Not So Small Claim

Small claims courts in Tennessee are called Courts of General Sessions. Under $25k; either party can appeal to Circuit Court and the case starts all over as if the General Sessions trial never occurred. Great for eviction and collections lawyers.

If a plaintiff appeals, their damages often magically increase, and the Circuit Court complaint is amended. No problem, pile it on!


But, what if a defendant appeals and the plaintiff then wants to bail on the litigation? Can the plaintiff voluntarily nonsuit in Circuit Court and vaporize the defendant’s appeal?

The Tennessee Court of Appeals says yes. A General Sessions appeal is to be treated as if it had originally been filed in Circuit Court. And, a plaintiff (with exceptions) can always nonsuit without permission from a defendant.

Read the opinion here.




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