Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 11/20/2019
Format: 11/20/2019
Maurice Pinson v. David Kent DeBoer M.D. Et Al.
M2018-00593-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kelvin D. Jones

Appeal of an award of discretionary costs to Defendants in healthcare liability action that had been voluntarily dismissed. The trial court initially awarded Defendants, inter alia, expert witness fees for medical providers who had treated Plaintiff, expenses for videotaped depositions, and costs for the travel time and deposition preparation time for Plaintiff’s vocational expert. On Plaintiff’s motion, the court modified the award to exclude videographer expenses, expenses attendant to the vocational expert’s deposition, and other court reporter expenses. We modify the award to exclude the witness fees for the providers who treated Plaintiff and to include the court reporter fee for the deposition of Plaintiff’s vocational expert; vacate the portion of the award that reduces the amount of court reporter fees and expenses and remand the case for reconsideration of the award; and reverse the order to the extent it requires the Plaintiff to post a bond or pay discretionary costs prior to re-filing the suit. 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 07/30/19
Toni Barrios, Et Al. v. Charlie Simpkins, Et Al.
M2018-00122-COA-R9-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Philip E. Smith

The plaintiffs filed a complaint against the defendants for trespass and sought a declaration of the boundary line between the two properties, among other things. Following discovery, the defendants moved for summary judgment on the grounds that a prior case involving the plaintiffs and the prior owner of the defendants’ property had established the boundary line between the two properties. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion. The plaintiffs appeal. We reverse the court’s decision and remand for it to hear evidence and to establish the boundary line between the two properties.

Cheatham County Court of Appeals 07/29/19
The Parking Guys, Inc. v. Metropolitan Government Of Nashville & Davidson County, Tennessee Ex Rel Traffic & Parking Commission
M2018-01409-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor William E. Young

This appeal concerns the denial of a valet parking permit. The Parking Guys, Inc. (“Parking Guys”) sought a permit for valet parking from the Traffic and Parking Commission (“the Commission”) of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (“Metro”). Despite a study reflecting no traffic problems caused by Parking Guys’ activities, the Commission denied the permit. Parking Guys then filed a petition for common-law writ of certiorari in the Chancery Court for Davidson County (“the Trial Court”). The Trial Court found that, notwithstanding the study, the Commission’s decision was supported by material evidence including the firsthand observations of local business owners. The Trial Court also denied a petition to intervene filed by Linda Schipani (“Schipani”), an individual sued by Parking Guys in federal court for allegedly conspiring to deny the permit. Parking Guys appeals to this Court, as does Schipani still seeking to intervene. Parking Guys argues that the Commission’s decision was based on politics rather than material evidence. Schipani, for her part, argues she has a special interest in this case warranting her intervention because of the federal suit filed against her even though it has been dismissed. We hold that the Commission’s decision was supported by material evidence. We further find no reversible error in the Trial Court’s decision to deny Schipani’s motion to intervene. We affirm the judgment of the Trial Court. 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 07/29/19
Felicitas Hayes v. Christopher Daniel Scoggin
W2019-00057-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jim Kyle

Mother and father were divorced in 2013. They have four children together. Disputes regarding child custody have spanned four states and nearly six years. In this iteration, on June 9, 2017, mother filed a “Petition to Enroll Foreign Decree, For Immediate Injunctive Relief, for Sciare Facias, and Citation for Criminal and Civil Contempt, for Modification of Custody Order, and for Entry of Temporary Parenting Plan.” In his answer, father requested that, pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-5-103(c), he be reimbursed for the attorney’s fees incurred as a result of defending against mother’s petition. After nine months of litigation, mother voluntarily dismissed her petition without prejudice. As a result of mother’s voluntary dismissal prior to trial, father’s claim for attorney’s fees was not resolved. Following mother’s dismissal, another dispute arose regarding summer custody. On April 20, 2018, father filed a petition to resolve the summer custody issue; it was resolved by a consent order. Following the consent order, father filed a petition to recover the attorney’s fees and costs incurred in defending against mother’s voluntarily dismissed petition. Mother moved to dismiss father’s petition alleging that res judicata precluded father from seeking to recover his attorney’s fees in that matter, because he did not raise the issue in his summer custody petition. The trial court disagreed. Mother applied for an interlocutory appeal; this Court denied her application. The trial court subsequently awarded father $11,963.08 in attorney’s fees and costs. Mother appeals. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/25/19
Melanie Robertson, et al. v. Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association
W2019-00015-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jim Kyle

