A Rule 60.02 motion to set aside the final judgment in a Tennessee wrongful death action was deemed untimely when filed almost twenty months after the order of dismissal.
In Hussey v. Woods, No. W2014-01235-SC-R11-CV (Tenn. Dec. 18, 2017), decedent and Ms. Harris had a long-term relationship but were never married, but Ms. Harris had a child during this time period in 2005. When sued for support by the Mississippi Department of Human Services, decedent “signed an agreement admitting that he was the natural father of the child[.]” In 2008, decedent “died after being detained and handcuffed by the manager of a Family Dollar store in Memphis.” Decedent’s mother, with whom he lived, contacted an attorney about filing a wrongful death suit. This first attorney met with both mother and Ms. Harris in December 2008, and Ms. Harris “signed an agreement retaining [the attorney] to represent Ms. Harris and [decedent’s] minor child in a wrongful death suit against the Family Dollar store.”
In July 2009, the first attorney sent a family representative a letter declining representation. In November 2009, decedent’s mother hired another firm and filed a wrongful death suit as next of kin. This suit settled in March 2010, and a consent order of dismissal with prejudice was entered. Ms. Harris was not told about this suit, but in December 2011 she filed a motion to set aside the judgment under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 60.02 on behalf of the child, after having consulted with a legal aid attorney. In response to the motion, decedent’s mother argued that there were questions regarding the child’s paternity and that attempts to contact Ms. Harris had been unsuccessful.