Advisory Commission Comments to Rules 54.01-54.04

Advisory Commission Comments

54.01: The definition of “Judgment” includes and makes no distinction between “Judgment,” “Order” or “Decree.”

Advisory Commission Comment [1991]

Rule 54.04(3) [deleted in 2001] was formerly numbered Rule 43.06. It is moved here because it has to do with court costs rather than admissibility of evidence.

Advisory Commission Comment [1993]

The amendment to Rule 54.04 is consistent with the Supreme Court’s opinion in Lock v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 809 S.W.2d 483 (Tenn. 1991). The expanded rule defines discretionary costs, provides for a timely motion, and makes clear that a notice of appeal will not deprive the trial court of jurisdiction to entertain a motion for discretionary costs.

If the plaintiff takes a voluntary nonsuit, Rule 41.04 gives the trial judge discretion to require payment of costs upon recommencement of the action. Revised Rule 54.04 would permit assessment of costs at an earlier date, assuming the defendant submits and the court enters an order formally dismissing the case pursuant to plaintiff’s nonsuit. A motion for discretionary costs in that instance must be made within thirty days of entry of the order.

Advisory Commission Comment [1995]

This is a clarifying amendment to Rule 54.04(2).

Advisory Commission Comment [2001]

Interpreter fees are added to the list in subsection (2). Consequently prior subsection (3) on court-appointed interpreters is no longer needed, as subsection (2) covers both privately retained and judicially appointed interpreters.

Advisory Commission Comment [2004]

Some experts, including medical doctors, are furnishing reports stipulated by adversaries to be accurate and truthful, thereby avoiding the necessity of a deposition. The amendment to Rule 54.04(2) would allow recovery of related expenses as discretionary costs.

Advisory Commission Comment [2005]

In some cases, the “prevailing party” under the trial court’s judgment may not be the prevailing party following an appeal of the judgment. The amendment to Rule 54.04(2) provides a procedure for requesting discretionary costs in cases in which: (1) the appellate court’s decision is a final disposition of the merits of the case; and (2) the appellate court’s decision results in a new prevailing party. The amendment does not cover cases in which the appellate court’s decision is not a final disposition of merits of the case, i.e., cases that are remanded for a new trial or for other proceedings on the merits; in such cases, a motion for discretionary costs may be filed following the trial court’s ultimate judgment on remand.

Advisory Commission Comment [2013]

Tenn. Sup. Ct. R. 42 was amended (effective July 1, 2012) to govern the payment of costs for services of interpreters used in proceedings covered by that rule.  Rule 54.04(2) was amended to provide that any “reasonable and necessary interpreter fees not paid pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 42” may be allowed as discretionary costs.

Advisory Commission Comment [2014]

54.04. Effective July 1, 2012, Tennessee Code Annotated Section 20-12-119 was amended to add subsection (c) which authorizes the trial court, under certain circumstances, to award costs and reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees to a party who prevails on a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Section 20-12-119(c) requires the party or parties whose claim or claims were dismissed to pay the awarded costs and fees.

Advisory Commission Comment [2018]

The 2018 amendment renumbers the current text of Rule 54.02 as subsection 54.02(1) and adds subsection 54.02(2), which, in conjunction with changes to Rule 24, Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure, and Rules 3 and 4, Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, provides for an appeal of right from a trial court’s order granting or denying a motion to intervene. Effective July 1, 2018, any order granting or denying a motion to intervene shall be a final judgment, and a timely appeal of that final judgment shall be the only method to appeal the grand or denial of motion to intervene.


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