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Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association

Articles Posted in Litigation

pexels-cottonbro-4098224-300x200Am I Eligible for an Annulment in Tennessee?

When a couple seeks to end their marriage in Tennessee, the termination of the marriage is generally accomplished through divorce. The divorce process usually commences with one spouse filing for divorce in a Tennessee court of competent jurisdiction. Once the divorce litigation is initiated, it will progress in either an uncontested or contested fashion. In uncontested divorce cases, the divorce is finalized upon the court approving and incorporating a Marital Dissolution Agreement (and a Permanent Parenting Plan if there are minor children born of the marriage) into a final judgment of divorce. In contested divorce cases, the parties are unable to agree on a Marital Dissolution Agreement (and Permanent Parenting Plan if applicable), and the divorce is finalized by a trial judge upon the entry of a final judgment of divorce after a trial.

There is, however, a rare alternative to divorce: annulment. Annulment is only available if grounds for annulment existed at the time a couple married. In other words, there must have been a defect in the marriage from its inception that renders it subject to annulment, and the spouse seeking the annulment has the burden to prove that the defect existed at the time of the marriage. Simply put, grounds for annulment in Tennessee do not arise after a couple marries, although they may be grounds for divorce.

pexels-curtis-adams-3935350-300x200Does Each Co-Tenant Have the Right to Use 100% of Joint Property?

In Tennessee, 95.2% of the land is privately owned.[i] In many cases, private land is concurrently owned by two or more individuals as tenants in common. Although each co-tenant in a tenancy in common holds an undivided interest in the property and retains the right to use and enjoy the property in its entirety, the co-tenants do not necessarily hold equal interests in the total value of the property. For example, one co-tenant may hold a 60% share of the property’s interest while two other co-tenants hold a 20% share; despite this, each tenant has the right to use 100% of the property.

What Is a Recurring Legal Issue That Impacts Tenancies In Common?

https://www.colelawgrouppc.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Screen-Shot-2019-01-23-at-3.49.32-PM-2.pngOftentimes in litigation, parties continuously seek the all-important piece of evidence to help win their case. This vastly important piece of evidence is sometimes known as a “smoking gun.” Some examples of a “smoking gun” may include the video of an injury that occurred on the premises of a business that clearly shows the injury was the fault of a third party, or an important email that indicates sexual harassment or racial discrimination.  However, it is not always easy to obtain this information and unfortunately sometimes parties choose to destroy evidence in hopes of hiding any evidence that may confirm their legal liability. What happens if a party destroys relevant evidence?

In 2015, the Supreme Court addressed this issue in a case know as Tatham v. Bridgestone Ams. Holding, Inc., 473 S.W.3d 734, 737, 2015 Tenn (https://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/tathamleeann.opn_.pdf)

In Tatham, the plaintiff was in a serious car accident. Plaintiff alleged that the car accident occurred due to the failure of a new tire purchased from Defendant. Plaintiff brought a products liability case against the seller and the manufacturer. At the instruction of her insurance company, the plaintiff transferred title to the vehicle (and tire) to a third-party wrecker service. In ordinary practice, the wrecker service destroyed the tire and car. After the car and tire were destroyed, Plaintiff filed suit against the defendants. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment requesting the court to dismiss Plaintiffs case because the tire was destroyed, and Defendants were prejudiced because they never got a chance to inspect the tire. The trial court refused to award the sanction because it held the plaintiff did not intentionally destroy or otherwise spoliate the tire. The Defendants appealed, arguing the trial court abused its discretion. This issue was addressed by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court upheld the Trial Court’s decision not to award sanctions and in the process developed a new four (4) factor test for the Trial Court.

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