Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Henderson v. City of Mount Pleasant

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

November 28, 2016

MARK HENDERSON
v.
CITY OF MOUNT PLEASANT, TENNESSEE ET AL.

          Session Date: November 1, 2016

         Appeal from the Chancery Court for Maury County No. 15-544 David L. Allen, Judge

         Petitioner, the interim city manager for the City of Mount Pleasant, Tennessee, filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment that the votes of two commissioners to terminate his employment were void due to a conflict of interest. He contends their votes were void because ethics complaints filed by Petitioner against the two commissioners were pending at the time of the vote. The trial court dismissed the petition for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6), upon the finding that the petition failed to allege facts which would show that the commissioners had a personal financial interest in the outcome of the vote on Petitioner's employment. Petitioner appealed; we affirm.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery Court Affirmed

          Mark Henderson, Mount Pleasant, Tennessee, Pro Se.

          Daniel H. Rader IV and Daniel H. Rader III, Cookeville, Tennessee, for the appellees, City of Mount Pleasant, Tennessee; Delores Blankenship; Mike Davis; Ricky Frazier; and Michael Hay.

          John D. Burleson and Matthew R. Courtner, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellees Robert Shackelford and George Vestal.

          Frank G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Richard H. Dinkins and W. Neal McBrayer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          FRANK G. CLEMENT, JR., P.J., M.S.

         On July 21, 2015, the City of Mount Pleasant, Tennessee, through its five member board of commissioners, hired Mark Henderson ("Petitioner") as interim city manager. Over the following months, two city commissioners grew dissatisfied with Petitioner's job performance, and at a meeting on October 2, 2015, Commissioners Ricky Frazier and Delores Blankenship moved to terminate Petitioner's employment. However, this motion failed by a vote of 2-3.

         Thereafter, Petitioner filed ethics complaints against Commissioners Frazier and Blankenship with the city attorney, Quinn Brandon Stewart. Ms. Stewart notified the commissioners of the complaints and began an investigation into the allegations.

         On November 3, 2015, the board of commissioners held a special meeting "to discuss and act upon the interim city manager's position." At the beginning of this meeting, Ms. Stewart advised the Commission that, in her legal opinion, it would be a conflict of interest for Commissioners Frazier and Blankenship to vote on any issue involving Petitioner given that the ethics complaints he filed against them were pending. Thereafter, a motion was made to appoint Petitioner as permanent city manager under the same contractual terms as the previous city manager for a term of one year. Despite Ms. Stewart's opinion, Commissioners Frazier and Blankenship participated in the vote on this motion, which resulted in the motion's failure by a 2-3 vote. Commissioner Frazier then moved to terminate Petitioner. This motion passed 3-2, with Commissioners Frazier and Blankenship once again participating in the vote. Commissioners Frazier and Blankenship subsequently moved to hire a new interim city manager, which motion also passed 3-2.

         The following day, Petitioner notified Ms. Stewart that it was his position that he had been elected permanent city manager at the November 3, 2015, meeting. Petitioner argued that the votes of Commissioners Frazier and Blankenship were void as a result of their conflict of interest; therefore, the initial motion to make Petitioner permanent city manager passed by a 2-1 vote.

         Petitioner then filed a petition with the Maury County Chancery Court under Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-14-103, naming the City of Mount Pleasant, Commissioner Frazier, and Commissioner Blankenship as respondents.[1] The petition sought a declaratory judgment that the votes of Commissioners Frazier and Blankenship on November 3, 2015, were a nullity due to the ethics complaints pending against them and that the motion to make Petitioner permanent city manager be declared to have passed. Further, the petition requested that the court order specific performance of Petitioner's contract for employment with the city for one year. Petitioner also requested a temporary restraining order preventing the board of commissioners from hiring a permanent city manager pending a final resolution of the matter.

         On December 2, 2015, the respondents filed a joint motion to dismiss the petition for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and a response in opposition to Petitioner's request for a restraining order. This motion argued that, although Tennessee conflict of interest law prevents an elected official from voting on a measure in which they have a personal financial interest, the vote in question did not involve a monetary interest for any of the commissioners and, therefore, did not constitute a conflict of interest as a matter of law. Thus, the respondents argued that the petition failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         Following a hearing on this motion but before the court ruled, Petitioner filed a motion to amend his petition. The proposed amendment sought to add, inter alia, language to the petition relating to the financial interests of Commissioners ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.