2021 in Review: New Lawsuits in Davidson Circuit and General Session Courts were also Down

Last week, I wrote about how Bankruptcy Court debtor filings were at an all-time low in the Middle District of Tennessee.

A few of you asked if there was a corresponding drop in Chancery, Circuit, and General Sessions filings. Maybe that’s why people weren’t running to file bankruptcy.

Given the numbers in Bankruptcy Court, it’d make sense that state court litigation might have also slowed down, but I was a bit surprised by the answer.

Davidson County Chancery Court lawsuits have been surprisingly consistent. The final Chancery lawsuit of 2021 was filed at 11:59AM on December 30. It was case number 21-1324-I, which means that it was the 1,324th case filed last year. It’s an unpaid commercial debt lawsuit.

For comparison, here are the last few years’ numbers on new case filings: 1,299 cases filed in 2020; 1,569 in 2019; 1,413 in 2018; and 1,386 in 2017.

In short, there was no real drop in chancery court litigation, which surprised me. 2021 felt like a slow litigation year for Nashville.

Of the ten stories featured in the Nashville Post’s 2021 “Top Reads: Legal” article, six of them were just about law firm personnel moves not, you know, actual news-worthy litigation.

In general, you’d expect to see the business-minded Chancery Court have cases on this list, but, frankly, it’s a bit boring (no offense, toilet fire lawsuit).

What about General Sessions Cases? This is where it gets more interesting.

As of the end of November, there were 6,551 detainer / eviction warrants filed in 2021, along with 15,404 small claims lawsuits filed. For that same period (end of November) in 2019, there were 10,694 eviction lawsuits and 24,508 small claims lawsuits filed. Long story short, that’s about a 40% drop in filings.

Circuit Court? By the end of November, there had been 1,736 new civil lawsuits filed in 2021. At the end of November 2019, there had been 2,590 civil lawsuits filed, representing a 33% drop.

I’m not entirely sure what to make of this data. A 40% drop in evictions and credit card/debt collection cases would certainly be expected to result in a slower pace of new bankruptcy filings, but, nevertheless, this also shows that the common perception that “courts are closed” and “evictions aren’t happening” is incorrect.

Some credit has to be given to the LEGACY Housing Resource Diversionary Court run by Davidson County Judge Rachel Bell. This program can’t stop the new eviction filings, but it has helped many pending cases get resolved. As of September 20, 2021, $18,799,705.71 had been paid to landlords via this program and, most likely, kept those tenants out of the bankruptcy lawyers’ offices.

In the end, my take is that Middle Tennessee bankruptcy filing numbers are far more impacted by lawsuits filed in Davidson County General Sessions Courts than by the business-litigation dockets in Chancery Court. These numbers offer some part of an explanation.

Year In Review: Is Anybody Filing Bankruptcy in Nashville?

A few days ago, a lawyer from Oklahoma City called to refer me a new case, and, at the end of the call, he asked “Is anybody filing bankruptcy in Nashville? There’s just nothing going on here. Are you hearing anything about when it’s coming back?”

It’s a conversation I’ve had about 100 times over the last year, especially with local bankruptcy lawyers.

As of this moment (December 29), there have been 3,923 debtor bankruptcy cases filed in the Middle District of Tennessee in 2021. Compare that with 2011, when 12,546 debtor bankruptcy cases were filed. How on earth, in this economy and in month 21 of a global pandemic, has there been less than a third of the new cases we saw a decade ago?

For reference, here are the numbers for the past decade (plus):

  • 2021: 3,923
  • 2020: 5,616
  • 2019: 8,263
  • 2018: 8,577
  • 2017: 8,710
  • 2016: 9,198
  • 2015: 9,290
  • 2014: 10,089
  • 2013: 10,092
  • 2012: 11,827
  • 2011: 12,546
  • 2010: 14,063
  • 2009: 14,940

It’s clear that 2021 brought a historically low number of new bankruptcy case filings. It also shows that the Middle Tennesseans aren’t necessarily disinclined to file bankruptcy (or unable to, since so many of the past filers are not time-barred or ineligible under 11 USC § 109 or otherwise). So, why aren’t more people and businesses filing bankruptcy?

Some people refer to the influx of federal relief money and high wages, but I’m not seeing many debtors doing financially better now than they were in years past. 2021 appears to be as big a financial struggle as any of those years before it.

