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Nyrstar Tennessee Mines-Strawberry Plains, LLC v. Claiborne Hauling, LLC

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

November 29, 2017

NYRSTAR TENNESSEE MINES-STRAWBERRY PLAINS, LLC
v.
CLAIBORNE HAULING, LLC, DBA CLAIBORNE TRUCKING, LLC

          Assigned on Briefs June 1, 2017

         Appeal from the Chancery Court for Knox County No. 188408-1 John F. Weaver, Chancellor

         This case involves a motion for attorney's fees filed by Nyrstar Tennessee Mines - Strawberry Plains, LLC. Nyrstar and Claiborne Trucking, LLC are parties to a contract. Nyrstar prevailed in an underlying breach of contract action against Claiborne. After prevailing in the underlying case, Nyrstar filed a motion asking to be awarded its attorney's fees pursuant to the parties' contract. The issue before us is whether the language of the contract is sufficient to allow Nyrstar to seek fees. The trial court held that the language is not sufficiently specific to create a contractual right to recover attorney's fees. Nyrstar appeals. We affirm.

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

          Hugh B. Ward, Jr. and Mindy L. Nower, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Nyrstar Tennessee Mines-Strawberry Plains, LLC.

          Ben D. Cunningham, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Claiborne Hauling, LLC.

          Charles D. Susano, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which W. Neal McBrayer and Arnold B. Goldin, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR., JUDGE

         I.

         Nyrstar, a seller of rock from its mines, entered into a contract to sell specified qualities of rock to Claiborne. Based upon unpaid invoices, Nyrstar filed a breach of contract action. Nyrstar prevailed in the underlying action, and the court awarded Nyrstar $116, 073.43. After prevailing in the breach of contract case, Nyrstar filed a motion for attorney's fees and expenses. In its motion, Nyrstar requested $109, 761.62, which included (a) $106, 779.50 for attorney's fees and (b) $2, 982.12 for expenses.

         Nyrstar claims to be entitled to attorney's fees based upon the following provision in the contract:

         13. Costs

The Customer must pay Nyrstar all costs and expenses incurred by Nyrstar in connection with enforcing its rights against the Customer under an Agreement including legal expenses and other costs incurred in ...

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