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Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Tennessee Civil Procedure: A Plaintiff May Amend Complaint Any Time Before a Responsive Pleading Is Filed or the Dismissal of Initial Complaint Becomes Final

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has released its opinion in Justice v. Nordquist, No. E2020-01152-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. June 29, 2021).  Here is the syllabus from the slip opinion:

Loring Justice . . . [,] individually and as next friend of N.N./N.J.],] . . . sued Vey Michael Nordquist, Ph.D.  . . . in the Circuit Court for Knox County . . . over Defendant’s actions in connection with paternity litigation to which Plaintiff was a party. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, but never filed a responsive pleading to the original complaint. The Trial Court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss. Before time for appeal expired, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint as he was entitled to do under Tenn. R. Civ. P. 15.01 given that Defendant never filed a responsive pleading to the original complaint. However, the Trial Court never ruled on Plaintiff’s amended complaint. The order appealed from is not a final judgment, meaning we lack subject matter jurisdiction to hear this appeal. Therefore, we dismiss this appeal.

Here is a link to the slip opinion:

NOTE: This opinion is a good reminder that a motion to dismiss is not a responsive pleading that would prohibit free amendment under Rule 15 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure.  

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