Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/26/2016
Format: 08/26/2016
Chuck's Package Store et al. v. City of Morristown
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas J. Wright

This case originated when six retail wine and liquor stores filed suit against the City of Morristown seeking a refund of a portion of inspection fees that had been erroneously calculated by the City. The fees were assessed by the City on the purchases at wholesale of alcoholic beverages. The City failed to use the correct percentage mandated by Tenn. Code Ann. § 57-3-501 (2013). It is undisputed that the plaintiffs overpaid the City; since the plaintiffs were understandably unaware of the error, they failed to state that they were paying the fees under protest. The City moved to dismiss the case, citing the plaintiffs' failure to pay “under protest.”

Hamblen County Court of Appeals 06/30/16
Francis L. Johnston v. Charles Glen "Chuck" Johnston
Authoring Judge: D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jerri Bryant

This is an interlocutory appeal as of right pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B from the Trial Court’s denial of a Motion to Recuse filed during post-judgment proceedings in a case involving a dispute over the validity of a check written against the revocable living trust of the decedent. Having reviewed the petition for recusal appeal filed by the Defendant/Appellant, Charles Glen Johnston (“Defendant”), pursuant to Rule 10B of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court, we affirm the Trial Court.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 02/20/15
Francis L. Johnston, as Trustee of the Mae Charlayne Johnston Revocable Family Trust v. Charles Glen Johnston
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jerri S. Bryant

This action involves a dispute regarding the validity of an $80,000 check written against the revocable living trust account of the decedent by the defendant, who is the decedent’s nephew. Two days before the decedent’s death, the defendant deposited the check into a personal savings account he held jointly with the decedent. The plaintiff, serving as trustee and as personal representative of the decedent’s estate, filed a complaint seeking recovery of the $80,000. The trial court issued an ex parte restraining order, directing, inter alia, the bank where the joint account was held to transfer $80,000 to the clerk and master for safekeeping in the registry of the court. Following a bench trial, the trial court found by clear and convincing evidence that the $80,000 check at issue was a forgery and that the defendant did not have permission from the decedent to sign the check. The court directed the $80,000 to be transferred from the clerk and master to the decedent’s estate account and dismissed the defendant’s counterclaim for damages. The defendant appeals. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 03/06/14
F. A. B. v. D. L. B.
Authoring Judge: Judge Holly M. Kirby
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Robert E. Burch

This post-divorce appeal involves the suspension of parenting time. The mother made repeated allegations that the father was abusing their child; the father denied all of the allegations. After numerous proceedings, the father asserted that the mother was coaching the child to make false allegations of abuse and asked the trial court to terminate the mother’s parenting time. The trial court ordered a psychological evaluation of both parties and the child. After considering the evaluations and substantial testimony, the trial court determined that the father had committed no abuse and found that the child would be emotionally harmed by continued contact with the mother. The trial court then suspended the mother’s parenting time and enjoined all contact with the child until the mother obtains mental health counseling and treatment. The mother appeals. Based on our careful review of the record, we affirm.

Humphreys County Court of Appeals 10/29/13
Donna Bellomy v. AutoZone, Inc.
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Frank Brown

The plaintiff in this case is Donna Bellomy. The defendant is a prior employer of hers, AutoZone, Inc. In Bellomy v. AutoZone, Inc., No. E2009-00351-COA-R3-CV, 2009 WL 4059158 (Tenn. Ct. App. E.S., filed Nov. 24, 2009) (“Bellomy I”), we vacated, in part, a summary judgment dismissing the Plaintiff’s entire complaint. We held that the Plaintiff had created genuine issues of material fact with respect to her Tennessee Human Rights Act (“THRA”) claims. On remand, the case progressed through discovery and opening statements, following which the trial court granted a mistrial, holding that the Plaintiff had violated certain rulings made by the court on AutoZone’s motions in limine. The court later granted the defendant partial summary judgment and dismissed the constructive discharge aspect of the Plaintiff’s THRA claims. In the same order, the trial court held the Plaintiff in civil contempt and ruled that the dismissal of the constructive discharge claim was also appropriate as a sanction for violating the court’s rulings entered on AutoZone’s motions. The Plaintiff appeals. We vacate the judgment of dismissal and all other orders of the trial court inconsistent with this opinion and remand for further proceedings.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 04/27/12
Velda J. Shore v. Maple Lane Farms, LLC, et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Telford E. Forgety, Jr.

