By Chief Judge Kenneth M. Switzer, Nashville
Memphis, Nashville, and Murfreesboro conduct the most settlement approvals in Tennessee.
Memphis has presented difficulties for some time now with providing enough settlement times to accommodate the large volume. The location and accessibility of the Memphis office unfortunately complicate the matter. We’ve long heard stories of difficulty finding parking and accessing the building. These have come from both employees and attorneys – plaintiff and defense alike.
So, to respond to the present situation, we’re altering the Memphis settlement process slightly and offering a new alternate settlement location.
Memphis will go from scheduled settlement approvals to first-come, first-served settlements during certain hours. On Tuesdays, we will accept 20 settlements in the morning from 8:30 until 11:30 a.m. Central Time, and nine in the afternoon from 1:00 until 2:30 p.m. On Thursdays, we will accept twenty settlements in the morning.
As is the Memphis practice presently, settlement documents for claims involving permanent total disability benefits, the death of the employee, and closure of medical benefits must be submitted to WCCourt.Memphis@tn.gov no fewer than two business days before the approval. Otherwise, all you need to present beforehand is a petition for benefit determination to secure your morning or afternoon approval. Again, no specific time: just first-come, first-served.
As for a new alternative satellite location, beginning in July, we’ll now hold settlement approvals in Lauderdale County, Ripley, Tennessee, on the third Friday of each month in the Chancery Courtroom on the courthouse square. The times will be from 9 a.m. through 11:30, on a first-come, first-served basis. No limit on the number, and the submission process will be the same as outlined above. When you file the Petition for Benefit Determination for a settlement hearing, please specify Lauderdale County on your request.
We anticipate this will be a much-used venue for settlements. You can avoid downtown Memphis traffic and parking problems. And it might actually save you time. For employees who reside in Tipton and Lauderdale Counties, it will be more convenient. For lawyers coming from Nashville, the distance is about the same without the difficulty of parking and traffic.
Should we see a strong appeal at this location, we might expand our number of days there.
For now, the Lauderdale County settlement days are July 15, August 19, September 16, October 21, November 18, and December 16.
For downtown Memphis attorneys, we hope this will relieve the crowded Memphis settlement docket and avoid delays in finding approval times.
This is all to ease pressure on attorneys, employees, and court staff at the downtown Memphis location. As we make these changes, please let us know what you think.