A Circuit Court judge in Shelbyville, Tennessee has been reprimanded by a disciplinary court for waiting 11 years to rule on a case.
Judge F. Lee Russell had taken the case involving a complaint filed by David Reha against Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Co.
According to court records, Reha, a builder, had an insurance policy with Tennessee Farmers Mutual and while constructing a house for a customer, a structural damage had occurred.
The damage was repaired at an estimated cost of $11,703.35 but the insurance company offered to pay only $3,900.
Reha, in his lawsuit, complained that it was insufficient to pay the loss and sought a bad faith penalty of 25 percent. However, the insurance company contested that the issued policy does not provide coverage for defective work of the insured party or his subcontractors. Moreover, it said David Reha LLC was not a named insurer under the policy.
In April 1998, Reha settled the matter for $13,000 and Russell took the matter under advisement in 1999. The case was subject to a bench trial on Nov. 12, 1999 and a motion to ascertain the status of the case was filed by Reha's lawyer on March 12, 2003.
On July 23, 2009, Reha's lawyer filed an additional motion to ascertain the status of the case and Russell indicated in a letter dated August 13, 2009 that he would submit a memorandum opinion and order in the case on Sept. 4, 2009.
However, Russell didn't rule on the case until October 12, 2010 - nearly 11 years after the bench trial. And, that too only after receiving a notice of complaint of Reha from the Disciplinary Counsel to the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary.
According to Presiding Judge Don. R. Ash, Russell had demonstrated excessive delay and had failed to comply with Canon 313(8) which requires a judge to dispose of all matters promptly, efficiently, and fairly.
Ash reprimanded Rusell in a strongly worded letter on Monday and warned that in the future, Russell should follow the Code of Judicial Conduct and…decide promptly the cases submitted to him.