My guess is that the federal and local moratoriums on foreclosures and evictions are a big factor, since so many potential debtors aren’t being forced into a filing to save a imminent threat to their home. For many residential and commercial lenders, even though the moratorium may not apply to their loan, the creditor is nevertheless taking no action, for a number of reasons.

From all over the creditor realm, I have heard for months to mark my calendar for “January 1, 2022,” which was when many of the “big” lenders were planning to turn the foreclosure machine back on. Of course, that was before this latest COVID variant completely reshaped the status quo.

I’d guess that the January 1 date is being moved farther out, especially since we’re back in the throes of an ever-evolving pandemic. While it’s impossible to predict what COVID has in store for us, it’s easy to see that all of the same factors and circumstances are present to keep mortgage lenders at bay.

As awful as it sounds, then, we won’t see more bankruptcy filings until–strangely–the economy gets back to normal and people return to regular life (which, if you ignore my prediction that filings would spike in June 2020, is basically what I said in this old post).

The Future of Law Office Space? You Can Keep your 5 Year Lease, I’ll be at WeWork

I really love my office space, but I don’t talk about it much.

I have space in a brand new building, right off Music Row. The office has every modern amenity you can dream of. Free wireless internet and utilities. 10 conference rooms, all set up for hi-tech video and audio. A variety of free coffee and drinks, in a modern and luxuriously decorated common area. Three full time staff to welcome guests, handle packages, and greet me in the morning. An outdoor patio that overlooks midtown Nashville. A few times a week, the landlord throws a party with free drinks, cookies, and networking with the other tenants.

When I was recognized as an Attorney for Justice last month by the Supreme Court, guess who was the first to congratulate me? (Spoiler-Alert: My landlords).

So, why don’t I talk about it much?

My office is in the Midtown Nashville WeWork, and, for a long time, I was worried that Big Fancy Lawyers did not have offices at flexible office spaces.

Why’d I think that?

In general, The Law is a profession governed by tradition and slow to embrace innovation.

Ask most managing partners, and you’ll find a distinct preference toward the “Ways Things Have Always Been Done.” With that mindset, then, the typical law firm office features fancy marble foyers, libraries with leather bound books, and spacious corner offices where the partners can enjoy a whiskey drink at 9pm (when all the associates are starting to leave for the day).

I’m exaggerating a bit, but it remains a world where a lawyer’s self-worth is often defined by the comparative size of his or her office.

This summer, at our neighborhood swimming pool, I was talking to a Big Law Firm lawyer, who was a little bitter about a large group of lawyers leaving her law firm to start the local branch of a Giant Law Firm.

You know what her most damning insult about the new venture was? “I heard their offices are in a flex-office co-working space.”

The suggestion being, of course, that, unless you have way too much space in a way too expensive building on a way too long lease, well, what’s the point?

For decades, law firms have focused on opulent physical spaces to suggest, indirectly, success and prestige, which they hope will result in more work from clients.

Hopefully, the newer generation of lawyers (and cost-conscious clients) will see all this for what it is and realize that the best way to impress clients is high-value, efficient billing and timely, good work.

Maybe COVID-19 and the success of working-from-home will be a watershed moment for the profession, with so many lawyers abandoning skyscrapers for our guest bedrooms. We won’t stay at home forever, of course, but will it be so easy to return to the Old Way, now that we’ve seen that billable hours aren’t necessarily worth more from the 26th Floor?

I’m not holding out hope. A few months ago, the Nashville Bar Association presented a “Future of Commercial Real Estate” seminar, which was held at a Big Law Firm’s brand new office spaces, in the most expensive building in town.

Maybe old habits are hard to break.

For me, when I left my Old Big Law Firm, I talked to my commercial broker clients about finding office space, and the conversations were always about 5 or 7 year leases, for a new venture that I had no idea where it would take me (and, boy-oh-boy, has it ever taken me a bunch of places).

I needed something flexible and that would facilitate my work, but that wouldn’t force me to work more just to pay my monthly rent.

My office set-up has been perfect for me. It’s a gorgeous space, with every amenity I need, and I have the ability to grow or to shut it all down, without navigating the intricacies of a 7 year lease.

Also, I’m neighbors with Amazon, ML Rose, Bethel College, and dozens of tech companies whose names I can’t pronounce.

