Assigned on Briefs April 3, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Wayne County No. 2015-CV-5581
Stella L. Hargrove, Judge
inmate in the custody of the Tennessee Department of
Correction filed this lawsuit against three prison employees
seeking to recover certain personal property. The trial court
dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice based on the
inmate's failure to comply with Tennessee Code Annotated
section 41-21-805, which requires inmates wanting to proceed
in forma pauperis to submit to the trial court a
complete list of every previous lawsuit or claim filed by the
inmate. Discerning no error, we affirm.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Court Affirmed and Remanded
Timothy Roberson, Clifton, Tennessee, Pro se.
I. Pentecost, J. Austin Stokes, and Jonathan D. Buckner,
Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellees, Cherry Lindamood,
Bruce L. Woods, and Wanda Spears.
B. Goldin, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which
Frank G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S., and John W. McClarty, J.,
B. GOLDIN, JUDGE.
Roberson is an inmate at South Central Correctional Facility
in Clifton, Tennessee. On September 15, 2015, Mr. Roberson
filed a complaint against three employees of that facility in
the Wayne County Chancery Court, alleging that they were
responsible for his loss of legal documents related to his
criminal trial and conviction. Along with the complaint, Mr.
Roberson submitted a Uniform Civil Affidavit of Indigency
stating his inability to pay the costs of the litigation
pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 20-12-127 and a
certified copy of his trust fund account statement pursuant
to Tennessee Code Annotated section 41-21-807. He did not,
however, submit a list of his previous lawsuits and claims
pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 41-21-805. On
October 15, 2015, the defendants filed an answer in which
they generally denied the allegations of Mr. Roberson's
15, 2016, the defendants filed a motion seeking the dismissal
of Mr. Roberson's complaint based on his failure to
comply with Tennessee Code Annotated section 41-21-805. Mr.
Roberson responded by filing an affidavit purporting to
contain information setting forth all of the lawsuits and
claims that he had previously filed. The affidavit contained
information for two previous lawsuits: a legal malpractice
action filed in Davidson County Circuit Court and a 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 claim filed in federal court. In response, the
defendants then asserted that Mr. Roberson's affidavit
was insufficient because it failed to list all of his prior
lawsuits. In support of their contentions, the defendants
submitted records from two habeas corpus lawsuits not
disclosed in Mr. Roberson's affidavit.
a hearing, the trial court granted the defendants' motion
and dismissed Mr. Roberson's complaint without prejudice.
Mr. Roberson timely filed a notice of appeal to this Court.
appeal, Mr. Roberson contends that the trial court erred in
dismissing his complaint based on noncompliance with the
requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated section 41-21-805.
Our resolution of that issue will necessarily involve the
interpretation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 41-21-805.
When determining the meaning of a statute, our primary
objective "is to carry out legislative intent without
broadening or restricting the statute beyond its intended
scope." Ellithorpe v. Weismark, 479 S.W.3d 818,
826 (Tenn. 2015). We must look first to the text of the
statute and give the words used in the statute "their
natural and ordinary meaning in the context in which they
appear and in light of the statute's general
purpose." Mills v. Fulmarque, Inc., 360 S.W.3d
362, 368 (Tenn. 2012). When the words of the statute are
clear and unambiguous, "we apply the plain meaning
without complicating the task and enforce the statute as
written." Ellithorpe, 479 S.W.3d at 826
(citations omitted). Finally, we may presume that the