Tennessee Supreme Court To Hear Oral Arguments in Chattanooga As Part Of Its SCALES Program

September 18, 2018

The Tennessee Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for two cases on September 19, 2018, in front of hundreds of high school students from seven local high schools when it brings court to Chattanooga State Community College in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as part of the Court’s SCALES program.  SCALES stands for the Supreme Court Advancing Legal Education for Students.  This nationally acclaimed program, over twenty years in operation, has allowed over 36,000 students across Tennessee to learn more about the Tennessee legal system and the function of the appellate courts.  The program provides the students this first-hand experience through a partnership of attorneys, teachers, and students.  Prior to the event, volunteer attorneys and judges visit the students’ classrooms to discuss the actual cases the students will hear and help them understand more about the process.

“Hearing cases before the students of this great State is one of our most enjoyable experiences,” said Chief Justice Jeff Bivins.  “It is a unique opportunity for the Court to participate in civics education for Tennessee’s students.  I am grateful to Chattanooga State Community College, the 11th Judicial District, the local legal and business community, and the educators whose hard work has made this event possible.” 

The details of the cases that the Court and students will hear are as follows:  

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

  • Katherine D. Chaney v. Team Technologies, Inc. –In this workers’ compensation case, the plaintiff employee brought a claim for workers’ compensation benefits based on the defendant employer’s alleged failure to use an automated external defibrillator (“AED”) on the employee when she collapsed at her workplace. The question raised by the employer is whether the trial court should have dismissed the employee’s claim for benefits based on the employer’s argument that the employee’s injury is not compensable under workers’ compensation laws.  The Court, in granting the appeal, also ordered the parties to address the issue of “[w]hether the Court should revisit the holding in Vanderbilt University v. Russell, 556 S.W.2d 230, 231 (Tenn. 1977), that Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Law provides a remedy for any disability resulting from an employer’s breach of a duty to render aid to an employee who has suffered an illness or injury in the course of, but not arising out of, his or her employment.”
  • State of Tennessee v. Jonathan David Patterson -This appeal arises from the defendant’s guilty plea to various theft and burglary offenses, resulting in an effective thirty-one-year sentence.  The defendant filed a motion to modify his sentence, and the trial court ultimately determined that, in the interests of justice, his sentence should be reduced to an effective eighteen-year sentence.  The Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the reduced sentence and, instead, affirmed the thirty-one-year sentence.  The issues before the Court are whether a trial court must find a change in circumstances in order to modify its own sentence and whether the sentence in this case is excessive. 

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