MARK T. THOMAS
RICHARD J. MYERS ET AL.
Session September 18, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Shelby County No. CT-004397-15
William B. Acree, Senior Judge
a legal malpractice case. Appellees, who are licensed
attorneys, represented Appellant in a trademark infringement
and consumer protection lawsuit in federal court that
resulted in a judgment against Appellant. On October 21,
2015, more than a year after the federal court judgment,
Appellant filed a complaint for misrepresentation and
negligence against Appellees. The trial court interpreted
Appellant's claims against Appellees as a legal
malpractice action and granted Appellees' motion for
summary judgment on the ground that the one-year statute of
limitations had expired prior to commencement of the action.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-3-104(c)(1). We affirm the trial
court's judgment and remand.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Court Affirmed and Remanded
E. Ragsdale, William R. Bruce, Memphis, Tennessee, for the
appellant, Mark T. Thomas.
Richard Glassman, Lacey Adair Bishop, Lauran G. Stimac,
Clinton Crosier, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees,
Richard J. Myers, and Apperson Crump, PLC.
Armstrong, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
Arnold B. Goldin and Brandon O. Gibson, JJ., joined.
March 2012, Richard Myers and the law firm of Apperson Crump,
PLC (together, "Appellees") represented Mark Thomas
("Appellant") in a trademark infringement and
consumer protection case in federal court ("federal
suit"). Mr. Thomas was the defendant in the federal
suit, and Fontaine Taylor was the plaintiff; both Mr. Thomas
and Ms. Taylor are real estate agents. In the federal suit,
Ms. Taylor alleged that Mr. Thomas' real estate sign was
nearly identical to hers, infringed on her trademark, and
violated the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act
("TCPA"). After a jury trial, the district court
entered judgment in favor of Ms. Taylor on April 28, 2014.
Ms. Taylor was awarded $36, 500.00 in damages under the TCPA,
$60, 770.00 for Mr. Thomas' violation of the Lanham Act,
and an additional $36, 500.00 because Mr. Thomas'
violation of the TCPA was done knowingly. Ms. Taylor also
received a judgment for $237, 982.01 in attorney's fees
and $9, 901.01 in additional costs. In addition, Ms. Taylor
was granted a permanent injunction enjoining Mr. Thomas from
using the skyline sign. Mr. Thomas appealed to the Sixth
Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the district
court's award on August 3, 2015.
October 21, 2015, Mr. Thomas filed a Complaint in the Shelby
County Circuit Court ("trial court") against
Appellees for misrepresentation and negligence in connection
with Appellees' representation in the federal suit. A
month later, on November 20, 2015, Mr. Thomas amended his
Complaint to add a claim for violation of the TCPA. On
January 20, 2016, Mr. Thomas non-suited the negligence claims
and proceeded on the misrepresentation and the TCPA claims.
Appellees filed their Answer on January 27, 2016.
21, 2016, Appellees filed a Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure
12.02 motion to dismiss the TCPA claim and a motion for
summary judgment on the misrepresentation claims. In the
motion for summary judgment, Appellees argued that the
Appellant's claims sounded in legal malpractice and that
the statute of limitations for legal malpractice had run. Mr.
Thomas opposed these motions. The trial court heard the
motions on November 2, 2016, and granted Appellees'
motions by order of November 9, 2016. Specifically, the trial
court: (1) denied Mr. Thomas' motion for partial summary
judgment finding that the case sounded in legal malpractice
not misrepresentation; (2) granted Appellees' Rule 12.02
motion dismissing the TCPA claim; and (3) granted
Appellees' motion for summary judgment on the legal
malpractice claim finding that Mr. Thomas' lawsuit was
barred by the one year statute of limitations. Mr. Thomas
argument, Appellant conceded this is solely a legal
malpractice action. Therefore, we perceive that the sole
dispositive issue is: Whether the trial court erred in
granting summary judgment on the ground that the statute of
limitations for Appellant's legal malpractice action had
Standard of Review
court's decision to grant a motion for summary judgment
presents a question of law. Therefore, our review is de novo
with no presumption of correctness afforded to the trial
court's determination. Bain v. Wells, 936 S.W.2d
618, 622 (Tenn. 1997). This Court must make a fresh
determination that all requirements of Tennessee Rule of
Civil Procedure 56 have been satisfied. Abshure v.
Methodist Healthcare-Memphis Hosps., 325 S.W.3d 98, 103
(Tenn. 2010). When a motion for summary judgment is made, the
moving party has the burden of showing that "there is no