Based on its bylaws, Appellant Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association denied three students, Appellees herein, permission to play football at a local high school. Appellees filed a petition for restraining order and for temporary and permanent injunctions asking the trial court to prohibit the Association from denying the Students permission to play football. The trial court immediately granted temporary injunctions; later, the trial court granted permanent injunctions. Appellant appeals. Based on the allegations contained in Appellees’ petition, the trial court did not have authority to interfere in the internal affairs of TSSAA concerning the Students’ eligibility to play football for the 2018-2019 school year. Therefore, we reverse and remand the case with instructions to the trial court to dismiss the case and collect the costs.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 07/25/19
Dean Smith v. Tennessee Board of Paroles
M2018-01354-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins

This appeal concerns an incarcerated inmate’s filing of a petition for writ of certiorari, claiming that the Tennessee Board of Paroles acted arbitrarily, fraudulently, illegally, and in excess of its authority in denying his request for parole. The trial court granted the petition but ultimately affirmed the denial of parole. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 07/25/19
Patricia Randolph v. White County, Tennessee, Et Al.
M2018-01496-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

A mother brought suit against White County and its Sheriff for negligent infliction of emotional distress arising out of a situation in which the Sheriff erroneously informed the mother that her son had been shot and killed by deputies. The trial court dismissed the suit, ruling that the Sheriff was immune from suit under the Governmental Tort Liability Act and White County was immune from suit by application of the public duty doctrine. Mother appeals, asserting that neither defendant is immune from suit. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment.

White County Court of Appeals 07/24/19
Metropolitan Government Of Nashville And Davidson County Ex Rel. State of Tennessee v. Delinquent Taxpayers As Shown On The 2011 Real Property Tax Records Of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville And Davidson County, Tennessee
M2018-00357-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ellen H. Lyle

This case involves a dispute regarding a trial court’s assessment of interest on a parcel of real property subject to a redemption action. The trial court required the redeeming party to pay interest to the tax sale purchasers for the time that elapsed during the redemption proceedings. The redeeming party appealed the trial court’s application of interest to any period after the redeeming party had filed its notice of redemption. Following our thorough review of this issue, we agree that assessment of interest beyond the date of the filing of redemption notice was improper. We therefore reverse the trial court’s assessment of interest and modify the trial court’s judgment accordingly.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 07/24/19
Morristown Heart Consultants, PLLC et al. v. Pragnesh Patel, M.D.
E2018-01590-COA-R9-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert E. Lee Davies

We granted this Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 9 interlocutory appeal to consider whether the Trial Court erred in ordering disclosure of the representation file maintained by attorney Troy L. Bowlin, II, during his representation of Morristown Heart Consultants, PLLC (“MHC”) to a member of MHC. We find and hold that the Trial Court did not err in determining that MHC had not properly authorized the hiring of Mr. Bowlin and that attorney-client privilege did not apply to prevent disclosure of Mr. Bowlin’s legal file to a member of MHC with fifty percent financial rights and thirty-three percent governing rights to the company. We, therefore, affirm the Trial Court’s order permitting the member to acquire Mr. Bowlin’s legal file concerning MHC and conduct relevant discovery concerning that representation.

Hamblen County Court of Appeals 07/24/19
Wayne Jones, Jr. Et Al. v. State of Tennessee
M2017-02198-COA-AR3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Commissioner Robert N. Hibbett

This wrongful death action arises from the tragic death of a state university student-athlete during football practice. The student’s parents filed a claim against the State of Tennessee in the Tennessee Claims Commission. After a trial, the Commissioner found that the parents had failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that: (1) the head athletic trainer violated the applicable standard of care after the student’s collapse; (2) the trainer’s negligence was the cause in fact of the student’s death; and (3) the university was otherwise negligent in caring for the student after his collapse. Because the evidence does not preponderate against the Commissioner’s causation findings, we affirm.

Court of Appeals 07/24/19
Donna M. Sabella F/K/A Donna Frazier F/K/A Donna Sabella Frazier v. Naomi Foreman, Et Al.
M2019-01067-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Charles K. Smith

This is an appeal from a final judgment entered on May 14, 2019. Because the defendants did not file their notice of appeal within thirty (30) days after entry of the final judgment as required by Tenn. R. App. P. 4(a), we dismiss the appeal.

