Tennessee Supreme Court To Hear Oral Arguments For February Docket In Nashville

The Tennessee Supreme Court has two cases set for its February 22, 2023 docket. The two cases will be heard in Nashville beginning at 9 a.m. CST.  The cases will be livestreamed to the TNCourts YouTube page at: www.youtube.com/@TNCourts/featured. The details of the cases are as follows:

  • James Williams v. Smyrna Residential, LLC et al. – This appeal concerns the enforceability of an arbitration agreement. Granville Earl Williams, Jr. was admitted to an assisted living facility in 2020 and died two months later.  At the time of admission to the facility, Mr. Williams’ daughter/attorney-in-fact signed an arbitration agreement. Notably, the attorney-in-fact acted pursuant to a general durable power of attorney that granted the authority to act “in all claims and litigation matters” but did not cover healthcare decision making. After Mr. Williams’ death, his son filed a wrongful death action individually as next of kin and on behalf of Mr. Williams’ wrongful death beneficiaries against the assisted living facility. The facility filed a motion to compel arbitration, which Plaintiff opposed, and the trial court denied the motion. The court found that the attorney-in-fact did not possess authority to make health care decisions on behalf of Mr. Williams and that the decision to enter into the arbitration agreement as part of Mr. Williams’ admission to the assisted living facility was a health care decision. The trial court also found that even if the arbitration agreement was validly signed, the wrongful death beneficiaries would not be bound by the agreement. The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court in its entirety. The Tennessee Supreme Court granted the assisted living facility’s ensuing application for permission to appeal.
  • Pratik Pandharipande, M.D. v. FSD Corporation – In this case, a homeowners’ association (“HOA”) and the owner of property within a development dispute the scope and applicability of certain restrictive covenants. In 2015, Dr. Pratik Pandharipande purchased a home and leased it as a short-term rental property. The HOA opposed the use of the property in this manner and notified Dr. Pandharipande in writing that he was in violation of applicable restrictive covenants. Dr. Pandharipande filed suit against the HOA seeking a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief arguing that a 1984 restrictive covenant did not preclude the short-term leasing of his property and that a 2018 amendment to the covenant could not be applied to his property retroactively. The HOA filed an answer and a counterclaim seeking to enforce the restrictive covenants.  The trial court granted the HOA’s motion for summary judgment and found that the 1984 restrictive covenant prohibited Dr. Pandharipande from short-term leasing his property and also found that the 2018 amendment prohibited him from doing so. The Court of Appeals affirmed.  The Tennessee Supreme Court granted review of the case to consider the scope, construction, and applicability of the restrictive covenants at issue. Additionally, the Court directed the parties to specifically address: (1) Whether there are genuine issues of material fact with respect to the application of the 1984 Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions to the property purchased by Plaintiff Pratik Pandharipande in July 2015, in light of this Court’s opinion in Phillips v. Hatfield, 624 S.W.3d 464 (Tenn. 2021), including but not limited to the date on which the 1984 Declaration first was recorded, the ownership on that date of the property which Pratik Pandharipande purchased in July 2015, and whether any of the conveyances in Pratik Pandharipande’s chain of title exhibited an intent on the part of the grantor to impose the 1984 Declaration as a servitude; and (2) Whether this Court should limit or reject the analysis and holding of Shields Mountain Property Owners Association, Inc. v. Teffeteller, 2006 WL 408050 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2006), regarding residential purpose or use restrictions or limitations in restrictive covenants.      

Media members planning to attend oral arguments should review Supreme Court Rule 30 and file any required requests.