I can’t say enough positive things about my space. I’d say more, but, as I’ve been typing this, I got Katie’s email about the Christmas gift wrapping/hot cocoa party…

Zillow’s Failure Hasn’t Slowed the Torrid Pace of All-Cash / No-Fuss Property Sales in Nashville

In the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic in June 2020, I bought a truck. And not just any truck, but a brand new 4×4 that was way bigger than the late model Nissan Leaf that I traded in.

When we returned to a semblance of normal life in the spring of 2021 (i.e. when Courts began to require in-person appearances), I realized how much I hated driving a truck on downtown streets.

Well, the actual realization occurred at the top level of the Williamson County Judicial Center parking lot, when there were no parking spots and I had to turn my giant truck around in a tight space and find street parking. I’ll yada yada the parts about me backing into a tree while parallel parking a few minutes later and, by the end of the day, getting a Carvana purchase offer.

But, long story short, Carvana gave me a no-questions/no-fuss offer on my (fixed) truck, in a process that was weirdly easy. I was used to having to run a newspaper ad and have strangers come to my house for test drives (or, worse, dealing with a used car salesman).

That’s their business model–disrupt the traditional market by making an onerous process so easy.

Which is exactly what Zillow was doing in real estate, and which ended in failure.

But don’t think that Zillow’s failure is an indictment of the business model. It’s alive and well in the Nashville market.

When I look at the recent property transactions in the Nashville Ledger, all I see are weird LLCs, buying lots and lots of properties. Look at the picture below. Sfr Xii Nashville Owner 1 LP. Opendoor Property Trust I. Mile High Borrower 1 Value LLC.

My personal favorite is the buyer named “Rich af LLC,” the new owner of some prime real estate on 1st Avenue.

The business model is straight-forward. These buyers approach owners with a quick, no-fuss, cash offer, and, then, they hope to flip the properties (after renovations or maybe not), safe in the assumption that the Nashville real estate market is going to justify their confidence.

Zillow’s failure drew a lot of national attention, but, if the past 60 days of transactions are any indication, the business model is alive and well in Middle Tennessee. In fact, Zillow’s crash and burn appears to be good for Nashville property investors–not only is there one less competitor, but there’s an assumption (among property owners) that “buying low/selling high” isn’t a viable business, and they’re lucky to get quick-cash offers on their properties.

When Carvana offered me nearly 95% of retail value for my 10 month old truck, I was surprised (and couldn’t get it there fast enough). I kept waiting to find out what the catch was–would there be some secondary negotiation or some other trick? (There wasn’t.)

I suspect Carvana was confident that they’d easily find a buyer in a great selling market, and I’m betting that’s what these Nashville property investors are doing too.

Nashville Bar Association’s Second Trial Court Opinion Is Live: Full Case Copies Found Here

For the past 6 months, I’ve served as an editor for the Nashville Bar Association’s Notable Trial Court Opinion newsletter.

The purpose of this publication is to find interesting, novel, and useful opinions from the District Courts in the Middle District of Tennessee and from the trial courts in Davidson County, Tennessee. Specifically, my job is to review and write about the opinions from the Davidson County Circuit Court and Chancery Court Judges.

Sure, we all know that the Tennessee Supreme Court and the Tennessee Court of Appeals are the standard bearers in defining “what the law is” in Tennessee.

But, having said that, the trial courts are the first (and sometimes only) place that weird and first-impression issues in Tennessee law are examined, and seeing specific instances of how the trial courts are interpreting statutes and case precedent is critical for Tennessee litigators.

Most court rulings never get appealed, and, without a project like this, Middle Tennessee lawyers miss out on most of the good decisions that are relevant to their practices. The goal of this project is to find those opinions and share them with members of the bar.

We’re on the second edition, and a number of you have asked to see actual copies of a few of the underlying opinions.

The first case is Nissan North America, Inc. v. West Covina Nissan, LLC, et. al., Davidson County Chancery Court Case No. 16-883-BC. Memorandum and Order Excusing [Witness] from In-Person Attendance at Trial entered July 1, 2021. This case is notable because it provides a useful blueprint of the factors that a Tennessee court will consider when faced with a request to allow remote testimony under Tenn. R. Civ. P. Rule 43.01.

Another case that was featured is Robert L. Baker, et. al. v. Brett Eldredge, et. al., Davidson County Chancery Court Case No. 20-445-III. Memorandum and Final Order Granting Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment; Denying Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment; and Dismissing Case with Prejudice entered on December 23, 2020. A number of you have asked for a copy of this case, which is a cautionary tale about how one party can modify an at-will contract by unilateral performance, where the other party fails to object to the non-conforming performance.

