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Tennessee Supreme Court To Livestream Oral Arguments January 26

The Tennessee Supreme Court has four cases set for its January 26, 2022 docket. The cases will be heard using livestream video conferencing and will be livestreamed to the TNCourts YouTube page: The first case will begin at 9 a.m. EST/8 a.m. CST, and the second case will begin at 10:30 a.m EST/9:30 CST. The third and fourth cases will begin at 1 p.m. EST/noon CST and 2:30 p.m. EST/1:30 CST, respectively. The details of the cases are as follows.

  • Pryority Partnership v. AMT Properties et al.– This appeal involves a commercial lease. Pryority Partnership leased a warehouse to AMT Properties to use as a factory/machine shop. Pryority allegedly agreed to repair or replace the leaky roof, but the roof was never repaired. AMT notified Pryority that it was vacating the premises and withheld rent. Pryority sued AMT for breach of the lease. AMT counter-claimed for breach of the lease, negligent misrepresentation, and violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). It sought recovery of compensatory damages, treble damages under the TCPA, and attorney fees and costs. Following a bench trial, the trial court ruled in favor of AMT on its claims for breach of the lease and negligent misrepresentation and awarded it compensatory damages of $193,006.35 and attorney fees of $69,002.68. Pryority appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision. The Tennessee Supreme Court granted Pryority Partnership’s application for permission to appeal but limited its review to two issues. The first issue is whether the affirmative defense of comparative fault is applicable to a negligent misrepresentation cause of action in which the conduct of the plaintiff constituting the basis for that defense also pertains to the justifiable reliance element of the negligent misrepresentation cause of action. The second issue is whether the rules of contract construction may be applied to an ambiguous contractual attorney’s fee provision to determine the intent of that provision and conclude that it is enforceable.        
  • State v. Tyler Ward Enix– Defendant Tyler Ward Enix was accused of killing his ex-wife. A jury convicted Defendant of first-degree murder and especially aggravated robbery. After the jury deadlocked on a sentence for first-degree murder, the trial court imposed a life sentence. The trial court also ordered Defendant to serve a consecutive twenty-five-year sentence for especially aggravated robbery. Defendant filed a motion for new trial, which the trial court denied. He appealed raising numerous issues, including sufficiency of the evidence, improper statements made by the prosecutor, and improper admission of certain evidence. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentences. The Tennessee Supreme Court granted Defendant’s application for permission to appeal to specifically consider whether plenary or plain error review should apply to a claim of prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument when a contemporaneous objection is not lodged at the time the misconduct allegedly occurred but the claim is raised in the motion for new trial.           
  • Elijah “LIJ” Shaw, et al. v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County– Two homeowners filed suit against the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (“Metro”) challenging a code provision that prevented them from serving customers at their home-based businesses. The trial court granted summary judgment to Metro. After the homeowners appealed, the metropolitan council repealed the challenged code provision and enacted a new provision allowing certain home-based businesses to serve up to six clients a day. The Court of Appeals determined that, in light of Metro’s enactment of the new ordinance, the appeal was moot. The homeowners filed an application for permission to appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court arguing that the Court of Appeals erred in dismissing the appeal as moot. They also argued that Metro’s restrictions on their home-based businesses violates the Tennessee Constitution. The Supreme Court granted review to consider these issues.
  • Recipient of Final Expunction Order in McNairy County Circuit Court Case No. 3279 v. David B. Rausch, Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, et al.– In 2015, Plaintiff, an unnamed citizen of McNairy County, Tennessee, entered into a diversionary plea agreement with the State, whereby the State agreed to dismiss one of two charges and Plaintiff agreed to judicial diversion and probation on the remaining charge. Plaintiff successfully completed four years of probation and petitioned for expungement. The State consented, and the trial court entered an expungement order. Plaintiff later learned that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (“TBI”) had not expunged all records related to the case despite having received the expungement order. The TBI asserted that statutes prohibited it from complying with the order because the offenses involved in Plaintiff’s case were sexual in nature and statutorily ineligible for expunction. Plaintiff filed suit against the TBI and the TBI director seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and a finding of civil contempt. Plaintiff and the TBI filed cross motions for partial judgment on the pleadings, and the TBI also moved for permission to file under seal the unredacted criminal record. The trial court denied all three motions but granted Plaintiff permission to seek an interlocutory appeal. The Court of Appeals denied the application. The Tennessee Supreme Court, however, granted Plaintiff’s application for permission to appeal to consider under what circumstances, if any, may the TBI refuse to comply with a final expungement order issued by a court of record.