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R.C. ex rel. Elrod v. State

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

May 2, 2018

R.C. EX REL. ADAM ELROD
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Session April 18, 2018

          Appeal from the Tennessee Claims Commission No. 20101747 William A. Young, Commissioner

         This action involves a claim filed against the State of Tennessee with the Tennessee Claims Commission. The Commissioner ultimately dismissed the claim with prejudice for failure to advance the case to disposition. The claimant filed a motion for relief from the judgment pursuant to Rule 60.02 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure.[1] The claimant then filed a notice of appeal before the Commissioner ruled upon the motion. We dismiss the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Appeal Dismissed; Case Remanded

          Gregory E. Bennett, Seymour, Tennessee, and Mary L. Ward, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, R.C. ex rel. Adam Elrod, as next friend.

          Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter, Andrée S. Blumstein, Solicitor General, and Stephanie A. Bergmeyer, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          John W. McClarty, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which D. Michael Swiney, C.J., and Charles D. Susano, Jr., J., joined.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION[2]

          JOHN W. McCLARTY, JUDGE.

         Adam Elrod ("Claimant"), as next friend for R.C., a minor child, filed this action against the State of Tennessee ("the State") on June 1, 2010. The claim was transferred to the Tennessee Claims Commission ("the Commission") in August 2010. The Commission entered a notice of receipt of claim, which stated:

The claimants or the claimants' attorney must take the initiative in the prosecution of this claim. Please take notice of Tennessee Code Annotated section 9-8-402(b), which provides in part, "Absent prior written consent of the Commissioner, it is mandatory that any claim filed with the claims commission upon which no action is taken by the claimant to advance the case to disposition within any one (1) year period of time be dismissed with prejudice."

         The State denied liability. A scheduling order was entered in May 2011, and amended orders were entered on October 12, 2011, and October 15, 2012. An agreed protective order was also entered in October 2012.

         At some point, the Parties mutually agreed to allow Claimant to pursue a related action in circuit court in 2011 or 2012. Claimant asserts that the agreement extended until the resolution of the circuit court case, while the State claims that the agreement was for an unspecified time. Nevertheless, Claimant alleges that he indicated his intent to pursue the case on May 8, 2013. Claimant asserts that he received no response from the State, while the State argues that it advised Claimant to respond to discovery. On September 4, 2015, Claimant advised the Commissioner's office that an agreement had been reached to "leave [the] claim idle pending the outcome of the civil suit."

         The circuit court case concluded on May 10, 2016. The Parties disagree as to the extent of their conversations concerning the advancement of the claim following May 10. On May 26, 2017, the State moved to dismiss, citing Section 9-8-402(b). The Claims Commissioner dismissed the claim on July 3, finding that dismissal was warranted because written consent had not been obtained to hold the claim in abeyance.

         Claimant filed a Rule 60.02 motion for relief on July 14, and a notice of appeal on August 3. On September 11, the Claims Commission held that it was without jurisdiction to consider the Rule 60.02 motion ...


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