Assigned on Briefs March 1, 2018
from the Chancery Court for Nashville and Davidson County No.
16-1073-I Claudia C. Bonnyman, Chancellor
Sledge ("Petitioner") appeals the June 16, 2017
order of the Chancery Court for Nashville and Davidson County
("the Trial Court") dismissing Petitioner's
October 2016 petition for declaratory judgment ("2016
Petition") based upon the prior suit pending doctrine.
We find and hold that the prior suit pending doctrine applies
as Petitioner had a prior suit pending involving the same
parties and the same subject matter in a court that had both
personal and subject matter jurisdiction. We, therefore,
affirm the Trial Court's June 16, 2017 order dismissing
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery
Court Affirmed Case Remanded
Fredrick Sledge, Only, Tennessee, pro se appellant.
William H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Andrée Blumstein, Solicitor General; and Pamela S.
Lorch, Senior Counsel for the appellee, Tennessee Department
MICHAEL SWINEY, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which W. NEAL MCBRAYER and ARNOLD B. GOLDIN, JJ., joined.
MICHAEL SWINEY, CHIEF JUDGE
a State inmate, filed the 2016 Petition against the Tennessee
Department of Correction, Commissioner, Tony Parker and
Douglas Stephens, et al. ("the State")
challenging the the State's application of sentence
credits and the calculation of Plaintiff's sentences. The
State filed a motion to dismiss alleging that Plaintiff had a
prior suit pending with regard to the same issues, which was
filed in 2014 in the Chancery Court in Davidson County
Trial Court entered its order on June 16, 2017 dismissing the
2016 Petition after finding and holding, inter alia:
In its Motion to Dismiss and supporting memorandum, the State
asserts that the Petitioner raised the same issues of
sentence credits and sentence calculation in Fredrick
Sledge v. Tennessee Department of Correction,
14-1041-III, which the State further asserts is still
currently pending. The State argues that the three
prerequisites necessary for dismissing a suit under the
doctrine of prior suit pending are present (the two suits
involve the same subject, the same parties, and the prior
suit is still pending) and therefore the later filed suit now
before this Court must be dismissed.
In a series of no less than three responses in opposition,
the Petitioner argues that the two suits are over different
subject matters. Specifically, the Petitioner states that the
prior suit alleged the Department of Correction failed to
apply all pretrial credits to which the Petitioner was due,
while his second suit now alleges the Department of
Correction failed to apply all Program Sentence Reduction
Credits (PSRC) to which he is due. The Petitioner forcefully
argues that these two issues are "separate and
distinct" because they address different types of
credits governed by different statutory provisions. The
Petitioner also argues that this Court has subject matter
jurisdiction to address the second suit because he also
raises claims of a violation of his 14th Amendment
right to due process.
The Court notes that the two enumerated claims raised in both
suits filed by the Petitioner are in fact nearly identical.
In both the 2014 and 2016 petitions for Declaratory Judgment,
the Petitioner raises two "Legal Questions Presented for
Review." His first question raises the issue whether the
Department violated the law set forth in State v
Burkhart by making him serve 100% of his aggravated
robbery sentence before becoming eligible for parole. This
same question is stated in nearly identical terms in both
suits. The Petitioner's second question raises the issue
of sentence calculation and proper application of sentence
credits. In his 2014 suit the Petitioner alleges the
Department erred in calculating the date his life sentence
began and in applying the correct amount of pretrial jail
credits. In his 2016 suit the Petitioner alleges the
Department erred ...