Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 60.02 allows a trial court to set aside a final judgment under certain circumstances, including when the judgment is void or “for any other reason justifying relief.” Here, a decedent’s mother, in her capacity as her unmarried son’s next of kin, filed a lawsuit seeking damages for his wrongful death. The case was settled and dismissed. Nearly twenty months later, the decedent’s alleged minor child filed a Rule 60.02 motion to set aside the order of dismissal and to be substituted as the plaintiff. The motion asserted that the child was the decedent’s next of kin and the proper party to pursue the wrongful death claim, based on the decedent’s execution of an acknowledgment of paternity and a Mississippi trial court order for support. The trial court denied the motion, finding it was not timely filed. The Court of Appeals vacated the trial court’s ruling, holding that the Rule 60.02 motion was not ripe for adjudication until the trial court conclusively established the child’s paternity. We find the Court of Appeals erred by focusing on issues surrounding the child’s paternity rather than reviewing the correctness of the trial court’s ruling on the Rule 60.02 motion. We hold that the trial court properly denied relief under Rule 60.02. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the judgment of the trial court is reinstated.
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
New Tennessee Supreme Court Opinion: Rule 60 Motions Analyzed in Detail
The Tennessee Supreme Court issued its opinion yesterday in Hussey v. Woods, No. W2014-01235-SC-R11-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Dec. 18, 2017). The syllabus from the slip opinion states as follows:
Here is a link to the slip opinion:
NOTE: This opinion does a very good job of explaining the intricacies of motions seeking relief under Rule 60 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. It's a must-read opinion.