Motion Practice On the Rise

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By Chief Judge Ken Switzer

As time has passed, we have noted an increase in the number of motions being filed. Although this was not completely unexpected, we are surprised at the current volume of motions. This purpose of this post is to summarize the process by which the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims operates when it comes to motions.

We identify in our Practices and Procedures at Rule 4 (scroll to page 7) two separate types of motions:  dispositive and non-dispositive.

As the name implies, dispositive motions are any that might result in a final disposition of the case. Basically, we are talking about summary judgment motions and motions to dismiss. The rules require that these be set for a hearing on a date more than 30 days after the motion is filed. Presently, we do not have set “motion days” each month or week, as attorneys might be used to in the circuit and chancery courts. Our volume is not that high (yet).

So, if you intend to file such a dispositive motion, you should contact the local judge’s contact person, whether that be a staff attorney or a legal assistant, for available dates for a hearing. Having obtained a date, a notice of hearing should be typed at the bottom of the motion, saying simply, “This motion is expected to be heard . . .  .” Most attorneys have been doing this for years, so they should know the language to use. Be sure to determine whether the motion will be heard in-person or by phone. If by phone, you should include the appropriate phone number to dial at the appointed time, which is also available from the local judge’s contact person. A list of the judges and their contact person appears below.

  • Judge Addington (Kingsport)-Martin Conway (423) 578-2373
  • Judges Knott and Johnson (Knoxville)-Kim Weaver (865) 594-0312
  • Judges Wyatt and Headrick (Chattanooga)-Jodi Downs (423) 634-2171
  • Judge Durham (Cookeville)-Susan Cox (931) 520-4290
  • Judge Tipps (Murfreesboro)-Derrick Shorter (901) 495-1821
  • Judge Baker (Nashville)-Andrea Craig (615) 253-2682
  • Judge Switzer (Nashville)-Jane Salem (615) 770-1709
  • Judges Phillips and Luttrell (Jackson)-Tina Woods (731) 426-0837
  • Judge Umsted (Memphis)-Rhoberta Orsland (901) 543-7730

Non-dispositive motions are a different matter. Non-dispositive motions include everything except motions to dismiss or for summary judgment. These motions are considered based on the motion itself and any documents filed in support of that motion. Responses are required within five business days. If no response is filed, the motion will be deemed unopposed and likely granted. The judge reserves the right to set these motions for hearing. If the judge deems a hearing necessary, court staff will notify the parties and/or counsel of the date and time and whether it is in-person or telephonic.

As a final note, please feel free to reach out to any of the individuals listed above, rather than contacting the judges directly and risking violating the prohibitions against ex parte contact. (T.R.P.C. 3.5(b).) They cannot offer legal advice, but they’re a useful and courteous source of information about the Tennessee workers’ compensation courts.

We continue to strive to make your participation in our system as convenient as possible.  We hope these simple motion rules lead to convenience.

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