Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Harris v. Smith

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

December 20, 2019

HEATHER P. HOGROBROOKS HARRIS
v.
JIMMIE L. SMITH

          Session November 12, 2019

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Shelby County No. CT-001046-16 Mary L. Wagner, Judge

         This appeal arises from a lawsuit over a car accident. Heather P. Hogrobrooks Harris ("Plaintiff"), proceeding pro se, sued Jimmie L. Smith ("Defendant") in the Circuit Court for Shelby County ("the Trial Court") for diminution in the value of her vehicle, medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of use of her vehicle, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. On several occasions over the course of the case, Plaintiff failed to show up to court. When Plaintiff failed to appear for trial, the Trial Court granted a continuance with a warning that, should Plaintiff fail to appear again, her case would be dismissed. Plaintiff subsequently failed to appear, and the Trial Court dismissed her case with prejudice for lack of prosecution, as it warned it would. Plaintiff appeals to this Court, arguing among other things, that the Trial Court Judge was biased against her and that the Trial Court erred in dismissing her case. First, we find no evidence whatsoever that the Trial Court Judge was biased against Plaintiff. Second, Plaintiff's stated reasons for failing to show up for trial, that it was cold and rainy that day and her car was old and unreliable, respectfully will not suffice. We find no abuse of discretion in the Trial Court's dismissal of Plaintiff's case for lack of prosecution. We affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed; Case Remanded

          Heather P. Hogrobrooks Harris, Memphis, Tennessee, Pro Se appellant.

          Melanie M. Stewart, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jimmie L. Smith.

          D. Michael Swiney, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S., and Kenny W. Armstrong, J., joined.

          OPINION

          D. MICHAEL SWINEY, CHIEF JUDGE

         Background

         In March 2016, Plaintiff sued Defendant in the Trial Court for diminution in the value of her vehicle, medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of use of her vehicle, and negligent infliction of emotional distress, all arising from a January 17, 2016 car accident. Defendant filed an answer in opposition. A jury trial was set for April 2017. Defendant filed a motion to continue based on Plaintiff having filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in January. The Trial Court continued the trial date to November 2017. Plaintiff was discharged in bankruptcy that year.

         In March 2018, Plaintiff filed a petition seeking the Trial Court Judge's recusal. In her petition, Plaintiff alleged that the Trial Court Judge had "cut the Plaintiff off after a couple of words" and was "not only dismissive but said dismissiveness was tinged with a cultural attitude that is familiar to the plaintiff." Plaintiff also put forward as a basis for recusal the Trial Court Judge's membership in Daughters of the American Revolution, which Plaintiff describes as a racist organization. In August 2018, the Trial Court entered an order denying Plaintiff's petition for recusal. The Trial Court found that Plaintiff failed to comply with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B governing motions for recusal. The Trial Court found further, in pertinent part, as follows:

This matter was originally scheduled for a status conference by the Court on November 20, 2017. The Court set this matter in November 2017 along with numerous other matters to assign a trial date. The November 2017 status conference was continued due to Plaintiff's bankruptcy status. Plaintiff and Counsel for the Defendant appeared on February 19, 2018. At the February 19, 2018 status conference, counsel for the Defendant advised the Court that there was a bankruptcy hearing scheduled for March 27, 2018. Counsel for Defendant did not address the merits of the case. Because of the bankruptcy status, there was nothing else that could be accomplished at the status conference. Further, on February 19, 2018, the Court was in the middle of a three week medical malpractice trial. The Court had jurors waiting and it was incumbent upon the Court to return to the matter as quickly as possible. Since it was neither appropriate nor necessary to discuss the merits of the case, the Court felt appropriate to conclude the status conference. The Court was not dismissive of Plaintiff but only stopped Plaintiff from going into the merits of the case on February 19, 2018 as it was not appropriate at that time. The Court continued the status conference to May 21, 2018 to await the outcome of the bankruptcy hearing.
***
[T]he Court affirmatively finds that the Court has no actual bias, prejudice, or favor for or against any party or attorney in this matter. The Court will conduct a full hearing on the merits in accordance with the law, at the appropriate time. At that time, each party will have a full and fair opportunity to be heard and will receive a full, fair and impartial trial. That hearing on the merits cannot be conducted at a status conference or until Plaintiff's bankruptcy status is resolved in a manner that allows this Court to move forward.
***
This Court is a member of the organization Daughters' of the American Revolution. However, there is no basis in law or fact for the general insinuations in Plaintiff's Petition for Recusal. A person of ordinary prudence in the judge's position, knowing all of the facts known to the judge, would not find a ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.