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Legal Information: Tennessee

Statutes: Tennessee

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Updated: 
November 25, 2019

29-41-101. Definitions

As used in this chapter:

(1) “Abusive civil action” means a civil action filed by a plaintiff against a defendant with whom the plaintiff shares a civil action party relationship primarily to harass or maliciously injure the defendant and at least one (1) of the following factors are applicable:

(A) Claims, allegations, and other legal contentions made in the civil action are not warranted by existing law or by a reasonable argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law, or the establishment of new law;

(B) Allegations and other factual contentions made in the civil action are without the existence of evidentiary support; or

(C) Issue or issues that are the basis of the civil action have previously been filed in one (1) or more other courts or jurisdictions by the same, and the actions have been litigated and disposed of unfavorably to the plaintiff;

(2) “Abusive civil action plaintiff” means a person who files a civil action that a court of record has determined to be an abusive civil action and against whom prefiling restrictions have been imposed pursuant to this chapter;

(3) “Civil action” means a civil action, as defined in Rule 2 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure;

(4) “Civil action defendant” means a person or persons against whom a civil action has been filed that a court of record has determined to be an abusive civil action and imposed prefiling restrictions against the abusive civil action plaintiff pursuant to this chapter;

(5) “Civil action party relationship” means the plaintiff commencing a civil action and the civil action defendant fall within one (1) of the following categories:

(A) Adults who are current or former spouses;

(B) Adults who live together or who have lived together;

(C) Adults who are dating or who have dated or who have or had a sexual relationship. As used in this subdivision (5)(C), “dating” and “dated” do not include fraternization between two (2) individuals in a business or social context;

(D) Adults related by blood or adoption;

(E) Adults who are related or were formerly related by marriage; or

(F) Adult children of a person in a relationship that is described in subdivisions (5)(A)-(E); and

(6) “Harass or maliciously injure” means the civil action determined to be an abusive civil action was filed with the intent or was primarily designed to:

(A) Exhaust, deplete, impair, or adversely impact the civil action defendant’s financial resources unless:

(i) Punitive damages are requested and appropriate; or

(ii) A change in the circumstances of the parties provides a good faith basis to seek a change to a financial award, support, or distribution of resources;

(B) Prevent or interfere with the ability of the civil action defendant to raise a child or children for whom the civil action defendant has legal custody in the manner the civil action defendant deems appropriate unless the civil action plaintiff has a lawful right to interfere and a good faith basis for doing so;

(C) Force, coerce, or attempt to force or coerce the civil action defendant to agree to or make adverse concessions concerning financial, custodial, support, or other issues when the issues in question have been previously litigated and decided in favor of the civil action defendant;

(D) Force, coerce, or attempt to force or coerce the civil action defendant to alter, engage in, or refrain from engaging in conduct when the conduct is lawful and is conduct in which the civil action defendant has the right to engage;

(E) Impair, or attempt to impair the health or well-being of the civil action defendant or a dependent of the civil action defendant;

(F) Prevent, interfere, or adversely impact the ability of the civil action defendant to pursue or maintain a livelihood or lifestyle at the same or better standard as the civil action defendant enjoyed prior to the filing of the action primarily for the purpose of harassing or maliciously injuring the civil action defendant; or

(G) Impair, diminish, or tarnish the civil action defendant’s reputation in the community or alienate the civil action defendant’s friends, colleagues, attorneys, or professional associates by subjecting parties without knowledge of or not reasonably relevant to the civil action to unreasonably or unnecessarily complex, lengthy, or intrusive interrogatories or depositions.