Tennessee Supreme Court Sets Oral Arguments for February in Nashville

February 5, 2018

The Tennessee Supreme Court will hear four cases on February 7, 2018, in Nashville, TN. The details of the cases are as follows:  

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

  • State of Tennessee v. Westley A. Albright - This case involves a defendant who entered a “no contest” plea to the charge of soliciting a minor to commit aggravated statutory rape.  The defendant was granted judicial diversion conditioned upon his successful completion of a sexual offender treatment program.  After the defendant was discharged from the program, the trial court revoked the defendant’s diversion.  The defendant argues on appeal that he lacked notice at the time of the “no contest” plea that the treatment program would require him to admit guilt.  Accordingly, the defendant claims that this lack of notice was a violation of his due process rights.
  • In Re James Carl Cope - In this attorney-discipline matter, the Court will consider whether a twenty-five month suspension from the practice of law, retroactive to the attorney’s October 25, 2016 suspension, is appropriate in this case.  On December 9, 2016, Attorney Cope pleaded guilty to insider trading, a felony offense under federal law.  Attorney Cope argues that the Hearing Panel’s sanction was appropriate under the circumstances, but the Board argues that the appropriate sanction in this case is disbarment.
  • Individual Healthcare Specialists, Inc. v. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Inc. - In this breach of contract case, the defendant argues that courts should not admit extrinsic evidence, such as evidence of contract performance, when a contract is unambiguous on its face.  In contrast, the plaintiff advocates for a context-oriented approach, allowing for admission of extrinsic evidence to determine the parties’ mutual intent.  The defendant also argues, as a separate issue, that the discovery rule, which is typically applied in tort claims, should not apply to the six-year statute of limitations for contract claims in Tennessee.  In the alternative, the defendant contends that, if applicable to contract claims, the discovery rule should be limited to those claims in which the injuries are of a type that are inherently undiscoverable.  
  • David R. Smith v. The Tennessee National Guard - This case stems from a 2011 lawsuit, in which the plaintiff claimed that the Tennessee National Guard violated his rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). The plaintiff’s case was dismissed because the Tennessee General Assembly had not waived sovereign immunity for USERRA claims.  Tennessee then later passed legislation that waived sovereign immunity for USERRA claims “accruing on or after July 1, 2014.” After unsuccessfully moving to reopen his case, the plaintiff filed this lawsuit, again alleging a violation of his USERRA rights.  On appeal from the trial court’s dismissal of his case, the plaintiff argues that the language in the new law waiving sovereign immunity applies to his 2011 claim.  Thus, the plaintiff asks this Court to determine whether the July 1, 2014 waiver of sovereign immunity retroactively applies to the plaintiff’s 2011 claim.

Media members planning to attend oral arguments should review Supreme Court Rule 30 and file any required request.