Tennessee State Fair Association lawsuit dismissed

Another legal hurdle for Nashville’s Major League Soccer stadium has been cleared.

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Site plan in District 17. Tim Sullivan/For Club and Country

After Save Our Fairgrounds saw its lawsuit dismissed in January (with some pointed language from Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle), the Tennessee State Fair Association filed a suit of its own. -The TSFA is a private non-profit that has held the contract to operate the event each year – it is worth noting that TSFA has not explicitly been granted the contract for the 2019 edition of the State Fair, though negotiations have been ongoing (with no resolution I’m aware of).

Today, that lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed without prejudice in Chancery Court. So what is “voluntary” dismissal, and what does “without prejudice” mean? Those two terms are going to be important when it comes to the future of the legal battle.

  • Voluntary dismissal comes at the request of the plaintiff (the party who brought the suit, in this case TSFA). It’s essentially what a layman would consider “dropping the charges” by the party who initially brought the grievance in the first place.
  • Dismissal without prejudice is the lighter form of dismissal. It means that the same suit can be re-filed (whereas in the alternative, dismissal with prejudice, the case is permanently settled, with the plaintiffs prohibited from bringing the same suit in front of the court).

So what do we have in practical terms? First of all, there is no current litigation seeking to halt the construction of a Major League Soccer stadium at the TennesseeState Fairgrounds. Secondly, the most recent case was dropped by the plaintiff (albeit with the opportunity to re-file at a later date if they so choose), possibly indicating that they don’t intend to attempt to sue to halt/prevent said construction.

While neither the Save Our Fairgrounds suit nor the Tennessee State Fair Association suit seemed likely to succeed in the first place (read the decision linked at the bottom of this post for the nitty-gritty as to why that might be the case), having them officially out of the courts is certainly preferable to the alternative.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the battle in the courts is completely over. SOF’s window for appeal is coming up on its closure in just under a week, and while there hasn’t been as much rumbling about an appeal lately, they indicated at the time of the initial dismissal that they planned to pursue the case “all the way to the Supreme Court,” which seems a lofty goal to say the least. The TSFA reserves the right to file a new suit of its own, despite today’s dismissal. Any other party which can establish standing in the matter may also choose to file suit.

However, with those cases appearing fully settled at this point (and construction already under way on the new Expo buildings), the sailing hasn’t been this smooth since the initial votes in Metro Council.

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