News & Events

Litigating with the Lawyerless (Redux) and in the Right (Local) Court

The Tennessee Court of Appeals, in Little Hurricane Properties, LLC v. Ralph Cafaro, Jr., et al., Case No. E2017-01781-COA-R3-CV, outlined, again on August 22, 2018, the risks assumed by a DIY litigant.  The court found the DIY brief “consisting of fragmentary phrases, lengthy digressions, and statements devoid of any basic context, let alone appropriate citations,” totally valueless in the appellate review process – all issues on appeal were thus deemed waived.  We previously addressed this issue in this blog article.

But, the appellate court partially reversed the trial court because it lacked subject matter jurisdiction as to a portion of the case, which involved an effort to quiet title to real property which straddled two (2) counties.  Determining appropriate venue under Tennessee law requires an analysis of whether the action is local or transitory, it found:

Unlike a transitory action, a local action may only be brought in the county where the subject matter of the dispute is located. State ex rel. Logan v. Graper, 155 Tenn. 565, 4 S.W.2d, 955, 956 (Tenn. 1927).  Our Supreme Court has stated that “[t]he Courts of our State have no jurisdiction of local actions brought in the wrong county and consent cannot give jurisdiction.” Curtis v. Garrison, 364 S.W.2d at 936.  Thus, when a party files a complaint for an action that is local in nature, the venue for that action becomes jurisdictional. Pack v. Ross, 288 S.W.3d at 873; Hawkins v. Tennessee Department of Corrections, 127 S.W.3d 749, 753-754 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2002).

The appellate court vacated the order as to the property not located in the county where the trial court sat and ordered a remand of that portion of the action to be transferred to the appropriate trial court which had appropriate, local jurisdiction over the subject real property.