Wilson County Court of Appeals 07/23/19
Carolyn Coffman et al. v. Armstrong International, Inc. et al.
E2017-01985-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge William T. Ailor

This consolidated appeal arises from a product liability action brought by Donald Coffman and his wife, Carolyn Coffman, after Mr. Coffman was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Plaintiffs asserted several claims against multiple defendants for their alleged involvement in Mr. Coffman’s exposure to asbestos at his workplace. The trial court dismissed their claims against some of the original defendants. The court granted summary judgment to the remaining defendants. Specifically, the court found that: (1) plaintiffs’ claims against one defendant were time-barred by the four-year construction statute of repose set forth in Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-3-202 (2017); (2) plaintiffs’ claims against three defendants were time-barred by the ten-year statute of repose set forth in Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-28-103 (2012); (3) ten defendants affirmatively negated their alleged duty to warn; and (4) plaintiffs presented insufficient evidence of causation with respect to seven defendants. The court denied plaintiffs’ motion to alter or amend certain summary judgment orders. Plaintiffs filed separate notices of appeal for each final judgment entered by the trial court. These cases were consolidated for the purpose of oral argument before the Court of Appeals. For the reasons stated in this opinion, we vacate all of the final judgments entered by the trial court.

Knox County Court of Appeals 07/22/19
State of Tennessee Ex Rel. Claiborne County v. Delinquent Taxpayer, Albertano Alvarez Et Al.
E2018-01710-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Elizabeth C. Asbury

This appeal arises from the redemption of a parcel of real property purchased at a delinquent taxpayer sale. The appellants were lienholders on a parcel of real property sold to a third party purchaser at a delinquent tax sale. Within days after the tax sale, the lienholders filed a petition for redemption of the property. In response, the purchaser filed a motion to protest the validity of the lien or, alternatively, a claim to recover the expenses that had been incurred to preserve the value of the property by clearing debris and personalty from the property. The lienholders then filed a cross-claim alleging conversion and trespass to chattels. After the purchaser withdrew his objection to the validity of the lien, a bench trial was conducted, and the trial court granted the lienholders’ petition for redemption upon the following conditions relevant to this appeal: that they reimburse the purchaser in the amounts of $8,579.60 for expenses incurred in cleaning up the property and an additional $600.00 for the storage of personalty. The lienholders’ conversion and trespass to chattels claims were subsequently dismissed. Having determined that the expenses were incurred to prevent permissive waste on the property—and concluding that such expenses are recoverable despite having been incurred prior to the entry of the order confirming the sale—we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Claiborne County Court of Appeals 07/22/19
Save Our Fairgrounds Et Al. v. Metropolitan Government Of Nashville And Davidson County, Tennessee
M2019-00724-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ellen H. Lyle

Appellants filed a complaint for a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief against the Metropolitan Government of Nashville & Davidson County related to the city’s decision to allow a soccer stadium to be built at the fairgrounds. The complaint alleged that the action violated several provisions of the city’s charter intended to protect the fairgrounds for fair uses. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the city on the basis that the additional uses for the fairgrounds did not violate Metropolitan Charter section 11.602. Because the trial court’s order fails to adjudicate Appellants’ claims that the city’s action violated additional charter provisions, we dismiss this appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 07/18/19
Noah Ryan Et Al. v. Laverna Soucie
E2018-01121-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Pamela A. Fleenor

This appeal arises from a dispute concerning the defendant’s conduct, which impeded the plaintiffs’ use of a state right of way for ingress to and egress from the plaintiffs’ commercial property. The trial court entered a judgment in favor of the plaintiffs following its determination that the defendant had created a nuisance and had intentionally interfered with the plaintiffs’ business relationships. The defendant has appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 07/18/19
Tennessee Farmers Cooperative, Et Al. v. Ted D. Rains
M2018-01097-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael W. Binkley

Defendant in a debt collection case appeals the entry of judgment against him, contending that the court erred in setting the case for trial with only two days’ notice, in granting a motion in limine on the day of trial, and in its award of attorney’s fees to the Plaintiff. We modify the judgment to reduce the amount of attorney’s fees awarded; in all other respects, we affirm the judgment.  

Perry County Court of Appeals 07/18/19
Adrian Delk v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00224-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor William C. Cole

Appellant inmate filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in the chancery court seeking redress for various errors involving the sentence he ultimately received following a plea of guilty to two felonies. Because we conclude that Appellant failed to show he had no other equally effective means to redress these alleged errors, we affirm the trial court’s dismissal of Appellant’s petition.

