinks, Shonda Jones, and Tennessee Entertainment Concepts, Inc.

Brian L. Kuhn, Shelby County Attorney, Robert B. Rolwing, Assistant County Attorney and Christy L. Kinard, Assistant County Attorney, for the appellee, Michael Ritz.

Judge: FARMER

The plaintiffs/appellants in this lawsuit, an adult cabaret and three female employees of adult entertainment businesses and cabarets, filed a defamation suit against a county commissioner for a statement allegedly quoted in The Commercial Appeal and repeated at other venues. The county commissioner raised several defenses to the plaintiffs' claim in a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. On consideration of the motion to dismiss, the trial court found as a matter of law that the plaintiffs could not prove their claim and dismissed their complaint. We affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/steelea_121609.pdf


IN RE: CONSERVATORSHIP OF JOHN DANIEL TATE

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

Michael G. Hoskins, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, John Daniel Tate.

Paul T. Housch, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, David E. Tate.

Judge: CLEMENT

This Tenn. R. App. P. 10 application for an extraordinary appeal concerns whether the trial court hasentered a final judgment in a conservatorship proceeding. The trial court entered a series of orders in late 2007 and early 2008, regarding the appointment of a temporary conservator. More than a year later, the ward filed a motion requesting the entry of a final judgment so that he could file an appeal as of right. On September 22, 2009, the trial court denied the motion for entry of a final judgment, holding that its prior orders were final orders. We have concluded that the trial court's prior orders were interlocutory in nature and did not constitute final judgments. Accordingly, we grant the ward's application, reverse the trial court's September 22, 2009 decision and remand the case to the trial court for entry of a final judgment.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/tatej_121609.pdf


GREGORY B. WOOTEN v. KENNETH BLACK

Court: TCA

Attorneys:

T. Holland McKinnie, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kenneth Black.

C. Kelly Wilson, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Gregory B. Wooten.

Judge: CLEMENT

Plaintiff filed this action against his former partner alleging breach of their partnership agreement. The Special Master found that the defendant misappropriated profits of the partnership. Thereafter, the parties entered into an Agreed Order wherein the plaintiff was awarded a judgment of $38,750.00 against the defendant. The Agreed Order expressly reserved the issue of prejudgment interest for the trial court's determination. The trial court awarded prejudgment interest. Defendant appealed the award of prejudgment interest. Finding no error, we affirm.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCA/2009/wooteng_121609.pdf


MONOLITO B. COOPER v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Monolito B. Cooper, Tiptonville, Tennessee, Pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Matthew Bryant Haskell, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: OGLE

The petitioner, Monolito B. Cooper, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that his 1999 and 2002 sentences have expired due to the application of certain pretrial jail credits. The trial court denied the petition, and the petitioner appealed. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/cooperm_121609.pdf


STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DONALD RAGLAND

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Jeff Woods, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Donald Ragland.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; Reginald Henderson and Ray Lepone, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: WELLES

The Defendant, Donald Ragland, was convicted by a jury of one count of first degree premeditated murder. See Tenn. Code Ann. section 39-13-202. He was sentenced to life, with the possibility of parole, in the Department of Correction. In this direct appeal, he contends that: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress a statement he made to police; (2) the trial court erred in excluding a certified copy of a traffic citation received by the Defendant's alibi witness; and (3) the State presented evidence insufficient to convict him. After our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/raglandd_121609.pdf


JASPER LEE VICK v. STATE OF TENNESSEE

Court: TCCA

Attorneys:

Jasper Lee Vick, Whiteville, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; and Clarence E. Lutz, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge: GLENN

The petitioner, Jasper Lee Vick, appeals the Hardeman County Circuit Court's summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. The State has filed a motion requesting that we affirm the lower court's judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Because the petitioner has failed to establish that his convictions are void or his sentences illegal, we conclude that the State's motion is well-taken. Accordingly, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition.

