Bass firm accused of malpractice over land sale

1985 value of Sims Williamson family farm under dispute for second time

Local attorney Cecil Sims Irvin has sued the Bass Berry & Sims law firm as well as attorney Wilson “Woody” Sims, one of its eponymous partners, for malpractice, fraud, negligent misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty, all tied to a 1985 Williamson County land sale, the value of which Irvin is disputing for the second time.

Irvin was the owner of a 4.13 percent interest in the Sims family's Cecilwood Farm in Williamson County. Sims represented several family members — including Irvin — and sold the land sometime in 1985, according to the complaint filed June 6 in Davidson County Circuit Court.

Irvin alleges the transaction occurred without proper family permission and without professional land evaluation. It isn’t clear how many acres Irvin owned, however, the land sold for $9,100 per acre, much lower than the $17,000 Irvin thought warranted, according to the complaint.

The complaint — download it here — delineates a circuitous and unclear series of facts. Irvin was contacted but would not comment. Sims wasn't available for comment. However, Bass Partner Dewees Berry said the case has no merit and will be vigorously defended. The Bass law firm will not represent itself but has hired Darrell Townsend, a partner at Howell & Fisher whose practice specializes in "claims against professionals" — to advocate for it. Townsend wasn’t available for comment Monday.

This is the second time this matter has been brought before a court of law.

“On May 20, 2011, this suit was filed under civil action #11C1958. Action was voluntarily dismissed without prejudice on June 13, 2011,” Irvin's lawsuit states.

Now Irvin wants the court to order Sims and the Bass firm to pay him the difference between the Cecilwood Farm sales price and what Irvin believes the 1985 value should have been. It’s not clear what that amount is except the complaint refers to the market value professional appraisers and land developers would have given the land at the time, an amount not indicated.

Irvin is representing himself.