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Father’s appeal in this termination of parental rights case satisfied the signature requirement contained in Tenn. Code Ann. 36-1-124(d) and was not subject to dismissal. Father timely a timely notice of appeal from the judgment of the trial court terminating his parental rights. The notice of appeal was signed by Father’s attorney but not signed personally by Father.The court of appeals entered an order directing Father to show cause why his appeal should not be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction for failure to comply with section 36-1-124(d). Father’s response included a challenge to the constitutionality of the statute. The Supreme Court assumed jurisdiction over the case and, after directing the parties and the attorney general to address certain issues, held (1) section 36-1-124(d) does not require a notice of appeal to be signed personally by the appellant; and (2) because the notice of appeal signed by Father’s attorney satisfied the signature requirement, Father’s appeal was not subject to dismissal, thus rendering moot the other issues before the court. View "In re Bentley D." on Justia Law

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The legislature intended the phrase “not engaged in unlawful activity” in the self-defense statute, Tenn. Code Ann. 39-11-611, to be a condition of the statutory privilege not to retreat when confronted with unlawful force, and the trial court should make the threshold determination of whether the defendant was engaged in unlawful activity when he used force in an alleged self-defense situation. Defendant was convicted of attempted voluntary manslaughter as a lesser-included offense of attempted second degree murder and related offenses. The court of criminal appeals affirmed the convictions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s conduct of being a felon in possession of a firearm was unlawful activity for purposes of the self-defense statute, but the trial court’s jury instructions were harmless error; and (2) Defendant’s remaining arguments on appeal were without merit. View "State v. Perrier" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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At issue was whether a home inspector owes a duty of reasonable care to a homeowner’s guest. Plaintiff was injured when he fell from a second story deck that had not been properly constructed but had recently been inspected by a state home inspector hired by the homeowner. Plaintiff sued the home inspector, home inspection franchise, and other defendants not relevant to this appeal. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendants successfully negated essential elements of the claims of negligent misrepresentation and negligent inspection and that summary judgment was appropriate. View "Grogan v. Uggla" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentences, as merged by the Court of Criminal Appeals. Defendant was convicted of three counts of first degree murder, one count of attempted first degree murder, and other related offenses. The jury sentenced Defendant to death for each of the first degree murders. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of death plus six years. The Supreme Court held (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding that Defendant acted with the requisite premeditation to support his first degree murder convictions; (2) Defendant waived his Fourth Amendment challenge to the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress statements he made to the police; (3) the death sentence imposed in this case was not excessive or disproportionate when compared to the penalty imposed in similar cases; and (4) as to the remaining issues raised by Defendant, the court agreed with the conclusions of the Court of Criminal Appeals. View "State v. Clayton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court’s decision in West v. Shelby County Healthcare Corp., 459 S.W.3d 33 (Tenn. 2014), holding that “reasonable charges” for medical services under Tennessee’s Hospital Lien Act are the discounted amounts a hospital accepts as full payment from patients’ private insurer and not the full, undiscounted amounts billed to patients, does not apply in personal injury cases. Further, the collateral source rule applies in this personal injury case, in which the collateral benefit at issue is private insurance. Therefore, Plaintiffs may submit evidence of the injured party’s full, undiscounted medical bills as proof of reasonable medical expenses, and Defendants are precluded from submitting evidence of discounted rates accepted by medical providers from the insurer to rebut Plaintiffs’ proof that the full, undiscounted charges are reasonable. The Supreme Court thus affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals, which concluded that West did not apply to personal injury cases but that evidence of discounted amounts accepted by the injured’s medical providers may be admissible to rebut Plaintiffs’ expert testimony on the reasonableness of the amount of the full, undiscounted bills. View "Dedmon v. Steelman" on Justia Law

