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Gilliam v. Blankenbecler

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

December 19, 2017

DANNY E. GILLIAM
v.
FRANCES A. BLANKENBECLER

          Session August 8, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Washington County No. 35366 Jean A. Stanley, Judge.

         This case involves the dismissal, on the basis of res judicata, of the plaintiff Danny Gilliam's breach of contract case against the defendant Frances Blankenbecler. In an earlier case involving the same parties, the trial court dismissed the plaintiff's complaint based upon his failure to comply with the court's order to provide discovery responses. The order of dismissal in that first case did not state whether the dismissal was with or without prejudice. After the plaintiff refiled the same case, the trial court dismissed the case on the basis of res judicata. The plaintiff appeals. We affirm.

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

          Thomas C. Jessee, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Danny E. Gilliam.

          Douglas J. Carter and Adam J. Haselsteiner, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellee, Frances A. Blankenbecler.

          Charles D. Susano, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Richard H. Dinkins and Thomas R. Frierson, II, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR., JUDGE.

         I.

         The plaintiff and defendant entered into an oral agreement to jointly purchase real property. The defendant allegedly failed to pay his share of the down payment and failed to contribute his share of mortgage payments and repairs. The plaintiff filed a breach of contract action alleging that the defendant had breached their oral contract and the terms of the purchase and sales agreement for the property.

         During the course of the first case, the defendant filed a motion to compel discovery. The court granted the motion and ordered the plaintiff to provide discovery responses within fifteen days. The plaintiff failed to provide the court-ordered responses.

         Rule 37.02 governs sanctions for failure to comply with a discovery order. The rule states, in pertinent part, as follows:

If a . . . party . . . fails to provide or permit discovery . . . the court in which the action is pending may make such orders in regard to the failure as are just, and among others the following:
(C) An order . . . dismissing the action or proceeding or any part thereof, or rendering a judgment by default against ...

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