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Cash v. Turner Holdings LLC

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

July 12, 2017

KEVIN CASH
v.
TURNER HOLDINGS LLC A/K/A PRAIRIE FARMS DAIRY INC.

          June 29, 2017 Session

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Shelby County No. CT-001140-15 James F. Russell, Judge

         This case involves the application of the doctrine of res judicata. Appellant filed a complaint against appellee alleging retaliatory discharge, fraud, and intentional infliction of emotional distress in the first lawsuit. The trial court granted appellee's Rule 12.02(6) motion to dismiss "in its entirety." Appellant thereafter filed a second lawsuit against appellee alleging the same causes of action. The trial court granted summary judgment to appellee based on the doctrine of res judicata. Discerning no error, we affirm.

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

          Terrell L. Tooten, Cordova, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kevin Cash.

          Robert D. Meyers and Meghan K. McMahon, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Turner Holdings LLC a/k/a Prairie Farms Dairy Inc.

          J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Brandon O. Gibson, and Kenny Armstrong, JJ., joined.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION [1]

          J. STEVEN STAFFORD, JUDGE.

         Background

         Because this case was decided on summary judgment, the facts are largely undisputed and are taken from the statement of undisputed facts contained in the record. On July 31, 2014, Kevin Cash filed a complaint in the Shelby County Circuit Court against his former employer, Turner Holdings LLC a/k/a Prairie Farms Dairy Inc. ("Turner"), alleging retaliatory discharge, fraud, and intentional infliction of emotional distress stemming from an alleged on-the-job injury for which Mr. Cash filed a worker's compensation claim.[2] On August 25, 2014, Turner filed a Rule 12.02(6) motion to dismiss Mr. Cash's claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, citing the exclusive remedy provisions of the Tennessee Workers' Compensation law, Mr. Cash's failure to "plead direct factual allegations, " and the applicable statute of limitations. On October 14, 2014, Mr. Cash filed an amended complaint in order to correct any deficiencies. The trial court held a hearing on the motion on November 7, 2014, made oral rulings at the conclusion of the hearing, and granted Turner's motion to dismiss. The trial court entered an order on November 20, 2014, with a transcript of the hearing attached as an exhibit, "grant[ing the motion] in its entirety" and dismissing the case.

         Approximately six months later, on March 18, 2015, Mr. Cash filed the instant complaint in the same court alleging the same causes of action against Turner. On April 15, 2015, Turner filed an answer, denying all material allegations contained in the complaint and raising various defenses. On June 3, 2015, Turner filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that Mr. Cash's claims were barred by the doctrine of res judicata because "the November 2014 order was a final adjudication on the merits, the parties in the two lawsuits are the same, and [Mr. Cash]'s claims in both lawsuits are similar and based on the same factual allegations." Several contentious filings ensued.

         On September 23, 2016, the trial court conducted a hearing on Turner's motion for summary judgment. In its ruling, the trial court clarified that the sole issue before it was whether the grant of the motion to dismiss was a final order dismissing the prior case on the merits. The trial court concluded that Mr. Cash's claims in the instant case were barred by the doctrine of res judicata, granted Turner's motion for summary judgment, and dismissed the case "in its entirety on the merits with prejudice." On October 4, 2016, the trial court entered an order granting summary judgment to Turner. The trial court attached its oral ruling from the hearing as an exhibit. Mr. Cash timely appealed.

         Issues

         Mr. Cash raises the following ...


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