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Plaintiff was the secretarial assistant of Circuit Judge Harold Wimberly when Judge Wimberly lost the contested general election to William Ailor. Ailor informed Plaintiff that he would not require her services after taking office. Plaintiff filed suit against the State and Ailor in his individual capacity, alleging tortious interference with her employment relationship. Plaintiff also filed a complaint in the Claims Commission. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the statute providing that claims against the State based on the acts or omissions of state employees shall operate as a waiver of any cause of action which the claimant has against any state officer or employee. The trial court declined to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims against Ailor, concluding that Ailor was not acting as a state officer or employee when he made the administrative staffing decision. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because Plaintiff’s employment automatically ended when Judge Wimberly’s term ended and because she remained employed until the end of Judge Wimberly’s term, as a matter of law, Ailor did not tortiously interfere with Plaintiff’s employment relationship. View "Moore-Pennoyer v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The trial court entered a divorce decree between Mother and Father that incorporated an agreed parenting plan that did not designate a primary residential parent. After the divorce, Father spent the majority of the residential parenting time with the parties’ child. Father later filed a petition asking the trial court to modify the parenting plan to permit him to move with the child to Arizona because he had secured a job in an area where he and the child would live near family. After a trial, the trial court concluded that Father did not have a “reasonable purpose” for the relocation under Tennessee’s parental relocation statute, Tenn. Code Ann. 36-6-108. The court then entered a modified parenting plan designating Mother as the primary residential parent. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Webster v. Webster is overruled insofar as it misconstrued the meaning of the term “reasonable purpose” as used in the parental relocation statute; and (2) under the natural and ordinary meaning of the term “reasonable purpose,” Father stated a reasonable purpose for relocating with the parties’ child to Arizona, and Mother did not establish a ground for denying Father permission to relocate with the child. Remanded. View "Aragon v. Aragon" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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Employee asserted a private right of action against Employer under the Tennessee Tip Statute, Tenn. Code Ann. 50-2-107, for Employer’s failure properly to pay tips, gratuities, and service charges. The trial court granted Employer’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on the ground that there was no private right of action under the statute. The court of appeals reversed based in part on a 1998 court of appeals opinion, Owens v. University Club of Memphis, recognizing a private cause of action under the Tip Statute. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and affirmed the trial court’s judgment, holding (1) Owens is inconsistent in part with subsequent Supreme Court jurisprudence on implying a private right of action under a statute, and therefore, this Court declines to apply the doctrine of legislative inaction to presume that the legislature knew of the holding in Owens and acquiesced in it; and (2) Owens is overruled to the extent that it is inconsistent with the Court’s holding here that an employee has no private right of action under section 50-2-107. View "Hardy v. Tournament Players Club at Southwind, Inc." on Justia Law

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Rogelynn Emory, a full-time tenured teacher in the Memphis City School System, was terminated after the Memphis City Schools Board of Education concluded after a hearing that there was ample evidence of Emory’s unsatisfactory job performance. Emory subsequently filed a petition for judicial review. The trial court affirmed the Board’s decision. The Court of Appeals declined to reinstate Emory based on the untimeliness of the school board hearing but awarded her partial back pay. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision to upheld the termination of Emory’s employment and clarified the standard of judicial review for the termination of a tenured teacher under the Tenure Act, holding (1) the Court of Appeals’ award of partial back pay was without basis in the Teachers’ Tenure Act; and (2) because Emory failed to raise before the school board any objection as to the timeliness of her hearing, that issue was not properly before the Supreme Court. View "Emory v. Memphis City Schools Board of Education" on Justia Law

