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Simpkins v. Ward

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

September 17, 2019

RANDY LYNN SIMPKINS
v.
JOE WARD ET AL.

          Session August 14, 2019

          Appeal from the Chancery Court for Hickman County No. 2010-CV-4248 Deanna B. Johnson, Judge

         This appeal involves a boundary dispute. In resolving the dispute, the trial court made specific findings about the location of a non-party's border, indicating that it was coterminous with the disputed northern border of Mr. Simpkins, who is a party to this case. Finding this non-party to be a necessary party based on the record, we vacate the trial court's order and remand for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery Court Vacated and Remanded

          Andrew Mills and Hilary H. Duke, Dickson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Randy Lynn Simpkins.

          T. Larry Edmondson and Thomas F. Bloom, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Joe Ward and Mike Ward,

          Tommy E. Doyle, Linden, Tennessee, for the appellees, John Marrs, Keith Marrs, Chad Marrs, and d/b/a Marrs Logging.

          Arnold B. Goldin, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., and Carma Dennis McGee, J., joined.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION [1]

          ARNOLD B. GOLDIN, JUDGE

         The present case concerns a dispute over real property. Litigation was commenced by Randy Simpkins in October 2010 when he filed suit against Joe Ward, Mike Ward, John Marrs, Keith Marrs, and Chad Marrs. According to the filed petition, the Wards had entered into a contract with the Marrses to harvest timber on Mr. Simpkins' property. Mr. Simpkins alleged that approximately twelve acres of timber had ultimately been harvested from his property, and he sought to hold the respondents jointly and severally liable. Mr. Simpkins averred that the Wards were aware that the property from which the timber was harvested belonged to him, and he claimed that the Marrses knew, or should have known upon a reasonable investigation, that the Wards had no ownership interest in the harvested timber.

         The property dispute later went to trial, and thereafter, the trial court made a number of findings in its "Memorandum and Order," ultimately holding in favor of the Wards based on adverse possession. When the matter came before us at the oral argument of this appeal, we expressed concern that an adjoining landowner referenced in the record, Mr. Heatherly, was not joined as a necessary party in the trial court. Having further reflected on the issue, we are of the opinion that Mr. Heatherly's non-joinder presents an impediment to our oversight of this case at this time.

         Our concern pertaining to Mr. Heatherly is grounded in the dictates of Rule 19 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. Under that Rule:

A person who is subject to service of process shall be joined as a party if (1) in the person's absence complete relief cannot be accorded among those already parties, or (2) the person claims an interest relating to the subject of the action and is so situated that the disposition of the action in the person's absence may (i) as a practical matter impair or impede the person's ability to protect that interest, or (ii) leave any of the persons already parties subject to a substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations by reasons of the claimed interest. If the person has not been so joined, the court shall order that the person be ...

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