JOSEPH O'SHIELDS, ET AL.
CITY OF MEMPHIS, ET AL.
January 17, 2017
from the Chancery Court for Shelby County No. CH-12-1233-1
Walter L. Evans, Chancellor.
issue on appeal in this case is whether the City of Memphis
unlawfully assessed a tax on real property located in a newly
annexed area of the city in 2012. The plaintiffs are property
owners in the annexed area who argue that the city had no
authority to assess property taxes in the area for 2012
because its annexation of the area took effect after January
1, 2012. The trial court concluded that the tax was lawful
because the City's annexation of the area took effect
before January 1, 2012 and granted summary judgment in favor
of the defendants. Discerning no error, we affirm.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery
Court Affirmed and Remanded
Richard L. Winchester, Jr., Memphis, Tennessee, for the
appellants, Joseph O'Shields, Tommie Isom, Warren Riggs,
Roy Fisk, and Kenneth Netherton.
J. Wade and Brandy S. Parrish, Memphis, Tennessee, for the
appellees, City of Memphis and Marie Kirk Owens.
B. Goldin, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which
J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., and John W. McClarty, J.,
B. GOLDIN, JUDGE.
and Procedural History
November 20, 2001, the Memphis City Council passed an
ordinance to extend the boundaries of the City of Memphis
(the "City") by annexing the South Cordova area
effective December 31, 2001. On December 18, 2001, Gene B.
Cochran and other residents of South Cordova filed a quo
warranto action to contest the validity of the
annexation ordinance ("Cochran I"). No
other quo warranto actions contesting the validity
of the annexation ordinance were filed within 30 days of the
passing of the ordinance. On April 20, 2011, the trial court
entered an order dismissing Cochran I due to the
plaintiffs' failure to prosecute the case. The
Cochran I plaintiffs filed a post-judgment motion to
set aside the dismissal, and the trial court entered a final
order denying the post-judgment motion on June 28, 2011. No
appeal was taken from the dismissal of Cochran I.
5, 2011, the Cochran I plaintiffs filed a second
quo warranto action to contest the annexation
ordinance ("Cochran II"). On May 16, 2012,
the trial court entered an order dismissing Cochran
II for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. The Cochran II plaintiffs appealed, and
this Court affirmed the dismissal. See Cochran v. City of
Memphis, No. W2012-01346-COA-R3-CV, 2013 WL 1122803
(Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 19, 2013).
present case was initiated on July 31, 2012 when Joseph
O'Shields and other owners of property in South Cordova,
individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated,
filed a complaint against the City and Marie Kirk Owens, in
her capacity as treasurer, seeking a refund of property taxes
collected from property owner's in the annexed area by
the City in 2012 as well as other costs and
fees. The plaintiffs asserted that the City had
no legal authority to assess or collect taxes on real
property located in South Cordova in 2012 because the area
was not within the City's limits on January 1, 2012.
See Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-5-504(a) ("All
assessments of real property . . . shall be made annually and
as of January 1 for the year to which the assessment
applies[.]"). The defendants filed a motion to dismiss,
in which they argued that the taxes were lawful because the
City's annexation of South Cordova took effect 31 days
after the entry of the final judgment in Cochran I
on June 28, 2011.
a period of discovery, both parties filed motions for summary
judgment. In support of their motion, the defendants
submitted portions of the record from Cochran I
demonstrating that a final judgment was entered in that case
on June 28, 2011, and no appeal was taken therefrom. The
defendants argued that, by statute, the annexation ordinance
took effect 31 days later, on July 29, 2011. See
Tenn. Code Ann. § 6-51-103(d)(1). In support of their
motion, the plaintiffs submitted evidence intending to
demonstrate that the annexation ordinance took effect, at the
earliest, on July 1, 2012. According to the evidence
introduced by the plaintiffs, residents of South Cordova paid
monthly fire protection fees to Shelby County through June
2012. The City began providing primary emergency and waste
removal services to the South Cordova area on July 1, 2012.
Around the same time, the residents of South Cordova received
a letter, dated June 29, 2012, from the City's mayor that
stated in part, "As the Mayor of Memphis, let me be the