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Simmons v. Cheadle

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

October 19, 2017

TRAY SIMMONS
v.
JOHN CHEADLE, ET AL.

          Session August 16, 2017

         Direct Appeal from the Circuit Court for Davidson County No. 15C4276 Mitchell Keith Siskin, Judge

         This appeal involves a dispute between a judgment debtor and the attorneys for the judgment creditor. In an effort to collect on a final judgment, attorneys for the judgment creditor served the judgment debtor with a notice of deposition. After some discussion, it became clear that the debtor failed to bring the requested documents with him to the deposition, and the attorneys for the creditor refused to go forward with the deposition that day. The debtor then filed this separate lawsuit, pro se, against the creditor's attorneys alleging that they had taken an "unlawful deposition" of him. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the attorneys for the judgment creditor. We affirm.

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

          Tray Simmons, Hermitage, Tennessee, Pro se.

          Paul M. Buchanan, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, John Roaten Cheadle, Jr., and Mary Barnard Cheadle.

          Brandon O. Gibson, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Arnold B. Goldin, and Kenny Armstrong, J.J., joined.

          OPINION

          BRANDON O. GIBSON, JUDGE

         I. Facts & Procedural History

         Appellant Tray Simmons attended Middle Tennessee State University ("MTSU") from 1988 until 1993. During that time, Mr. Simmons funded his education by obtaining student loans from MTSU. When Mr. Simmons defaulted on these loans, MTSU employed attorneys John Cheadle and Mary Barnard Cheadle (collectively "Counsel") to assist in recovering the past-due balance. To that end, MTSU, by and through Counsel, filed suit against Mr. Simmons, and in 2011 the trial court entered a judgment against Mr. Simmons for repayment of the student loan. Mr. Simmons appealed this judgment to the Court of Appeals. We affirmed the ruling of the trial court. See Middle Tennessee State University v. Simmons, No. M2011-00825-COA-R3-CV, 2012 WL 2244821 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2012).[1]

         Although MTSU successfully secured a judgment against Mr. Simmons for the balance of his student loans, Mr. Simmons paid nothing to satisfy the judgment. (Exhibit CD) Therefore, in October 2014, Counsel served Mr. Simmons with a post-judgment notice of deposition in an attempt to discover assets. The notice of deposition provided that the deposition would be held on October 30, 2014, at Counsel's office, and that Mr. Simmons was required to bring several documents related to his financial status, including his tax returns and bank statements.

         The events that transpired at Counsel's office on October 30, 2014, form the basis of the current lawsuit. Mr. Simmons recorded at least part of the exchange between himself and Mary Cheadle while he was at Counsel's office. Portions of the recorded discussion between Mary Cheadle and Mr. Simmons (which was transcribed by the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility[2]) are set forth below:

Cheadle: Do you have your driver's license on you today?
Simmons: Yes, why?
Cheadle: May I take a look at it?
Simmons: Uh, no . . . I refuse. . . .
Cheadle: That's one of the documents I'm going to have to look at to do this deposition.
. . . .
Simmons: Well I mean can you tell me . . . why in your letter, why didn't you . . . request that.
Cheadle: Okay, well that's your identification.
Simmons: It's one of the identifications. I have many.
. . . .
Cheadle: Did you bring any tax returns?
Simmons: I don't have any tax returns.
. . . .
Cheadle: Alright, where you living at?
Simmons: 4200 Rachel Donelson Pass.
Cheadle: Alright, and where are you ...

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