Hardeman County Court of Appeals 07/18/19
Gilbert Heredia, Et Al. v. Bill Gibbons, Et Al.
M2016-02062-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle

The plaintiffs, some of whom had an interest in property that had been subject to forfeiture proceedings, filed a quo warranto action alleging misconduct by public officials in the administration of the proceedings. The plaintiffs also sought declaratory relief and judicial review “from each final judgment of forfeiture during the period permitted by Tennessee law.” On The defendants’ motion, the trial court dismissed the case on various grounds, including lack of subject matter jurisdiction and lack of standing. In the case of one plaintiff, we conclude that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to entertain a petition for judicial review. We further conclude that the plaintiffs either failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted or lacked standing to pursue the claims. So we affirm the dismissal.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 07/17/19
Albert J. Ahler v. Charles Steffan Scarborough Et Al.
E2018-01102-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Elizabeth Asbury

Plaintiff filed a complaint for declaratory judgment seeking to declare Old Stage Road a public road. Plaintiff sought to use the disputed road to access his property; his property does not abut the road. The plaintiff, asserting that he was also there on behalf of the public, also sought to have the road declared public in order to access defendants’ private property for recreation. Defendants filed a counterclaim seeking a declaratory judgment. Defendants argued that absent a ruling related to defendants’ property rights, the plaintiff and those he represents were likely to interpret any ruling favorable to them as a declaration of their right to trespass upon defendants’ private property for recreational purposes, instead of a public road to gain access to some lawful destination. After a trial, the court held that defendants had shown that public use of the area in question had been abandoned. The disputed road was held to be the private property of defendants. Plaintiff appeals. We affirm.

Roane County Court of Appeals 07/17/19
Sherita Michelle Polk v. Frank Edward Polk
W2018-02052-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma D. McGee
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor James F. Butler

This appeal arises from a divorce between parties with no minor children. The husband appealed raising numerous issues related to property division. He also challenges the trial court’s denial of his request for alimony. The appellate record contains no transcript or statement of evidence that complies with Rule 24 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. Further the husband’s brief is woefully deficient. Because of the husband’s failure to comply with the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure and the Rules of this Court, there is no basis upon which to conclude that the evidence preponderates against the findings of the chancery court and the rulings based thereon. We affirm the judgment of the chancery court and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Madison County Court of Appeals 07/16/19
James M. Morris v. Tennessee Board of Probation & Parole
M2018-01998-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma D. McGee
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman

This appeal involves a petition for writ of certiorari filed in chancery court by a prisoner after he was denied parole. The chancery court concluded that the petition was timely filed but found that the issues presented were moot and lacked substantive merit. The prisoner appeals. For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court’s order of dismissal on other grounds.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 07/15/19
In Re Nicholas C. Et Al.
E2019-00165-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brad Lewis Davidson

The trial court terminated the parental rights of Mother and Father to their four children on the grounds of abandonment by failure to visit, substantial noncompliance with the permanency plan, and failure to manifest the ability and willingness to assume custody of the children. On appeal, we conclude that there is clear and convincing evidence to support all three grounds as well as the trial court’s best interest determination. We, therefore, affirm the trial court’s decision.

Cocke County Court of Appeals 07/15/19
Northgate Limited Liability Company et al. v. Randall Amacher et al.
M2018-01407-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma D. McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge L. Craig Johnson

This appeal involves multiple claims asserted against multiple parties. From our review of the record, the orders appealed do not resolve all of the claims asserted in the complaint. As a result, the judgment of the trial court is not final, and this Court lacks jurisdiction to consider the appeal. The appeal is hereby dismissed.

Coffee County Court of Appeals 07/11/19
Neeld J. Messler II v. Janette Roberts Brumlow
E2018-00563-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge John B. Bennett

This is an appeal challenging a jury verdict in an unlawful detainer action, in which both parties had raised additional counterclaims against one another, including breach of contract, fraud, and a violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the appellee. However, neither the jury’s verdict nor the trial court’s judgment on the verdict, addressed all of the parties’ claims. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 07/10/19
Christopher Conrad Fichtel v. Jill Crowell Fichtel (Zirwas)
M2018-01634-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Philip E. Smith

This appeal results from Father’s petition in opposition to relocation. Trial on the petition was held over a period of more than a year. Ultimately, the trial court granted Father’s petition in opposition and modified the parties’ child support obligation to take into account their changed incomes. We vacate the trial court’s determination of Father’s income for child support purposes, but affirm the trial court’s rulings in all other respects.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 07/10/19