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Moses v. Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

July 25, 2017

PAMELA MOSES
v.
SHELBY COUNTY SHERIFF BILL OLDHAM, ET AL.

          Session: June 27, 2017

         Appeal from the Chancery Court for Shelby County No. CH-14-1316 J. Weber McCraw, Judge

         Appellant appeals the dismissal of her action based on the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations and non-compliance with Rule 3 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. Appellant also appeals the trial court's denial of a motion to recuse. Discerning no error, we affirm.

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

          Pamela Moses, Memphis, Tennessee, Pro Se.

          John Marshall Jones, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, Shelby County Sheriff, Bill Oldham & Officers and Shelby County Homeland Security.

          S. Newton Anderson and Cameron M. Watson, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, AlliedBarton Security Services, LLC.

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

          MEMORANDUM OPINION[1]

          J. STEVEN STAFFORD, JUDGE.

         Background

         On September 2, 2014, Plaintiff/Appellant Pamela Moses filed her original petition ("initial petition" or "original petition") for a temporary restraining order and injunctive relief against Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham & Officers, Shelby County Homeland Security (together with Sheriff Oldham & Officers, "Shelby County Defendants"), and AlliedBarton Security Services LLC ("AlliedBarton, " or, together with the Shelby County Defendants, "Appellees") in the Shelby County Chancery Court ("trial court"). Thereafter, Ms. Moses removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee ("district court") on September 15, 2014. However, on March 2, 2015, the district court remanded the matter back to the trial court because "[r]emoval is available only to defendants[.]" On August 28, 2015, Ms. Moses filed a supplemental petition.

         On September 23, 2015, the Shelby County Defendants made a special appearance to assert that they had not been served with process and filed a motion to dismiss both the original and supplemental petitions. The Shelby County Defendants supported their motion to dismiss with an affidavit from Alissa Holt, the manager of the Office of the Chancery Court Clerk. According to Ms. Holt's affidavit:

5.[Ms.] Moses filed her [initial petition] on September 2, 2014.
6. With respect to [Ms. Moses's] original Petition, no request for the issuance of service of process for "Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham & Officers" has been made to the Clerk and Master during the period from September 2, 2014 (the date of the filing of the original Petition) through September 9, 2015, the date I reviewed the file. Therefore, only with respect to [Ms. Moses's] original Petition, no Summons for "Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham & Officers" has been issued by the Clerk and Master during the time this case has been pending.
7. With respect to [Ms. Moses's] original Petition, no request for the issuance of service of process for "Shelby County Homeland Security" has been made to the Clerk and Master during the period from September 2, 2014 (the date of the filing of the original Petition) through September 9, 2015, the date I reviewed the file. Therefore, only with respect to [Ms. Moses's] original Petition, no Summons for "Shelby County Homeland Security" has been issued by the Clerk and Master during the time this case has been pending.

         Thus, Ms. Holt stated that no summons had been issued to any of the Shelby County Defendants within one year of the filing of Ms. Moses's initial petition.

         Similarly, on October 19, 2015, AlliedBarton made a special appearance to assert that it had not been served with process. AlliedBarton subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the original and supplemental petitions on November 17, 2015. The motion was accompanied by another affidavit from Ms. Holt, which stated that "[w]ith respect to the petitioner's original petition filed September 2, 2014, the only summons issued to AlliedBarton [] was filed and issued on September 24, 2015[.]"

         On October 15, 2015, the trial court entered an order denying Ms. Moses's request for injunctive relief "for her alleged denial of reasonable access to the courts and other buildings as well as her alleged harassment by various law enforcement agencies and its agents in public buildings as well as in other public places." The trial court noted that the allegations raised by Ms. Moses involved events that occurred over a year prior and therefore Ms. Moses did not show any irreparable harm at the present time.

         Thereafter, on November 25, 2015, Ms. Moses filed a motion to disqualify the trial judge based on his knowledge as the presiding judge over a prior criminal court case against her; the trial court promptly denied her motion by written order on December 3, 2015, finding that Ms. Moses failed to raise any extrajudicial bias sufficient to warrant recusal.

         After a hearing on May 13, 2016, the trial court entered an order on the same day dismissing both Ms. Moses's original and supplemental petitions.[2] Therein, the trial court found that Ms. Moses's petition was not accompanied by any summons as required by the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure at the time of filing or within one year of the filing of the original petition. As a result, the trial court found that Ms. Moses's claims in her original petition were time-barred. The trial court also rejected the following arguments made by Ms. Moses: (1) that the limitations period should have been tolled because Ms. Moses removed the petition to district court; (2) that Ms. Moses should be allowed to proceed on the supplemental petition despite the fact that Ms. Moses did not obtain leave of court to file such pleading; and (3) that estoppel should apply for excusable neglect. Ms. Moses filed a timely notice of appeal to this Court.

         Issues Presented

         Ms. Moses raises six issues in her appellate brief. In our view, however, there ...


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