Session: May 24, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Davidson County No. 15C-1163
Thomas W. Brothers, Judge
customer at a car dealership filed suit against the sales
manager and others for injuries she allegedly sustained due
to an assault and battery by the sales manager. The trial
court granted summary judgment to Defendants because
Plaintiff failed to submit any affidavits setting forth
specific facts that showed a genuine issue existed for trial,
as required by Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 56.
Plaintiff argues that the trial court erred in granting
summary judgment to Defendants. Perceiving no reversible
error, we affirm the trial court's order granting summary
judgment to Defendants.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Deborah Lacy, Madison, Tennessee, Pro Se.
Bryan Brooks and Lisa Marie Woods, Nashville, Tennessee, for
the appellees, Hallmark Jeep Inc., Hallmark Volkswagen Inc.
at Rivergate, and Scott Masters.
D. Bennett, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which
Frank G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S., and Richard H. Dinkins,
D. BENNETT, JUDGE.
Factual and Procedural Background
March 29, 2014, Deborah Lacy ("Ms. Lacy") entered
Hallmark Volkswagen Inc. at Rivergate ("Hallmark
Volkswagen"), a Hallmark Jeep, Inc. dealership, in order
to purchase a new vehicle. Cian Rourke ("Mr.
Rourke"), a salesman at Hallmark Volkswagen, assisted
Ms. Lacy with the purchase of a 2014 Volkswagen Passat.
Following a twenty-minute test drive, Ms. Lacy and Mr. Rourke
entered his office and completed paperwork pertaining to the
sale of the vehicle. Scott Masters ("Mr. Masters"),
a sales manager at Hallmark Volkswagen, joined Ms. Lacy and
Mr. Rourke to assist in finalizing the sale.
one year later, on March 26, 2015, Ms. Lacy filed a complaint
in the First Circuit Court for Davidson County against
Hallmark Volkswagen, Hallmark Jeep, Inc., James Cameron III,
Mr. Masters (collectively "the Defendants"),
claiming that Mr. Masters assaulted and battered her at the
completion of the sale. Ms. Lacy further alleged that Mr.
Masters violated her human and civil rights, "while
placing her under fear, duress, and Physical [anguish] . . .
." Because Ms. Lacy had another case pending in the
Sixth Circuit Court, this case was transferred to that court.
Following discovery, the Defendants filed a motion for
summary judgment on all of Ms. Lacy's claims, supported
by a statement of undisputed facts and the affidavits of Mr.
Masters and Mr. Rourke. The trial court granted summary
judgment to the Defendants on all of Ms. Lacy's claims.
Ms. Lacy appeals.
Lacy's appellate brief fails to present a clear issue for
our review. Despite this deficiency, however, we discern that
Ms. Lacy raises the following issues: (1) whether the trial
court erred in granting summary judgment to the Defendants,
(2) whether the trial court abused its discretion when it
transferred the case to the Sixth Circuit, and (3) whether
the trial court erred in denying Ms. Lacy's statement of
evidence. As a preliminary matter, we address the issue
raised by the Defendants: whether the appellate brief
submitted by Ms. Lacy complies with the applicable rules of
Appellate Brief Requirements
begin by noting that Ms. Lacy is a pro se litigant. This
Court has stated the following principles about pro se
Parties who decide to represent themselves are entitled to
fair and equal treatment by the courts. The courts should
take into account that many pro se litigants have no legal
training and little familiarity with the judicial system.
However, the courts must also be mindful of the boundary
between fairness to a pro se litigant and unfairness to the
pro se litigant's adversary. Thus, the courts must not
excuse pro se litigants from complying with the same
substantive and procedural rules that represented parties are
expected to observe.
Young v. Barrow, 130 S.W.3d 59, 62-63 (Tenn. Ct.
App. 2003) (citations omitted); see also Hessmer v.
Hessmer, 138 S.W.3d 901, 903 (Tenn. Ct App. 2003).
Additionally, we allow pro se litigants some latitude in
preparing their briefs by applying less exacting standards
than those applied to briefs drafted by lawyers.
Young, 130 S.W.3d at 63.
addition to arguing that the trial court properly granted
summary judgment, the Defendants assert that we should affirm
the trial court's grant of summary judgment because Ms.
Lacy's appellate brief fails to comply with the
requirements of Rule 27 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate
Procedure or Rule 6 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals.
Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 27 governs the content
of appellate briefs. Subsection (a) of that rule identifies
the requirements for the appellant's brief and provides,
in pertinent part, as follows:
The brief of the appellant shall contain under appropriate
headings and in the ...