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General Sessions Appeal Bonds

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CaseWilma Griffin v. Campbell Clinic, P.A.

Issue:  Does a cash bond pursuant to T.C.A. § 8-21-401 satisfy the obligation to “give bond with good security” under § 27-5-103?

Facts:  The Circuit Court dismissed this appeal from General Sessions Court based on the Appellant’s failure to file a surety bond. Appellant paid costs in the General Sessions Court pursuant to § 8-21-401(b)(1)(C)(i), but did not submit a surety bond under § 27-5-103 The circuit court held that failure to post the surety bond under § 27-5-103 resulted in a lack of subject matter jurisdiction in the circuit court.

Appellate Decision:  The intermediate court reversed the dismissal, holding that the bond statutes were ambiguous, and that payment of the § 8-21-401 bond satisfied the requirement of § 27-5-103 to “give bond with good security” pursuant to the court’s decision in Bernatsky. Judge Highers dissented, writing that prior Court of Appeals decisions had found the statutes unambiguous and required a separate surety bond. He also urged supreme court review to reconcile the conflicting decisions.

Review Granted:  December 23, 2013

Prediction:  Ben thinks the supreme court will reverse and hold a separate bond is required. Otherwise, the surety bond requirement of § 27-5-103 would be redundant and superfluous.