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.

Tennessee Firearms Association v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

June 15, 2017

TENNESSEE FIREARMS ASSOCIATION, ET AL.
v.
METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY, TENNESSEE

          May 17, 2017 Session

         Direct Appeal from the Chancery Court for Davidson County No. 16-332-II Carol L. McCoy, Chancellor

         This appeal involves an attempt to challenge the legality of a gun show ban that was adopted for the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. The trial court dismissed the complaint on numerous alternative grounds. We affirm.

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

          John Isaac Harris, Nashville, Tennessee, and Scott L. Braun and Timothy R. Rudd, Dayton, Ohio, for the appellants, Tennessee Firearms Association, and International Gun-A-Rama, Inc.

          Catherine Jane Pham, and Lora Barkenbus Fox, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee.

          Brandon O. Gibson, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., and Arnold B. Goldin, J., joined.

          OPINION

          BRANDON O. GIBSON, JUDGE.

         I. Facts & Procedural History

         The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County ("Metro") owns and operates the Tennessee State Fairgrounds by and through a Metropolitan Board of Fair Commissioners ("the Board"). Metro generates revenue by renting the Fairground facilities to vendors.

         For over thirty years, International Gun-A-Rama, Inc., d/b/a Bill Goodman's Gun and Knife Show ("Goodman") rented facilities at the Fairgrounds to hold gun and knife shows. In November 2015, the Board presented Goodman with a draft proposal that would require additional restrictions at his gun shows beyond those imposed by state and federal law, such as prohibitions on sales between private parties at the gun shows. Apparently, Goodman and his attorney indicated that they would oppose any such restrictions. At a public meeting of the Board on December 1, 2015, the Board voted to terminate all existing contracts with gun show promoters and to prohibit any additional gun shows at the Fairgrounds until the Board decided otherwise. At its next meeting, in February 2016, the Board was advised by its legal counsel that Goodman had already executed contracts to rent the Fairground facilities through the end of 2016, and no basis existed for terminating those contracts. As such, the Board decided to honor the existing contracts and let them expire by their terms. However, the Board adhered to its original decision to prohibit the booking of any additional gun shows going forward, beginning with the 2017 calendar year.

         In March 2016, Goodman submitted a request to reserve the Fairground facilities for numerous dates in 2017. The director of events for the Fairgrounds notified Goodman that he could not book any 2017 dates for gun shows "by the current directive of the Fair Board."

         On April 5, 2016, Goodman and the Tennessee Firearms Association ("TFA") jointly filed a complaint for declaratory judgment in the chancery court of Davidson County. According to the complaint, TFA is a nonprofit corporation formed to promote the right to keep and bear arms, with members consisting primarily of residents of the State of Tennessee. As "Count I, " the complaint alleged that the Board's recent decision to ban gun shows at the Fairgrounds constituted "a de facto local limitation on the legal transfer of firearms" in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-1314(a), which provides:

Except as otherwise provided by state law or as specifically provided in subsection (b), the general assembly preempts the whole field of the regulation of firearms, ammunition, or components of firearms or ammunition, or combinations thereof including, but not limited to, the use, purchase, transfer, taxation, manufacture, ownership, possession, carrying, sale, acquisition, gift, devise, licensing, registration, storage, and transportation thereof, to the exclusion of all county, city, town, municipality, or metropolitan government law, ordinances, resolutions, enactments or regulation. No county, city, town, municipality, or metropolitan government nor any local agency, department, or official shall occupy any part of the field regulation of firearms, ammunition or components of firearms or ammunition, or combinations thereof.

         As "Count II, " the complaint alleged that the Board was not authorized to ban gun shows at the Fairgrounds pursuant to section 11.602(d) of the Metro Charter, which provides:

All activities being conducted on the premises of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds as of December 31, 2010, including, but not limited to, the Tennessee State Fair, Expo Center Events, Flea Markets, and Auto Racing, shall be continued on the same site. No demolition of the premises shall be allowed to occur without approval by ordinance receiving 27 votes by the Metropolitan Council or amendment to the Metropolitan Charter.

         The plaintiffs sought a declaration that the Board was precluded from adopting a blanket ban on gun shows at the Fairgrounds by both the Metro Charter provision and the aforementioned statute. They sought an order requiring Metro to make its facilities available to Goodman and to other gun show promoters without the imposition of any additional restrictions. They also sought an award of "nominal damages" against Metro based on its imposition of unauthorized restrictions on the transfer of firearms. On May 19, 2016, the trial court granted the plaintiffs' motion for a restraining order preventing Metro from taking any action to make the 2017 dates requested by Goodman unavailable for booking.

         Metro filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on numerous grounds, including lack of standing and failure to state a claim. Metro submitted numerous provisions of the Metro Charter for the court's consideration. In opposition to the plaintiffs' request for injunctive relief, Metro also submitted to the court the minutes and transcripts of the Board's meetings, an affidavit from the director of the Fairgrounds, Goodman's previous rental contract, a list of events held at the Fairgrounds in 2010, and other documents.

         After a hearing, the trial court entered a written order on July 20, 2016, denying the plaintiffs' request for injunctive relief, dissolving the restraining order, and granting Metro's motion to dismiss. The order states that the trial court considered the parties' motions and briefs, the affidavit of the director of the Fairgrounds, the previous contract, the records of the Board meetings, the list of events at the Fairgrounds in 2010, and other documents. Ultimately, the trial court found that dismissal of the complaint was warranted on numerous grounds. The trial court found that TFA lacked standing because it had no interest in Goodman's rental contracts with the Board. In addition, the trial court found that the Board "was acting pursuant to state law authority" when it decided whether to approve a gun show in its capacity as administrator of the Fairground premises, pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-1311. The trial court also found that the plaintiffs' interpretation of the Metro Charter provision was inconsistent with the intent and language of the provision itself. The trial court found that "[t]he voters desired that the types of activities that are mentioned in the Charter Amendment would continue, but they did not seek to restrict the Fair Board's ability to set the terms and conditions upon which those activities would be conducted." Alternatively, the trial court found that the plaintiffs had no "private right of action" to enforce the Metro Charter provision that was allegedly violated. For all of these reasons, the trial court dismissed the plaintiffs' complaint.

         The plaintiffs timely filed a notice of appeal on August 19, 2016. That same day, the plaintiffs also filed a "Motion to Amend Final Order." The motion to amend asserted that the trial court "erred in its application of the law" and should have denied the motion to dismiss. After analyzing each of the trial court's rulings, the motion asked the court to "reconsider and amend" its order. After a hearing, the trial court denied the motion to amend on the basis that it "simply [sought] to relitigate issues" that were already adjudicated. The plaintiffs then filed an amended notice of appeal.

         II. Issues Presented

         The plaintiffs present the following issues for review on appeal:

1. Whether the trial court erred in granting Metro's Rule 12.02(6) motion to dismiss; and
2. Whether the trial court erred in denying the plaintiffs' Rule 59.04 motion to ...

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.