Tennessee Supreme Court To Hear Oral Arguments For November Docket In Jackson

November 7, 2022

The Tennessee Supreme Court has four cases set for its November 9, 2022 docket. The cases will be heard in Jackson, Tennessee, beginning at 9 a.m. CST and will be livesteamed to the TNCourts YouTube page – https://www.youtube.com/user/TNCourts/featured

The details of the case are as follows:

  • Paul Zachary Moss v. Shelby County Civil Service Merit Board – The appellant, Paul Zachary Moss, was a firefighter and paramedic in Shelby County, Tennessee. He was terminated from his employment after he was involved in a physical altercation while off-duty at a political rally. After a hearing, the Shelby County Civil Service Merit Board upheld his termination. Mr. Moss sought judicial review, and the chancery court likewise upheld the termination, but the Court of Appeals reversed due to its finding that there was a violation of his due process rights. The Tennessee Supreme Court found no due process violation, so it reversed and remanded the case to the Court of Appeals for consideration of Mr. Moss’s alternative arguments. On remand, the Court of Appeals considered Mr. Moss’s argument that the Board deprived him of a protected property right to be “treated fairly and consistently” compared to the discipline of other similarly situated civil service employees. The intermediate court held that the Board’s decision to exclude evidence of disparate discipline was arbitrary and unreasonable, but it affirmed the trial court on all other issues. Thus, the Court of Appeals remanded the case to the Board for further proceedings and permitted Mr. Moss to introduce evidence concerning the discipline of other employees. The Tennessee Supreme Court granted the ensuing application for permission to appeal.
  • James A. Welch et al. v. Oaktree Health and Rehabilitation Center LLC d/b/a Christian Care Centers of Memphis et al.– David Welch, the brother of Appellant James Welch, was admitted to a nursing home in 2016. At the time of admission, an arbitration agreement was signed by the patient’s brother, who presented a durable power of attorney for health care executed by the patient several years earlier. After the patient’s death in 2017, the brother filed a wrongful death action against the nursing home. The nursing home filed a motion to compel arbitration, which the brother opposed. The trial court ruled that it would “look beyond” the face of the power of attorney to determine whether the patient, who had Down syndrome, was competent when he executed the document. After discover, the court concluded that the patient was incompetent and denied the nursing home’s motion. The Court of Appeals reversed, citing Owens v. National Health Corp., 263 S.W.3d 876 (Tenn. 2007), and concluding that the trial court erroneously looked beyond the face of the power of attorney to determine competency. The Supreme Court granted Mr. Welch’s application for permission to appeal and limited review to the following issues: (1) Whether the Court of Appeals went beyond the permitted scope of review in reversing the circuit court’s decision based on application of the Tennessee Health Care Decisions Act, Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-11-1801 to -1815, a statute not raised by either of the parties on appeal or addressed by the circuit court; (2) Whether this Court’s citation to Tennessee Code Annotated section 34-6-208 in footnote 4 in Owens v. National Health Corp., 263 S.W.3d 876 (Tenn. 2007), creates a bright line rule prohibiting trial courts from considering a principal’s lack of capacity to grant a healthcare power of attorney and other healthcare agency appointments; and (3) Whether the Court of Appeals’ determination that the circuit court erred in looking into the validity of the health care power of attorney to enforce the arbitration agreement improperly favors nursing home arbitration agreements over other contracts, contrary to the requirements of 9 U.S.C.A. § 2, AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, 563 U.S. 333 (2011), and Tennessee contract law.        
  • Commercial Painting Company Inc. v. The Weitz Company LLC et al. – This appeal concerns a contract dispute between a general contractor, The Weitz Company, Inc., and its drywall subcontractor, Commercial Painting Company, Inc. The case has been pending for sixteen years and has been the subject of multiple appeals. The case went to a trial before a jury in September 2018 on claims of negligent and intentional misrepresentation, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and a request for damages pursuant to a payment bond. The jury awarded Commercial Painting $1,729,122.46 in compensatory damages and $3,900,000 in punitive damages. The trial court further awarded Commercial Painting pre- and post-judgment interest and attorney’s fees and costs. The Court of Appeals reversed the award of punitive damages and interest because such damages were not authorized under the parties’ agreement; affirmed the compensatory damages; and vacated the award of attorney’s fees for a determination of the fees incurred in obtaining the compensatory damages award. The intermediate court awarded no attorney’s fees on appeal. The Tennessee Supreme Court granted Commercial Painting Company’s application for permission to appeal specifically as to two issues: (1) Whether the Court of Appeals erred in applying the Tennessee Supreme Court’s holding in Milan Supply Chain Solutions, Inc. v. Navistar, Inc., 627 S.W.3d 125 (Tenn. 2021), and expanding the application of the economic loss doctrine to the circumstances of this case; and (2) Whether the Court of Appeals erred in vacating the trial court’s award of attorney’s fees and in limiting the scope of recoverable fees on remand, and whether the Court of Appeals erred in denying Commercial Painting Company an award of costs and fees on appeal.
  • Roger Baskin v. Pierce & Allred Construction Inc. – Plaintiff Roger Baskin sued Pierce & Allied Construction, Inc. in Davidson County, Tennessee, for breach of contract and breach of warranty. Mr. Baskin alleged that the defendant failed to construct a house in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, in accordance with the parties’ contract. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue. The Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the defendant’s contacts with Tennessee, including its purposeful applications for a certificate of authority to transact business and for a contractor’s license, were sufficient to allow Tennessee courts to exercise personal jurisdiction over the defendant. Italso found Davidson County to be a proper venue for the action. The Tennessee Supreme Court granted the defendant’s ensuing application for permission to appeal to consider whether the trial court could exercise specific personal jurisdiction over the non-resident defendant in this case.     

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