The plaintiff homeowner appeals from the trial court’s dismissal of her complaint, in which the court found the defendants’ farm activities were protected from the application of the local zoning laws by the Tennessee Right-to-Farm Act, Tennessee Code Annotated section 43-26-101, et seq. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Appeals 04/11/12
Mary Susan Rehrer v. Mark Elwyn Rehrer
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Herschel Pickens Franks
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jacqueline S. Bolton

In this case petitioner wife obtained an order of protection against her husband. The husband, following trial, filed a Motion to reopen the proof, pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 59, and attached numerous affidavits contradicting some of petitioner's evidence presented at trial. The Trial Court overruled the Motion and the husband has appealed. We affirm the Judgment of the Trial Court.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 09/15/11
In Re: Skyler J. H.
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Patricia J. Cottrell
Trial Court Judge: Judge Betty K. Adams Green

The father of a young child born out of wedlock petitioned the juvenile court to be awarded custody of the child. The mother responded by asking the court to award custody to her. After many delays, the juvenile court referee conducted a lengthy hearing and granted the father’s petition, holding that although it was a close question, it was in the child’s best interest for the father to exercise custody. The mother appealed to the Juvenile Court Judge, who reached the same conclusion after another hearing. The mother now appeals to this court, contending that custody should have been awarded to her for several reasons, including the operation of the tender years doctrine. We affirm the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 02/28/11
In Re: Christopher M. - Tennessee Department of Children's Services v. Ebony M.
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Alan E. Highers
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Kenny Armstrong

Mother appeals from the termination of her parental rights on the grounds of abandonment, substantial noncompliance with permanency plans, and mental incompetence. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 11/01/10
Glynda Shealy vs. Chuong C. Williams, et al
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Frank V. Williams, III

This appeal involves a dispute between adjacent landowners over boundary lines with respect to a fence and ownership of property constituting a substantial portion of a concrete driveway to one neighbor's house. Glynda Shealy ("Plaintiff") sued Chuong C. Williams and Nickie Ann Dunker ("Defendants") for trespass and malicious encroachment, claiming that Defendants' concrete driveway and backyard fence encroached upon Plaintiff's adjoining properties. In response, both Defendants asserted a defense of adverse possession. Upon conclusion of a bench trial, the trial court found, inter alia, that the concrete driveway intruded on Plaintiff's property but that Defendant Dunker had a prescriptive easement in a gravel driveway for ingress and egress. Additionally, the trial court ordered Defendant Dunker to remove her backyard fence to the legally established boundary lines and awarded Plaintiff $50 in nominal damages. After the trial court dismissed Defendant Williams from this lawsuit, Defendant Dunker filed a motion to amend her answer to add a defensive claim of easement by prescription. The trial court granted the motion. Plaintiff appealed. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

Loudon County Court of Appeals 09/08/10
Terry C. Clemons v. Chuck's Marine, et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge David R. Farmer
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Arnold B. Goldin

The trial court determined Defendant orally agreed to assume outstanding debt on personal property offered for consignment sales. The trial court further determined Defendant was equitably estopped from asserting the Statute of Frauds as a defense. We reverse.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/13/08
Gerald Ingle, D/B/A Ingle's Sawmill & Log Co. v. Christopher W. Head and Wife, Bernadine L. Head
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Alan E. Highers
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ron E. Harmon

This appeal involves a motion to set aside an execution on a vehicle. The plaintiff received a
judgment against the defendants in the amount of $62,500, which he promptly recorded in the county register’s office. The defendants subsequently purchased a new car, and a sheriff levied execution on the car to partially satisfy the judgment. The defendants filed this motion seeking to have the execution set aside because it was defective for various reasons, and they claimed that a third party held a security interest in the vehicle and had priority over the execution lien. The trial court denied the motion to set aside the execution and ordered the sheriff’s department to sell the vehicle. The defendants appealed. We affirm.

