Alternative Independent Bases for Trial Court Ruling

Except as indicated, all indented material is copied directly from the court’s opinion.

Opinions of the Tennessee Supreme Court

Opinions of the Tennessee Court of Appeals

Ramos v. Caldwell, No. M2022-00222-COA-R3-CV, p. 5 (Tenn. Ct. App. Feb. 6, 2023). 

This court has previously confronted circumstances in which a trial court’s ruling is supported by alternative independent bases but not all of those bases have been challenged on appeal. In such circumstances, we have explained that

[g]enerally, where a trial court provides more than one basis for its ruling, the appellant must appeal all the alternative grounds for the ruling. See 5 Am. Jur. 2d Appellate Review § 718 (“[W]here a separate and independent ground from the one appealed supports the judgment made below, and is not challenged on appeal, the appellate court must affirm.”); see also Tower Oaks Blvd., LLC v. Procida, 219 Md. App. 376, 392, 100 A.3d 1255, 1265 (Md. 2014) (“The law of appellate review establishes that, ‘[w]hen a separate and independent ground that supports a judgment is not challenged on appeal, the appellate court must affirm.’”) (citation omitted); Prater v. State Farm Lloyds, 217 S.W.3d 739, 740–41 (Tex. App. 2007) (“When a separate and independent ground that supports a ruling is not challenged on appeal, we must affirm the lower court’s ruling.”); Johnson v. Commonwealth of Virginia, 45 Va. App. 113, 116, 609 S.E.2d 58, 60 (Va. 2005) (“[W]e join the majority of jurisdictions holding that in ‘situations in which there is one or more alternative holdings on an issue,’ the appellant’s ‘failure to address one of the holdings results in a waiver of any claim of error with respect to the court’s decision on that issue.’”) (citation omitted).

Hatfield v. Allenbrooke Nursing & Rehab. Ctr., LLC, No. W2017-00957-COA-R3-CV, 2018 WL 3740565, at *7 (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 6, 2018).



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