Tennessee Supreme Court Rules on Elvis Presley Enterprises v. Memphis Basketball Case

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021 that a lawsuit filed by Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. against the City of Memphis, Shelby County, and Memphis Basketball is not barred.

The lawsuit involves the construction of a 6,200-seat theater near Graceland and the Court decided the case is not barred by the legal concept of “res judicata.”

The case was remanded to the Court of Appeals for further review.

In 2014, Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE) undertook a project to redevelop Graceland, including the Guesthouse at Graceland hotel, convention and concert facilities, construction of a theater, and upgrades to the museum facilities and studio.

Guesthouse at Graceland

EPE applied to the Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE) for Memphis and Shelby County, a nonprofit that recommends to the Shelby County Commission and Memphis City Council projects for a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) program.

The TIF was approved and in 2017, EPE presented a supplemental plan that included a 6,200-seat arena.

Memphis Basketball reached the city while the application was pending and asserted that granting a TIF for the proposed arena would violate the non-participation provision of the arena agreement between the city and them, signed in 2001 for the Memphis Grizzlies’ use of FedEx Forum.

Elvis’ Memphis Museum

EDGE did not move forward with the TIF approval process because of Memphis Basketball’s objection.

In November 2017, EPE filed a complaint against the city, county, and Memphis Basketball for declaratory judgment, intentional interference of business relations, and other injunctive and equitable relief.

The defendants filed motions to dismiss, and the chancery court found EPE lacked standing to bring the case because it failed to exhaust all administrative remedies before filing suit.

In the following months, both EDGE and the County Commission approved the TIF, contingent on a court order or an agreement by the parties to the original arena agreement that the EPE project did not violate the contract.

EPE brought a second lawsuit, seeking a declaratory judgment that the TIF does not violate the arena agreement. The chancery court dismissed that case for a lack of standing.

On appeal, in a split opinion, the Court of Appeals affirmed the chancery court’s decision, concluding the second complaint was barred by the legal concept of res judicata and not addressing the standing question. The Supreme Court granted appeal.

The concept of res judicata bars a second lawsuit between the same parties on the same claim when all of the issues were, or could have been, litigated in the former suit. 

In this case, the Supreme Court determined that the earlier dismissal for failure to exhaust administrative remedies was not on the merits of the case and, therefore, the second suit was not barred by res judicata. The Supreme Court remanded the case to the Court of Appeals for consideration of the standing issue.

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Raised in San Antonio, Jack Dennis’ early experiences were as a newspaper reporter and private investigator. With a Texas State University bachelor’s degree, Jack studied journalism, education and psychology. He was the founding vice-president of Sigma Delta Chi, the Association of Professional Journalists at the University. Jack has received numerous awards, including Investigative Reporter of the Year from Rocky Mountain Press Association, David Ashworth Community Award, and Leadership in Management.
Some of the people and groups Jack has interviewed include:
Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, George Strait, Roy Orbison, Justin Timberlake, Steven Tyler, Freddie Mercury, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins, Jackson Browne, Steve Wariner, Tanya Tucker, Scotty Moore, Fats Domino, Patty Page, Tommy Roe, Emmy Lou Harris, Johnny Rivers, Charly McClain, Kinky Friedman, John McFee, Guy Allison & Patrick Simmons (Doobie Brothers) , Randy Bachman (BTO), Jim Messina, Todd Rundgren, Alvin Lee, Gary Puckett, The Ventures, Freddy Cannon, Augie Meyer, Christopher Cross, Whiskey Myers, Sha Na Na (John “Bowzer” Baumann), Flash Cadillac, Jerry Scheff, John Wilkinson, Darrell McCall, and more.
Politicians & News
George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lady Bird Johnson, Greg Abbott, Rudolph Giuliani, Larry King, Jack Anderson, Tom Bradley, Connie Mack, and more.
Clint Eastwood, Mike Myers, Taylor Lautner, Cameron Diaz, Jerry Lewis, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Selena Gomez, Tippi Hedren, James Earl Jones, James Woods, Jim Nabors, Martha Raye, Rosalind Russell, June Lockhart, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Howie Mandel, Meg Ryan, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, James Drury, Melanie Griffith, Nathan Lane, Alan Thicke, Lou Diamond Phillips, Clint Howard, Tony Sirico, Cesar Romero, Michael Berryman, Tracy Scoggins, William Windom, Warren Stevens and more.
Space Explorers
Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Wally Schirra, Dave Scott, Gene Cernan, Walt Cunningham, Scott Carpenter, Gene Kranz (NASA Flight Director), Ed Mitchell, Richard Gordon, Bruce McCandless, Vanentina Treshkova (first woman in space, Russia), Alex Leonov (first man to walk in space, Russian), Al Worden, Dee O’Hara (nurse to astronauts) and more.
Sports: Joe Torre, Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes, Billie Jean King, Manuela Maleeva, Drew Pearson, Bob Lilly, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, George Gervin, Tony Parker, Shannon Miller, Cathy Rigby, Bruce Bowen, Wade Boggs, Fernando Valenzuela, Bernie Kosar, Dale Murphy, Jim Abbott, Dick Bartell, Mike Schmidt, Dan Pastorini and more.
May Pang, Bob Eubanks, Vernon Presley, Vester Presley, Charlie Hodge, Joe Esposito, Rick Stanley (Elvis’ step-brother, Harold Lloyd (Elvis’ first cousin), Doyle Brunson, Kara Peller, Hank Meijer, Norman Brinkler, Stanley Marcus, Jerry King, Mac King, Nathan Burton, Zach Anner, Louie Anderson, Owen Benjamin, Steve Byrne and more.

As head of Facilities for a major retailer (H-E-B Food/Drugs) for 20 years, Jack co-founded Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM) and was elected President to establish PRSM magazine. Jack is a writer, speaker, golf-concierge and happiness coach. He has researched and studied happiness for over 40 years.
Jack was a prolific writer for Examiner.com, with over 1,900 articles written in six years. His articles and stories have appeared in AXS Entertainment, The ROWDY Country Music, Memphis Flash, and numerous magazines.

He is author of “Miracles of Justice,” a true courtroom drama novel about social injustice and miracles.

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