Session June 10, 2015.
Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Claims Commission Affirmed. Appeal from the Tennessee Claims Commission Western Division. No. T20131559. Commissioner Nancy Miller-Herron.
Andrew Love, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joe Mosley.
Herbert H. Slatery, III., Attorney General and Reporter; André e Blumstein, Solicitor General; Pamela S. Lorch, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
J. STEVEN STAFFORD, P.J., W.S., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ARNOLD B. GOLDIN, J., and KENNY ARMSTRONG, J., joined.
J. STEVEN STAFFORD, J.
Plaintiff, a former inmate with the Tennessee Department of Correction, filed suit in the Tennessee Claims Commission against the State of Tennessee for monetary damages. Plaintiff alleged that the State held him in custody longer than the term of his sentence and improperly applied certain sentence-reducing credits. He titled his cause of action as one for " negligent care, custody, and control" of which he asserted the Claims Commission had jurisdiction pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 9-8-307. The State filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that plaintiff's claim was one for the " negligent deprivation of statutory rights," and that the relevant statutes did not provide a private right of action. The Claims Commission granted the State's motion to dismiss. Plaintiff appealed. Discerning no error, we affirm.
This appeal involves the Tennessee Claims Commission's (" Commission" ) dismissal of Plaintiff/Appellant Joe Mosley's claim for wrongful incarceration based on, inter alia, a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. On May 29, 2013, Mr. Mosley, acting pro se, filed a Claim for Damages in the Division of Claims Administration against the Defendant/Appellant State of Tennessee (" the State" ).
Mr. Mosley had previously been an inmate in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Correction (" TDOC" ) after he pleaded guilty to three counts of Aggravated Sexual Battery. According to Mr. Mosley, he was initially arrested on May 7, 2002, and pleaded guilty to the offenses on November 25, 2002. He was sentenced to serve ten years in jail. He asserts that he remained incarcerated from the date of his arrest until he was released on October 4, 2012. In his Claim for Damages filed with the Division of Claims Administration, Mr. Mosley claimed that he ultimately served four months and twenty-seven days more than he was sentenced. He sought damages for enslavement, pain and suffering, wrongful incarceration, and endangerment of life. Because the Division of Claims Administration did not take action within ninety days after Mr. Mosley filed his claim, the case was transferred to the Commission pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 9-8-402(c).
Mr. Mosley, now acting through counsel, subsequently filed his Complaint for Damages (" complaint" ) with the Commission on February 12, 2014. He listed his cause of action as " negligent care, custody and
control of an inmate." Specifically, he alleged that the State owed him a duty to release him from incarceration at the expiration of his sentence, and the State breached this duty by failing to apply certain sentence reduction credits, including his pre-trial jail credit. Mr. Mosley asserted that the State violated at least two statutes, namely Tennessee Code Annotated Sections 40-35-501(i)(1) and 40-23-101(c), when it incarcerated him for longer than his sentence and failed to apply certain sentence-reducing credits. As such, the State ultimately retained custody of him for longer than his ten-year sentence; specifically, Mr. Mosley alleged that the State's alleged failure to properly award, calculate, and apply his sentence reduction credits resulted in Mr. Mosley serving 697 more days than he should have. Mr. Mosley also alleged that, on October 3, 2012, " some agent of the [State] with decision-making authority realized [the State's] errors and ordered [Mr. Mosley] released immediately." Because of his allegedly unlawful incarceration, Mr. Mosley asserted that he suffered damages including lost wages, pain and suffering, and permanent mental and emotional injuries.
The State did not file an answer to Mr. Mosley's complaint; instead it filed a motion to dismiss on March 13, 2014. In its motion, the State argued that the Commission lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Mr. Mosley's claim. The State contended that Mr. Mosley's claim was not actually one of negligent care, custody, and control pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 9-8-307(a)(1)(E). Instead, the State asserted that Mr. Mosley's claim falls under subsection (a)(1)(N), which permits the Commission to preside over cases involving a " negligent deprivation of statutory rights" only when the claimant demonstrates that the legislature " expressly conferred a private right of action in favor of the claimant against the state for the state's violation of the particular statute's provisions." To that end, the State argued that Mr. Mosley had not, and could not, demonstrate that a private right of action existed. Because no private right of action existed, the State argued that the Commission lacked subject matter jurisdiction to preside over the claim. In addition, the State contended that Mr. Mosley's claims also must be dismissed because he failed to pursue both a declaratory order with TDOC and a declaratory judgment action with the Davidson County Chancery Court.
Mr. Mosley responded to the State's motion to dismiss on April 1, 2014. He argued that the claim was properly cast as a claim for damages arising from the State's negligent care, custody, and control. Mr. Mosley also stated that, if the Commission was " inclined to grant the State's ...