ROCKY McELHANEY ET AL.
HUGHES & COLEMAN PLLC ET AL.
May 21, 2019
from the Chancery Court for Wilson County No. 2017-CV-185
Charles K. Smith, Chancellor
defendants have appealed from the trial court's rulings
granting the plaintiffs a partial summary judgment and
directing the entry of a final judgment under Tennessee Rule
of Civil Procedure 54.02. Because the order appealed was not
properly entered under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 58
and because the order is not appropriate for certification as
final under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 54.02, we
dismiss the appeal.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Appeal Dismissed
William Taylor Ramsey, Nashville, Tennessee, for the
appellants, Hughes & Coleman, Joseph Marshall Hughes, Lee
Lawrence Coleman, and Thomas R Lewis.
Lindsey Leigh Lawrence, Mount Juliet, Tennessee, for the
appellants, Clixsy, LLC, and Richard Corey Vandenberg.
R. McElhaney, II, Hendersonville, Tennessee, for the
appellees, Larry R. McElhaney, II, and Rocky McElhaney Law
G. Clement, Jr., P.J., M.S., Andy D. Bennett, and W. Neal
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
appeal involves a dispute between two law firms over an
internet marketing campaign. On August 24, 2018, the trial
court granted the plaintiffs, Larry R. McElhaney, II, and the
Rocky McElhaney Law Firm, P.C., a partial summary judgment on
the issues of liability under the Tennessee Personal Rights
Protection Act and agency. The defendants, Hughes &
Coleman, Joseph Marshall Hughes, Lee Lawrence Coleman, Thomas
R. Lewis, Clixsy, LLC, and Richard Corey Vandenberg, filed a
motion to revise or alter or amend the partial summary
judgment. On January 4, 2019, the trial court denied the
defendants' motion to revise or alter or amend. The trial
court also determined that there was no just reason for delay
and directed the entry of a final judgment under Tennessee
Rule of Civil Procedure 54.02 as to the issues decided in the
January 4, 2019 order. On January 17, 2019, the defendants
filed their notice of appeal.
reviewing the record, this court determined that the order
appealed from did not comply with Tennessee Rules of Civil
Procedure 58 or 54.02. Thus, on April 26, 2019, the court
ordered the parties to show cause within fourteen days why
the appeal should not be dismissed without prejudice to the
filing of a new appeal once the trial court has entered a
final judgment that disposes of all the claims between all
the parties. The parties did not respond to this court's
Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 58, to be effectively
entered, a judgment must contain, in addition to the
judge's signature, either 1) the signatures of all
parties or counsel, 2) the signature of one party or counsel
with a certificate of the party or counsel that a copy of the
proposed order has been served on all other parties or
counsel, or 3) a certificate of the clerk that a copy has
been served on all other parties or counsel. Tenn. R. Civ. P.
58. The trial court's handwritten January 4, 2019 order
contains neither a certificate of service nor the signatures
of counsel. It also appears that the trial judge's
signature is dated after the date the order was marked filed
for entry. Thus, the order was not properly entered under
Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 58.
failure to comply with Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 58
were the only concern, we could allow the parties to remedy
the mistake, and the appeal could proceed. However, we have
also determined that the January 4, 2019 order is not
appropriate for certification as final under Tennessee Rule
of Civil Procedure 54.02.
is generally entitled to an appeal as of right only after the
trial court has entered a final judgment that resolves all
the claims between all the parties, leaving nothing else for
the trial court to do. Tenn. R. App. P. 3(a); In re
Estate of Henderson, 121 S.W.3d 643, 645 (Tenn. 2003);
State ex rel. McAllister v. Goode, 968 S.W.2d 834,
840 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1997). The trial court may also direct
the entry of a final judgment "as to one or more but
fewer than all of the claims or parties" under Tennessee
Rule of Civil Procedure 54.02. However, the trial court's
authority to direct the entry of a final judgment is not
absolute. Crane v. Sullivan, No.
01-A-01-9207-CH-00287, 1993 WL 15154, at *1 (Tenn. Ct. App.
Jan. 27, 1993). First, Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure
54.02 requires that the order certified as final actually
adjudicate one or more of the claims or the rights ...