CARL LESTER BYRD, JR.
APPALACHIAN ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE
Session January 16, 2018
from the Circuit Court for Jefferson County No. 24, 369
Deborah C. Stevens, Judge 
trial court dismissed the plaintiff's claim of outrageous
conduct/intentional infliction of emotional distress filed
against his employer because the plaintiff had previously
filed a workers' compensation claim against the employer,
seeking compensation for injuries arising out of the same
incident. The plaintiff has appealed the dismissal of his
claim. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm the trial
court's judgment of dismissal. We decline
Appalachian's request for an award of attorney's
fees, determining that Mr. Byrd's appeal was not
frivolous or taken solely for delay.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Court Affirmed; Case Remanded
Lester Byrd, Jr., New Market, Tennessee, Pro Se.
Stuart Scott, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee,
Appalachian Electric Cooperative.
R. Frierson, II, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which D. Michael Swiney, C.J., and Charles D. Susano, Jr.,
R. FRIERSON, II, JUDGE
Factual and Procedural Background
plaintiff, Carl Lester Byrd, Jr., filed a complaint on June
17, 2015, in the Jefferson County Circuit Court ("trial
court"), alleging that the defendant, Appalachian
Electric Cooperative ("Appalachian") should be held
liable for outrageous conduct and intentional infliction of
emotional distress. Mr. Byrd asserted that he had been
employed by Appalachian since October 14, 1996. The incident
giving rise to Mr. Byrd's complaint occurred on June 23,
complaint, Mr. Byrd alleged that when he reported to work on
that date, he was instructed to meet with Appalachian's
general manager, Gregory Williams. Upon meeting with Mr.
Williams and Leslie Strader, Director of Human Resources for
Appalachian, Mr. Byrd allegedly was asked about his recent
marriage to Sherry Clifton, who was related to another
Appalachian employee. Mr. Williams informed Mr. Byrd that his
marriage violated Appalachian company policy and instructed
Mr. Byrd that he needed to resign or face immediate
termination. Mr. Byrd claimed that he spent the next three
hours discussing the issue with Mr. Williams in the
conference room and was denied the opportunity to call his
Byrd averred that after three hours of discussion, Mr.
Williams spoke with Appalachian's attorney, who reviewed
the policy and determined that there was no violation. Mr.
Byrd was then allowed to leave the conference room and return
to work. Mr. Byrd averred that because of this
"interrogation" by Mr. Williams, Mr. Byrd
experienced chest pain, shortness of breath, anxiety, and
other symptoms the following day, which necessitated a visit
to the emergency room. Mr. Byrd stated that he had since been
diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and other
maladies following this event and that he had been told by
his medical providers not to return to work.
Byrd claimed that the actions of Mr. Williams constituted
outrageous conduct and intentional infliction of emotional
distress, which caused Mr. Byrd injury. Mr. Byrd sought
compensatory and punitive damages in the total amount of $2,
August 24, 2015, Appalachian filed a "Special Motion to
Dismiss, " contesting the jurisdiction of the trial
court. Appalachian asserted that Mr. Byrd had three claims
pending against Appalachian, including a workers'
compensation claim for injuries allegedly arising from the
same June 23, 2014 incident. Appalachian contended that
pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 50-6-108, Mr.
Byrd was barred from filing a personal injury lawsuit based
on the same injury claimed in his prior workers'
compensation action. Appalachian thus posited that
workers' compensation law provided Mr. Byrd's
exclusive remedy for this alleged injury and that his tort
action should be dismissed.
September 11, 2015, Judge Richard Vance entered an order
recusing himself from this matter. Subsequently, on October
20, 2015, Judge Ben Hooper entered an order recusing all of
the judges of the Fourth Judicial District. Thereafter, on
November 9, 2015, Justice Sharon Lee of the Tennessee Supreme
Court entered an order designating Judge Deborah Stevens to
preside over this matter.
March 29, 2017, the trial court, with Judge Stevens sitting
by designation, entered an order dismissing Mr. Byrd's
complaint. In this order, the trial court stated in pertinent
The Plaintiff alleges that the meeting that gave rise to his
claim occurred "immediately upon his reporting to work
on June 23, 2014" and the actions occurred in the
conference room of the General Manager. The meeting occurred
in the presence of the General Manager and the Director of
Human [Resources] of the Defendant. The Plaintiff alleges
that the meeting occurred because of an alleged workplace
policy violation by Plaintiff and, as a result, the General
Manager was asking that he resign or face termination.
Every employer and employee subject to the state's
Workers' Compensation laws, shall pay and accept
compensation for injuries arising "primarily out of and
in the course and scope of employment without regard to fault
as a cause of the injury . . ." Tenn. Code Ann. §
50-6-103. An injury occurs in the course of employment, when
it takes place within the period of the employment, at a
place where the employee reasonably may be, and while the
employee is fulfilling work duties or engaged in doing
something incidental thereto. Gooden v. Coors Technical
Ceramic Co., 236 S.W.3d 351 (Tenn. 2007).
While the determination of "in the course of
employment" is generally a factual issue, the facts of
this case are such that no reasonable minds could differ. The
complaint states that Plaintiff had returned to work on that
day and the complaint states that he was on the premises of
his employer and he was in a workplace conference room for a
meeting about his alleged violation of the defendant's
workplace policy. While the Plaintiff was not engaged in the
actual performance of his job duties at the time of the
alleged incident, he was in a meeting incidental to his work
duties which would include following company policy. As such,
it is ...