As you can see from the September 2021 edition, these are just a small sample of the cases we discuss, but these are the two cases that I’ve had a number of requests to post.

And, as always, if you see a trial court decision that’s really good, please send it my way.

Pending Judicial Foreclosure: Williamson County residential property

This isn’t going to turn into a real estate listing blog, but a number of you have asked me to keep you posted when I set interesting properties for sale.

Well, I’ve got an interesting one coming up for a Williamson County residential property in Concord Hunt (a very nice neighborhood) that will be sold on November 4, 2021.

The property is 9185 Monarch Court, Brentwood, Tennessee 37027, which Zillow says is worth $1,323,100. Who knows if that is accurate, but I can’t wait for an actual property owner to use the “Sell your home to Zillow” feature and we see if Zillow puts their money where their site is.

Per the Zillow information, the house was built in 2005, is in a phenomenal school district, and, based on my site visit, is vacant.

My bank client is the second priority lien holder. This is a “judicial foreclosure” because the third-priority lien holder is the United States government. As a result, any sale will be subject to the approval and confirmation of the Williamson County Chancery Court. Per my Sale Order, I’ll handle getting the sale approved.

The sale will occur on Thursday, November 4, 2021 at 11:00 o’clock a.m., at the property address.

Please let me know if you would like additional information on this property. I am the attorney for the creditor, and, as a result, I will be limited in what information and guidance that I can provide, but I am available to answer questions about the judicial foreclosure sale and the court approval process. Nothing in this post, of course, is designed to give you legal or factual advice about these sales.

As with all distressed real estate sales, buyer beware, and hire a lawyer.

Foo Fighters’ Nashville Lawsuit provides important lesson on allocating risks in contracts

When COVID first hit, lawyers talked about how future contracts would evolve to anticipate the special challenges presented by a global pandemic.

Now, 19 months in, a new Davidson County Chancery lawsuit filed on behalf of the Foo Fighters shows that–even with all the planning in the world–COVID is still disrupting the best laid plans.

The plaintiff (the touring company that books gigs for the band) alleges that defendant hired the Foo Fighters to perform at an August 13, 2021 corporate event for payroll processing company ADP. The parties entered entered into a April 5, 2021 written agreement. Per the contract, the band would receive $3,000,000 for the performance, with half paid when the contract was signed, and the other half paid at (or before) the event.

But this contract was updated to take into account all the lessons learned during a global pandemic.

Per Paragraph 10 of the Complaint, if the defendant defaults or cancels the performance for any reason, the band would receive the full performance payment (regardless of whether the band actually plays the show).

Based on the allegations of the Complaint, it’s clear that concerns about COVID played a large role in the negotiations. In fact, the parties included a section called “COVID CANCELLATION,” which–as you’d guess–allocated the risk of a forced cancellation due to the pandemic.

And, boy-oh-boy, was that risk apportioned squarely onto the plaintiff:

In short, if the contracted for event were to be deemed unsafe and impossible due to the resurgence of COVID, this provision says that it does not matter. The band, in their “sole reasonable discretion,” can terminate the obligation and refuse to perform…and still get paid.

Was COVID a “force majuere” event? The band says that they expressly removed the reference to COVID in that paragraph, and further allege this:

There’s a bit more to the story, but, in short, COVID didn’t go away, and this August 2021 event at Mile High Stadium in Denver became less and less of a good idea for the ADP corporate event.

They discussed limited capacity, the band offered to do an exclusive live-stream concert, but, on August 4, 2021 (9 days before the event), the defendant decided to cancel the event. The lawsuit points out that “there was no local, state, or other governmental restriction that required the cancellation of the Event” and, helpfully, points out a number of other large concerts and events that happened that weekend in or near Denver.

The Foo Fighters have sued for the $1,500,000 owed under the Agreement. (And I tend to agree with their analysis of the contract.)

It’s an interesting case. On the most superficial level, it shows that, no matter how hard you try, it’s hard to contract around the unexpected.

In April 2021, my own family was so exuberant about the vaccines and a COVID-free summer (and fall) that we surprised our kids with shockingly expensive Jonas Brothers tickets to celebrate the end of the pandemic. In April, my wife and I believed we had weathered the storm and that a sold out concert in September 2021 was a totally safe and reasonable reward for our kids. We went, but we were terrified taking our vaccinated kids to the show.