http://www.tba2.org/tba_files/TCCA/2009/vickj_121609.pdf


TODAY'S NEWS

Legal News
Passages
TBA Member Services

Legal News
Poole seeks recusal in 'judge shopping case'
Chattanooga attorney Jerry Summers has accused Tennessee Wildlife officers of "judge shopping" to find jurists who will rule in their favor and at least two general sessions judges of unfairly requesting certain cases. Judges reject such characterizations saying cases are assigned randomly. Today, Judge Don Poole recused himself from the case saying he helped create the system that generates computerized assignments. Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman now will preside over the issue.
The Times Free Press reports
Bartlett to interview seven for judgeship
The city of Bartlett will conduct interviews with seven judicial applicants on Jan. 4 and 5. Lawyers Joseph Barton, Chris Brown, Larry Copeland, David Lakin, Henry Miller, Phillip Walker and David Willis submitted resumes for the judgeship, which was vacated on Oct. 29 with the death of Division 2 Judge George McCrary. Lakin is the court's lead prosecutor. The other six are in private practice. Not all aldermen agree on how to approach the selection: most support the interview process but several want the Division 1 judge to fill both Divisions 1 and 2 until the election in November.
The Commercial Appeal has more
Wilbun launches juvenile clerk campaign
Shep Wilbun wants to return to the office he held seven years, saying "...times have changed. The court has changed. I've changed..." A political comeback, though, would be about more than just an election victory -- it would be a personal victory. Wilbun lost the Shelby County Juvenile Court clerk's office in 2002 and was indicted on a charge of official misconduct. The charge was later dismissed by the district attorney. Now Wilbun must convince voters he deserves a second chance.
Memphis Daily News has more
Bradley man sues judge, DA
A complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga alleges that Polk County General Sessions Judge Bill Baliles and assistant district attorney Steven Bebb allowed divorce attorney Randy Sellers to serve as a special prosecutor in a criminal case against the same man he was battling in a civil case. Plaintiff Jeremy Hopkins said he was "absolutely astonished" when Baliles allowed private attorney Randy Sellers to prosecute a criminal case against him while Sellers was representing Hopkins' wife in divorce and custody proceedings. None of the defendants named in the suit commented on the substance of the allegations.
The Times Free Press has the story
New copyright crackdown planned
The federal government pledged renewed efforts Tuesday to crack down on copyright theft -- promising to aggressively pursue foreign and domestic counterfeiters of movies, CDs and other items that cost U.S. businesses billions of dollars each year. Among the efforts are a reinvigorated Justice Department task force to prosecute counterfeiting and copyright theft, increased enforcement by the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement, and a greater emphasis by the Commerce Department on global and bilateral treaties that protect intellectual property.
WSMV-TV News Channel 4 reports
AG in Atlanta to discuss fatherhood
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was in Atlanta recently to speak on the issue of responsible fatherhood as part of a White House and Department of Justice forum on "Responsible Fatherhood and Strong Communities." Holder said that being a responsible husband and father is as important as his role as attorney general, and that human services organizations must work within the criminal justice system to decrease recidivism and reintroduce incarcerated men to their families and productive society.
Read the news from WRCB-TV Chattanooga
Passages
Former Chattanooga judge dies
Russell C. Hinson, 83, formerly of Chattanooga, died Dec. 13 in Duluth, Ga. Hinson practiced law in Chattanooga from 1957 to 1962 when he was appointed to General Sessions Court. He retired from the court in 1996 and relocated to Georgia in 2004 to be near his daughter and son-in-law. Hinson earned his law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School in 1951, served in World War II and worked as an adjunct professor of criminal justice at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for many years. The family suggests that memorial donations be made to Brainerd Church of Christ in Chattanooga.

TBA Member Services
Avis benefits 'try harder'
TBA members are offered a rental car discount through Avis. Enroll in the Avis Preferred Service at www.avisawards.com to bypass the rental counter and go directly to your car for a faster, easier rental experience. Enter code AWD# A570100.


 
 
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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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