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In this appeal challenging Defendant’s sentence, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of criminal appeals, vacated the sentencing determination of the trial court, and remanded the matter to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing. Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of vehicular homicide by intoxication. Defendant was sentenced to eight years with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. The trial court ordered Defendant to serve his sentence in confinement. The court of criminal appeals reversed and ordered Defendant to be placed on full probation. The Supreme Court held (1) the trial court failed to make sufficient findings for the appellate courts to review the sentence with a presumption of reasonableness; (2) the record was inadequate to conduct an independent review of the sentence imposed by the trial court; and (3) consequently, the record was not sufficient to support the court of criminal appeals’ modification of Defendant’s sentence to order full probation. View "State v. Trent" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Tennessee Uniform Trust Code is intended to give trustees broad authority to fulfill their duties as trustee and gives trustees the power to enter into predispute arbitration agreements, so long as doing so is not prohibited under the operative trust instrument. At issue in this interlocutory appeal was whether the signature of the trustee of a trust on an investment/brokerage account agreement that included a provision requiring the arbitration of disputes bound the beneficiary of the trust to the predispute arbitration provision. The Supreme Court held (1) under both the Tennessee Uniform Trust Code and the operative trust instrument, the trustee had authority to enter into the arbitration agreement contained within the account agreement; and (2) applying the principle that a third party who seeks the benefit of a contract must also bear its burdens, the trust beneficiary in this case may be bound to arbitrate claims against the investment broker that sought to enforce the account agreement. The court vacated the trial court order compelling arbitration of all claims and remanded the case to the trial court for a determination as to which, if any, of the claims asserted by the trust beneficiary seek to enforce the account agreement. View "Harvey ex rel. Gladden v. Cumberland Trust & Investment Co." on Justia Law

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This case arose out of rear-end collisions involving three tractor trailer vehicles. Plaintiff sued the owners and drivers of both of the other tractor trailers. The owner of the third tractor trailer was later dismissed on a directed verdict. The jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff. The trial court suggested a remittitur of the jury’s verdict in all four categories of damages awarded. On appeal, the Court of Appeals reinstated the jury’s award for lost earning capacity, suggested a further remittitur to the award for loss of enjoyment of life, and affirmed the remitted award in the remaining two categories of damages. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the trial court’s rulings regarding a pretrial agreement between Plaintiff and the owner of the third tractor trailer; (2) affirmed the trial court’s decision not to give a special instruction on superseding cause; (3) reversed the court of appeals’ remittitur for the award for loss of enjoyment of life because the Court of Appeals had no authority under the circumstances to suggest a further remittitur; and (4) determined that it was unable to conduct a proper appellate review of the trial court’s remittitur decision. View "Borne v. Celadon Trucking Services, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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In this case arising out of a secured transaction between Debtor and the predecessor to Plaintiff, Bank, both the trial court and the court of appeals erred in their respective applications of the statutory “rebuttable presumption rule” under Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code, as codified at Tenn. Code Ann. 47-9-626. Debtor borrowed more than $2.3 million from Bank’s predecessor for the purchase of an aircraft, which secured the loan. The trial court later found that Debtor had defaulted on the loan agreement, that Bank had disposed of the aircraft in a commercial reasonable manner, and that Bank was entitled to recover a judgment for a deficiency of over $1.6 million. The court of appeals vacated the deficiency judgment, concluding that Bank’s sale of the aircraft had not been commercially reasonable. On remand, the trial court concluded that Bank had met its burden to rebut the presumption under section 47-9-626 and that Bank was entitled to recover a deficiency in the amount of $1.2 million. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Bank had not rebutted the statutory presumption and was thus not entitled to a deficiency. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals, vacated the trial court’s judgment and remanded, holding that Bank sufficiently rebutted the statutory rebuttable presumption. View "Regions Bank v. Thomas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Commercial Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals affirming Defendant’s conviction for especially aggravated robbery. On appeal, Defendant argued that the serious bodily injury to the victim occurred after the robbery was complete, and therefore, he could have committed only an aggravated robbery. Relying on different reasoning than that employed by the intermediate appellate court, the Supreme Court held that the evidence supported Defendant’s conviction of especially aggravated robbery because the victim’s serious bodily injury was inflicted before Defendant had completed robbing the victim with a deadly weapon. View "State v. Henderson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law