I have to wonder if the defendants, here, suffered from a similar bit of vaccine optimism.

Nevertheless, the Foo Fighters’ lawyers did not share that optimism; or, if they did, they included sufficient terms in the contract to assign the burden of any risk squarely on the other party.

From what I’ve seen of it, it’s a good contract. Who knew we’d be learning some lessons about contract law from the Foo Fighters?

Can the failure to respond to Admissions be fixed? New Court of Appeals opinion says “Maybe.”

As a young lawyer, one of the worst tasks I was ever given was to cover a hearing on a motion to deem admissions admitted, where the other lawyer appeared to have simply overlooked the deadline to respond.

Requests for admission are, basically, what they sound like. One party in a lawsuit sends another party a written demand that they admit or deny a specific thing–generally a fact or that a document is authentic. Under Rule 36.01 of the Tennessee Rules of Procedure, if the other party doesn’t respond in 30 days, the fact is conclusively admitted for purposes of the lawsuit.

And, yes, a lawyer receiving these requests and ruin a client’s case if she is not good at calendaring or paperwork.

And many lawyers are not.

So, 20 years ago, as a brand new associate, I was sent down to Williamson County Chancery Court to argue a motion like this where the other lawyer–apparently–simply forgot to respond and, as a result, his client’s fate was at the mercy of a paperwork oversight.

And he was not happy to be arguing his side of the case.

For my side, it wasn’t a particularly hard argument. You tell the Judge the date of the Requests, add 30 days, tell the Judge that there was no response by that date, and cite Rule 36.01.

What made it hard is that the lawyer on the other side was a well-known, respected lawyer, and, generally, as a matter of courtesy, lawyers don’t play “gotcha” with each other on paperwork issues like this. And, even to me–a brand-new lawyer–it was a tough request.

Ultimately, Judge Easter stared at Rule 36.01 for a long time and decided to not hold the other lawyer to 30 days. He gave him more time. I was–frankly–happy to lose that day.

I was reminded of all that when I read the Court of Appeals opinion from yesterday, in Masterfit Medical Supply v. Samuel Bada, No. W2020-01709-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. Apps., Sept. 23, 2021). In that case, a party lost at the trial court level based on his failure to respond to admissions on unpaid invoices.

A critical component of the Court’s opinion, however, was that the complaining party never filed a motion under Rule 36.02 to have the admission withdrawn or amended.

Under Tenn. R. Civ. P. 36.02, “[a]ny matter admitted under this rule is conclusively established unless the court on motion permits withdrawal or amendment of the admission. Subject to the provisions of Rule 16 governing amendment of a pre-trial order, the court may permit withdrawal or amendment when the presentation of the merits of the action will be subserved thereby and the party who obtained the admission fails to satisfy the court that withdrawal or amendment will prejudice that party in maintaining the action or defense on the merits.”

Courts favor deciding cases on the merits and that’s why Rule 36.02 makes sense. As a matter of equity, all kinds of other sworn statements can be clarified, amended, and modified, so why should un-answered admissions be unassailable, where no particular prejudice results?

That day in Williamson County, the other lawyer didn’t argue this rule, but, based on Judge Easter’s clear desire to consider the merits (and not a technicality), it’s clear that the Judge would have welcomed such a request.

Can a party ask for Rule 60 relief on its own agreed judgment?

Yesterday, the Tennessee Court of Appeals issued an opinion on whether a party can ask that their own “agreed” judgment be set aside under Rule 60 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. It’s an interesting factual scenario, and the opinion provides a good recap of the law regarding Rule 60.02 relief.

The case is City of Memphis, Tenn. v. Beale Street Development Corporation, No. W2020-00523-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. Apps., Sept. 21, 2021). In short, the defendant’s lawyer executed an agreed judgment that fully resolved the dispute, but, then, 364 days later, the defendant filed a Motion for Relief under Rule 60.02, arguing that its board never, in fact, properly approved the settlement agreement. As such, the lawyer should never have signed the judgment and the trial court should not have entered it.

In considering a party’s motion to set aside an agreed judgment that the attorney expressly agreed to, the Court spent some time with Rule 60.02, including on the following points.

