TLI NEWS February 2018

SUPREME COURT CLARIFIES TIMING OF A RULE 60 MOTION

Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 60.02 can be the lawyer’s valuable tool – if it’s done timely. A recent Tennessee Supreme Court case focuses on the timeliness issue, to the moving party’s disadvantage, under the facts of the case. Mr. Hussey dated Ms. Harris for several years. During that time she had a child, whom he acknowledged to be his in a court proceeding without benefit of DNA testing. Three years later, he died after being handcuffed and detained at a Dollar General store. His mother and Ms. Harris consulted an attorney about a wrongful death case. That attorney ultimately declined to take the case. Later, the decedent’s mother, through other counsel, filed and settled the wrongful death case without involving Ms. Harris or the child.

Twenty months after entry of a consent order of dismissal, Ms. Harris filed a Rule 60.02 motion to set aside the order and to substitute her son as the real party in interest. The trial court denied the motion. The Court of Appeals reversed, finding that there were some significant questions about the child’s paternity which needed to be resolved before any action on the motion, but the Tennessee Supreme Court disagreed. It focused not on the paternity question, but instead on the fact that Ms. Harris made little effort to determine what was happening in the lawsuit over a period of many, many months, and then filed her motion twenty months after the order went down. The judgment was not void, the court held. It then analyzed Rule 60.02(5), “any other reason justifying relief.” While this ground is not limited to a one-year period for filing a motion, the court tells us that relief under this provision is granted only in cases involving extraordinary circumstances or extreme hardship, which the court found did not exist in this case. Hussey v. Woods (Tenn., Lee, December 18, 2017).

Learn more about this and other interesting cases at the 47th Annual Review Seminar of the Tennessee Law Institute. Our 2018 schedule is set forth below. Please note the new location for our Memphis program.

Thur.-Fri., September 13-14 Nashville Music City Center
Thur.-Fri., September 27-28 Knoxville Convention Center
Thur.-Fri., October 18-19 Gatlinburg Convention Center
Thur.-Fri., November 8-9 Memphis, Halloran Centre for Performing Arts
Thur.-Fri., November 29-30 Chattanooga Convention Center
Tues.-Wed., December 11-12 Nashville Music City Center

Take advantage of our early registration period. You can save by registering on or before March 31. Early fees are $500 for the full fifteen hours and $450 for twelve hours (without ethics hours). Fees for lawyers age 66 and older or lawyers admitted in 2017-2018 are $450 for the full fifteen hour program.

To register or for more information, call (865) 531-8219 or 1-800-827-6716 or visit our website at www.tennesseelawinstitute.com

For the Institute,

Sarah Sheppeard

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