Hardin County Court of Appeals 12/26/07
Shanette Collier Chandler v. Kylan Chandler
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Highers
Trial Court Judge: Judge D'Army Bailey

This appeal arises from a custody dispute involving a minor child. The plaintiff mother filed a complaint for divorce against the defendant father. The parties entered into a marital dissolution agreement as to property and debt division, but they could not come to an agreement on custody for their three-year-old son. A trial was held on the custody and visitation issues. The trial court granted the divorce, named the mother the primary residential parent of the child, and gave the mother full decision-making authority for the child. The parenting plan adopted by the court allowed the father visitation on alternating weekends and holidays, and for four weeks each summer. The trial court awarded the mother the federal tax exemption for the child, as well as $1,500 in attorney’s fees that she incurred litigating the custody issue. The father appeals the trial court’s initial custody decision regarding visitation and decision-making, and the award to the mother of the federal tax exemption and attorney’s fees. We affirm in part, and reverse in part.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 06/28/07
Susan Simmons, et al., v. State Farm General Insurance Company, et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge David R. Farmer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Childers

Homeowner’s insurance policyholders filed a complaint against an insurance carrier seeking benefits under policy and a declaratory judgment that policy language was ambiguous. Homeowners filed a motion seeking certification as a class action. The insurance carrier filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that plaintiff Beckwith’s claim for benefits was time barred and plaintiff Simmons’s claim was non-justiciable. The insurance carrier filed separate motions to stay discovery and defer the class certification hearing until after the hearing on the motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. The trial court granted the insurance carrier summary judgment against all plaintiffs, thereby disposing of the class certification issue. Homeowners appeal from the order granting summary judgment. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 11/24/04
Amelia Swafford v. Bobby M. Johnson
Authoring Judge: Judge William B. Cain
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Tom E. Gray

The instant appeal was stayed in 1999 by this Court's order upon suggestion of bankruptcy. The stay has been lifted, and the case proceeds on Amelia Swafford's appeal from the trial court's order in favor of the defendants Bobby and Betty Johnson and Old Hickory Engineering & Machine Co., Inc. ("OHEMCO"). We reverse the trial court.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 07/22/04
Jack Parks vs. Chuck Rich
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Jean A. Stanley
Jack H. Parks sued Chuck Rich, the owner of an apartment complex. Parks initially complained of a back injury resulting from his jumping off a first floor balcony railing, and irritation to his body caused by a bug spray applied in his apartment unit, both of which incidents occurred at the complex. The trial court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff appeals, contending that summary judgment is not appropriate with respect to the bug spray matter and that the trial court erred with respect to certain discovery matters. We affirm.
Washington County Court of Appeals 04/30/03
Scott Jurgensmeyer, et al v. James F. Prater
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Patricia J. Cottrell
Trial Court Judge: Ellen Hobbs Lyle
In this consolidated case involving claims of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract, and violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, the trial court granted summary judgment for the defendant on the ground that he had not acted individually and his corporation had not been named as a defendant. For the following reasons, we reverse and remand the decision of the trial court.
Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/24/03
Peter Zabaski v. Mary Ann Zabaski
Authoring Judge: Judge Ben H. Cantrell
Trial Court Judge: Marietta M. Shipley
The trial court granted a divorce to the parents of an only child with a history of severe medical problems, and awarded them joint custody. The wife contends on appeal that the trial court's order of custody and visitation was not in the child's best interest. She also argues that the court erred by setting the husband's child support obligation too low, and by failing to award her alimony in futuro. We affirm the trial court.
Davidson County Court of Appeals 12/11/02
Chuck Robertson v. Melvin G. George, et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge William B. Cain
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle

This lawsuit arises out of a real estate contract. The plaintiff, Chuck Robertson, a residential home builder, contracted to purchase sixteen (16) lots from the defendant, Melvin George. After the parties entered into the contract, the plaintiff discovered that the official flood plain designation had been adjusted to include nine (9) of the lots the plaintiff contracted to purchase and filed suit on the theories of intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, mutual mistake, unjust enrichment, and violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. The defendants filed a counter-complaint for breach of contract. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The trial court dismissed the plaintiff's action holding that the mistake was a mistake of law. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/05/01
Chuck Wallace vs. Bob Chase
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Alan E. Highers
Trial Court Judge: Ron E. Harmon
This appeal arises from a boundary line dispute between the Appellants and the Appellees. The Appellees filed a complaint with the Chancery Court of Carroll County against the Appellants. The Appellants filed a counter-complaint against the Appellees. Following a trial, the trial court reformed the deeds of the parties. The trial court moved the disputed corner of the properties twelve and one half feet due south of a PK nail in the roadway. The trial court also granted a permanent easement for an existing driveway to the Appellants.
Carroll County Court of Appeals 11/20/00
Authoring Judge: Judge Holly M. Kirby
Trial Court Judge: George R. Ellis
Gibson County Court of Appeals 09/18/00