A Rule 60.02 motion is reviewed under an “abuse of discretion standard.” Discover Bank v. Morgan, 363 S.W.3d 479, 487 (Tenn. 2012). This means that the appellate court will consider whether “the trial court applied incorrect legal standards, reached an illogical conclusion, based its decision on a clearly erroneous assessment of the evidence, or employed reasoning that cause[d] an injustice to the complaining party.” Id. The “trial court’s ruling ‘will be upheld as long as reasonable minds can disagree as to [the] propriety of the decision made.” Id.

That’s a pretty high standard, so much so that Rule 60.02 relief is called “an exceptional remedy.”

One of the bases to set aside a judgment under Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60.02 is for “fraud . . . , misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party.” This generally means that the other party or its counsel committed some fraud–like lying about the court date or forging a signature. But, the Court of Appeals says, this conduct must be committed by an adverse party (just like Rule 60 says). Action by a party’s own attorney will not support relief under Rule 60.02.

Finally, the Court noted that the motion was not timely. Of course, the rule expressly one year as an outer limit, but, here, the facts dictate that the defendants should have brought this motion sooner (maybe in response to the article on the front page of the Memphis newspaper the day after the settlement was announced).

“Rule 60.02 does not ‘permit a litigant to slumber on [its] claims and then belatedly attempt to relitigate issues long since laid to rest.’” Furlough v. Spherion Atl. Workforce, LLC, 397 S.W.3d 114, 127 (Tenn. 2013).

Motions brought under this rule are a hassle for the judgment creditor for obvious reasons: Who wants their hard work to be challenged years later? But, Tennessee Courts don’t look favorably on these motions and rarely grant them and, when they do, Rule 60.02 is strictly enforced on its terms.

Keep this case handy the next time you receive one of these motions.

Who knew Pineapple Express had such technically accurate legal scenes?

Service of process can drive me and my clients crazy. Before filing the lawsuit, I am in total control of all aspects of the timing of the case, from the initial review to filing the Complaint.

But, once I file the complaint and send it to be served on the defendant, we are sometimes at the mercy of luck and a little bit of good timing.

Nobody wants to be served with a lawsuit (for obvious reasons), and, until you get them served, they have no responsibility to answer and the case doesn’t move forward.

In many cases, a plaintiff has to employ creative tactics to get the process into the hands of the defendant.

You’ve probably seen this in a movie, where the process server hides in the bushes, hands somebody a piece of paper, and yells “You’ve been served!” as he runs away.

So, yes, I thought about the opening sequence from Pineapple Express, when I read a recent opinion by Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Lyle about an evading defendant and an irritated process server, in Joyce B. Martin v. Devon Lawrence, et. al., Davidson County Chancery Court Case No. 20-1091-III.

In that case, the process server was knocking on the defendant’s door, had confirmed that the defendant was inside the house, and, when the defendant refused to come to the door, attempted service pursuant to Rule 4.04(1) by “plac[ing] the summons and complaint into a clear plastic sleeve and tap[ing] it to the glass front door before leaving the [Defendant’s house].”

(The opinion was silent on whether the process server yelled “You’ve been served!” as he walked away, but I would bet money that he did.)

On these facts, however, Chancellor Lyle found the service ineffective. Rule 4.04(1) provides that if a defendant “evades or attempts to evade service,” then the process server may perfect service of process “by leaving copies thereof at the individual’s dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein, whose name shall appear on the proof of service, or by delivering the copies to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service on behalf of the individual served.”

Citing this Rule’s plain language—which expressly imposes a requirement that the summons be left “with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein”—the Judge found that merely taping the summons to the outside of a home does not meet the statutory requirements, even under these circumstances.

(Note: You can read more analysis of this opinion (and see a full copy) by visiting the Nashville Bar Association’s Trial Court Opinion page, which will be updated soon with more notable decisions.)

In a surprise twist, then, Seth Rogen’s stoner private process server turns out to be a highly effective process server whose work would be approved even by Chancellor Lyle (though she may question other aspects about his…demeanor and tactics).

In each instance in the movie clip he, in fact, personally serves each person. We lawyers can be awful to watch movies with, since we love to nit-pick the accuracy of the Hollywood depictions of the job, but this sequence complies with the law (except the part when he’s driving and using illegal substances).

But, other than that–congratulations to Seth Rogen–this clip could be shown in a first-year Civil Procedure class. Who knew?