Bulso Attorneys Obtain Claim-Preclusion Dismissal in Lease Case.

When the covid-19 pandemic forced a Nashville restaurant to close, the landlord filed a detainer action in General Sessions Court. The General Sessions Court entered a judgment giving the landlord possession, but no monetary relief, against the restaurant.

Later, the landlord filed a complaint against the restaurant and its guarantor in Chancery Court, seeking damages from both before and after the General Sessions Judgment. Bulso attorneys moved to dismiss on the defendants’ behalf, arguing that the prior judgment barred the landlord’s new suit.

On May 19, a Davidson County Chancellor agreed and dismissed the landlord’s case in its entirety. Because the landlord could have recovered damages in the General Sessions action, the claim-preclusion effect of that judgment barred a subsequent suit for them against the restaurant. Moreover, the detainer statute itself requires that at least past damages be assessed in the detainer action and bars a subsequent suit for them, as confirmed by the Tennessee Supreme Court in Bloch v. Busch, 22 S.W.2d 242 (Tenn. 1929). Even if rent that would otherwise have accrued after the judgment were recoverable under claim preclusion and Bloch, there was no liability for it shown on the face of the complaint, because, the court held, the restaurant could not be held liable for rent after being put out of possession, relying on Johnson v. Hopkins, 432 S.W.3d 840 (Tenn. 2013).

With the claim under the lease extinguished as a matter of law, the court dismissed the claim against the guarantor as well.