Articles Posted in Tennessee Supreme Court

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At issue in this case was the standard for determining whether a shareholder’s claim is a direct claim or a derivative claim. This case arose from a dispute among siblings who were shareholders in a closely-held family corporation. The conflict resulted in dissolution of the original family corporation, the formation of two new corporations, and a lawsuit. In the suit, one group of shareholder siblings asserted claims against the other group of shareholder siblings. The trial court awarded damages to the plaintiff shareholder siblings. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the plaintiff shareholder siblings did not have standing because their claims were derivative in nature and belonged to their new corporation. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the traditional approach for determining whether a shareholder claim is direct or derivative described in Hadden v. City of Gatlinburg is hereby set aside; (2) the framework set forth by the Delaware Supreme Court in Tooley v. Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Inc. is hereby adopted; and (3) under the Tooley framework, the plaintiffs lacked standing to assert some claims but had standing as to other claims. View "Keller v. Estate of Edward Stephen McRedmond" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed an action against Defendant within the extended statute of limitations set by a tolling agreement. Plaintiff voluntarily nonsuited the action and refiled it within one year but after the extended statute of limitations in the tolling agreement. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant, determining that the case was not timely filed. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the tolling agreement precluded application of the savings statute and, therefore, Plaintiff’s claims were barred. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under the parties’ agreement, the savings statute applied to save the suit that Plaintiff refiled after the extended statute of limitations set in the tolling agreement but within the one-year period provided by the savings statute. Remanded. View "Circle C. Constr., LLC v. Nilsen" on Justia Law

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In 2001, Father filed a petition to terminate Mother’s parental rights. Mother did not file an answer to the petition. The trial court subsequently entered a default judgment terminating Mother’s parental rights. In 2010, Mother filed a petition seeking to set aside the judgment terminating her parental rights as void for lack of personal jurisdiction. Father argued that Mother’s petition was barred by the one-year statute of repose applicable to judgments terminating parental rights and thus should be dismissed. The trial court granted Mother’s petition and set aside the default judgment terminating her parental rights. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the default judgment was void for lack of personal jurisdiction; (2) the reasonable time filing requirement of Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60.02 does not apply to petitions seeking relief from void judgments under Rule 60.02(3); and (3) however, relief from a void judgment should be denied if certain exceptional circumstances exist. Remanded for a hearing to determine whether exceptional circumstances justify denying relief in this case. View "Turner v. Turner" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against three health care providers. The trial court granted motions for summary judgment dismissing all the claims against one of the providers. The trial court did not explain the grounds for its decisions and, rather, requested counsel for the provider to prepare orders establishing the rationale for the court’s ruling. In response, the provider’s counsel prepared “extremely detailed” orders essentially restating the arguments contained in the provider’s filings in support of its summary judgment motions. The trial court signed the orders over Plaintiff’s objections. The court of appeals vacated the contested orders because the trial court had failed to state the legal grounds for its decisions as required by Tenn. R. Civ. P. 56.04. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that trial court failed to comply with Rule 56.04 because the summary judgment orders did not demonstrate that the court exercised its own independent judgment in reaching its decision. View "Smith v. UHS of Lakeside, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a health care liability action against Defendant-health care providers. Six days before filing his complaint, Defendant sent a pre-suit notice of his potential claim to each Defendant by certified mail, return receipt requested, as permitted by Tenn. Code Ann. 29-26-121(a)(1). Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that Plaintiff failed to file with his complaint an affidavit of the person who had sent the pre-suit notice by certified mail. The trial court dismissed the complaint. The court of appeals affirmed but noted the harsh results strict compliance produces in cases such as this one where no prejudice is alleged. The Supreme Court reversed and reinstated the complaint, holding (1) the statutory requirement that an affidavit of the person who sent the pre-suit notice by certified mail be filed with the complaint may be satisfied by substantial compliance; and (2) Plaintiff substantially complied with the statute in this case. View "Thurmond v. Mid-Cumberland Infectious Disease Consultants, PLC " on Justia Law