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In 2009, Appellant pleaded guilty to attempted rape of a child. That same year, Appellant began serving his sentence. On March 26, 2013, a Tennessee Board of Parole hearing officer conducted a parole hearing for Appellant based on a release eligibility date of June 14, 2013. The hearing offer recommended that parole be denied. The Board concurred and deferred the next parole hearing until 2013. Appellant filed a petition of certiorari, asserting that the Board’s decision was illegal, contrary to established law, and arbitrary and capricious. The trial court dismissed the petition. Appellant appealed. The Court of Appeals did not consider the issues raised by Appellant but, instead, determined that Appellant’s release eligibility date was April 3, 2015. The Court of Appeals then remanded the case to the trial court with instructions for the Board to conduct an immediate parole hearing for Appellant. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and affirmed the trial court’s decision, holding that the Court of Appeals lacked the authority to calculate the date Appellant could be considered for parole and did so incorrectly. View "Brennan v. Tennessee Board of Parole" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant was indicted for, inter alia, two counts of first degree premeditated murder. The trial court denied Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence seized from his residence, ruling that the Exclusionary Rule Reform Act applied to the case despite ex post facto concerns. The jury then convicted Defendant as charged. The jury sentenced Defendant to life sentences without the possibility of parole for the murders. The court of criminal appeals upheld Defendant’s convictions and sentences. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether the Court should modify the Tennessee ex post facto analysis found in Miller v. State in light of Collins v. Youngblood. The Supreme Court affirmed on separate grounds, holding (1) Miller v. State is overruled; (2) the ex post facto clause of the Tennessee Constitution has the same definition and scope as the federal ex post facto clause; (3) the application of the Exclusionary Rule Reform Act to this case was not an ex post facto violation; (4) the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of a search warrant; and (5) Defendant was not entitled to relief on his remaining issues. View "State v. Pruitt" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of stalking. The conviction was based, in part, on Defendant’s act of posting disparaging signs about the victim on the victim’s private property and on the property of the victim's employer, the Maury County Board of Education. Defendant appealed, arguing that her conviction violated her First Amendment right to free speech. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the evidence presented by the State was insufficient as a matter of law to sustain Defendant’s conviction for the criminal offense of stalking. This holding necessarily pretermitted discussion of whether Defendant’s right to free speech was violated. View "State v. Flowers" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff’s husband collapsed and died after participating in an exercise class at a fitness facility owned and operated by Church. Plaintiff filed a wrongful death action against Church alleging that Church negligently failed to utilize the automated external defibrillator (AED) on site that the facility, to train facility personnel on the proper use of the AED, and to comply with applicable state statutes. Church filed a third-party complaint against the company that sold it the AED (Seller), alleging that, should Plaintiff recover a judgment against it for failing to comply with statutes, Seller should be solely responsible for the judgment. Plaintiff then filed a second complaint naming Seller as a defendant. Seller moved for summary judgment against Plaintiff and Church, arguing that it owed no duty of care to Plaintiff or her husband. The trial court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Seller did not owe a duty of care to Plaintiff’s husband or other users of the fitness facility independent of its contract with Church; and (2) Church had no duty to acquire or use the AED it purchased from Seller, and therefore, Plaintiff’s husband was not a third-party beneficiary of Church’s contract with Seller. Remanded for entry of summary judgment in favor of Seller. View "Wallis v. Brainerd Baptist Church" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of multiple counts of first degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated rape, and facilitation of aggravated rape. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentences of death, holding (1) Defendant’s claims of evidentiary error were without merit; (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the victims’ family members to wear buttons containing images of the victims; (3) the trial court properly effectuated merger of the convictions; (4) the sentences of death were not imposed in an arbitrary fashion; and (5) Defendant’s death sentences were neither excessive nor disproportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases. View "State v. Davidson" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of facilitation of possession with intent to deliver 0.5 grams or more of cocaine, an offense proscribed by Tenn. Code Ann. 39-17-417. Because the jury found that the facilitation occurred within 1,000 feet of a school, the trial court concluded that the Drug-Free School Zone Act applied, thus increasing Defendant’s felony classification and requiring service of the entire minimum sentence. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed, holding that the Act applied to a conviction for facilitation and that there was sufficient evidence to support the facilitation conviction. The Supreme Court reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) the trial court erred in applying the Act to Defendant’s conviction for facilitation by requiring service of the entire minimum sentence and by increasing the felony classification; and (2) the State’s evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s finding of guilt on the lesser-included offense of facilitation of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school. View "State v. Gibson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law