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Williams v. State

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

April 23, 2018

EDDISON WILLIAMS
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Session November 14, 2017

          Appeal from the Tennessee Claims Commission No. K20141365 William O. Shults, Commissioner

         This appeal involves the jurisdiction of the Tennessee Claims Commission to hear an action brought by a former medical student, Eddison Williams (claimant), against the Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University. Claimant alleged that the State, acting through medical school officials, "negligently breached its contractual duties regarding following policies before dismissing [him] on disciplinary grounds." He argued his action stated a claim for "negligent care, custody and control of persons, " a category of claims the Commission has jurisdiction to hear under Tenn. Code Ann. § 9-8-307(a)(1)(E) (Supp.2017). The Commission concluded it had no subject matter jurisdiction. We affirm.

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

          George T. Underwood, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Eddison Williams.

          Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter; Andrée S. Blumstein, Solicitor General; and Melissa Brodhag, Senior Counsel, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Charles D. Susano, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which D. Michael Swiney, C.J., and Thomas R. Frierson, II, J., joined.

          CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR., JUDGE

          I.

         Claimant was dismissed from the medical school on January 16, 2014. On August 7, 2014, he filed his complaint against the State, ETSU, and Dr. Kenneth E. Olive, Executive Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs at the medical school, in his official capacity. Claimant alleged that his "permanent dismissal was negligently done by Defendant without a hearing or other university procedures required by the catalog and student hand book." Specifically, the complaint alleges:

The Defendants failed to comply with the due process procedures adopted by E.T.S.U. in its James H. Quillen College of Medicine Student Handbook Student's BILL OF RIGHTS and the due process requirements of the Tennessee Board of Regents and such failures constituted negligence and breach of contract.

         (Capitalization in original.)

         After extensive discovery, the Commission granted the State's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Commission ruled that claimant's action did not fall within the ambit of Tenn. Code Ann. § 9-8-307(a)(1)(E), which provides jurisdiction for monetary claims against the State based on the acts or omissions of its employees falling within the ...


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