COURT OF APPEALS OPINIONS

Henry's Florist, Inc. v. Heather R. Knott
M2023-00650-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amanda J. McClendon

This case involves a disputed easement. Appellee filed a complaint for declaratory judgment asking the trial court to conclude that an easement existed in its favor. Appellant filed a counter complaint requesting a declaratory judgment that no easement existed and requesting an injunction prohibiting Appellee from using the disputed easement. On Appellee’s motion for summary judgment, the trial court concluded that an easement existed in favor of Appellee, and it denied the relief Appellant sought. Thereafter, the trial court granted Appellee’s motion to dismiss Appellant’s counter complaint. We agree that an easement exists, and we affirm the trial court’s order granting the motion for summary judgment. Because the summary judgment order granted relief in Appellee’s favor, Appellant’s request for relief in the counter complaint was denied on the merits, rendering the counter complaint moot. As such, we vacate the trial court’s order on the motion to dismiss.

Rutherford Court of Appeals

Estate of Susan Ballard ET AL. v. State Farm Fire and Casualty CO.
W2022-01702-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge A. Blake Neill

This appeal concerns a breach of contract claim filed by an insured in relation to a homeowner’s insurance policy. The insurer filed a motion for summary judgment which the trial court initially denied, having determined that there were issues of material fact in dispute. Upon the filing of a renewed motion for summary judgment accompanied by two affidavits from an employee of the insurer that offered interpretations of the evidence in dispute, the trial court granted the insurer’s motion, determining that the affidavits resolved the factual disputes. Because we conclude that there are disputed issues of material fact such that summary judgment should not have been granted, we reverse the trial court’s judgment.

Tipton Court of Appeals

Mazahir Hamadani v. Meshreky Meshreky
M2023-01161-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey Usman
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clifton David Briley

A landlord obtained a judgment from a General Sessions Court against his tenant for back rent and other damages. The tenant appealed, and the Circuit Court reduced the damages award. The landlord appeals to this court. The landlord, who is pro se, disregards the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure in his filings. His filings render his argument indiscernible. The landlord also failed to provide a record that fully and accurately depicts the underlying proceedings. Because the landlord’s deviations from the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure prevent this court from providing meaningful appellate review, we dismiss his appeal.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Nashville Church of Christ, Inc., as successor-in-interest to Central Church of Christ v. Amy Grant Gill and Andrew M. Burton, as co-administrators of the Estate of A.M. Burton, et al.
M2022-00823-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Anne C. Martin

This appeal involves a complaint to quiet title and for declaratory and injunctive relief filed by a church. The church had purchased property in 1925 pursuant to a deed providing that if the property ceased to be used for the purposes and objects described in the deed, it would “revert” to the estate of an individual who was then serving as a trustee of the church. In 2019, an attorney informed the church that he represented several individuals who were heirs of said trustee and were concerned that the property was not being used in a manner consistent with the deed. Thus, the church filed the instant complaint and sought a declaration that the restriction in the deed was no longer valid and enforceable, or in the alternative, it had not violated the restriction by utilizing the property in a manner inconsistent with the deed. The parties filed cross motions for partial summary judgment on the issues surrounding the validity of the deed restriction. The trial court granted partial summary judgment to the defendants, concluding that the restriction remained enforceable. Thus, the trial court noted that the remaining issue to be decided was whether the church had adhered to the applicable restriction. The church filed a motion asking the trial court to either certify its partial summary judgment order as final pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 54.02 or grant it permission to seek an interlocutory appeal pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 9. Before this motion was heard, however, an agreed order was entered certifying the trial court’s partial summary judgment order as final pursuant to Rule 54.02. The church appealed. We conclude that the trial court improvidently certified its order as final and dismiss the appeal.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Gary Viles Motors, LLC v. Shawna M. Chance
E2023-01319-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Richard B. Armstrong

This is an appeal from a jury verdict wherein the jury found that the defendant had met the burden to prove her
counterclaims for breach of contract or conversion and a violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act.
Following the jury’s verdict, the trial court entered an order relative to the remaining motions; however, the order
failed to dispose of two of the defendant’s counterclaims that had not been presented to the jury. Because these
two claims remain outstanding, there is no final judgment entered by the trial court, and this Court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction to consider this appeal. Accordingly, we dismiss this appeal and remand the case to the trial
court for further action.

Knox Court of Appeals

Alyssia Arnold et al. v. Jay Witt
M2023-00803-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Wyatt Burk

This appeal arises out of a petition filed by Alyssia Arnold and Donavan Levenhagen (collectively, “Appellants”) seeking visitation with three minor children, Appellants’ half-siblings. The respondent moved to dismiss Appellants’ petition for visitation due to a lack of standing. The Lincoln County Juvenile Court (“juvenile court”) granted the motion to dismiss. Appellants appealed to the Lincoln County Circuit Court (“circuit court”), which also granted a motion to dismiss. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Lincoln Court of Appeals

In Re Bentley R.
W2023-01665-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Steven W. Maroney

The Chancery Court for Madison County (“the Trial Court”) terminated the parental rights of River M. (“Mother”) to her son, Bentley R. (“the Child”). Mother appeals, challenging the Trial Court’s finding that termination of Mother’s parental rights was in the Child’s best interest. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Madison Court of Appeals

Linda R. Kerley v. George Olin Kerley
E2022-01206-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

This is an appeal from a final decree of divorce in which the trial court determined that the assets accumulated
by the parties during their fifty-eight-year marriage were all marital property and were worth approximately
$2,000,000.00 in total. Following a hearing wherein the parties testified regarding the values of the individual
assets, the trial court entered a final decree of divorce, assigning values and dividing the marital assets into two
tables, awarding approximately forty-seven percent of the assets to the wife and approximately fifty-three
percent of the assets to the husband. The trial court also awarded to the wife “transitional alimony” of
$1,000.00 per month for five years as well as her reasonable attorney’s fees. The husband has appealed from
the final decree, arguing that (1) the trial court erred in the distribution of assets because it did not make
sufficient findings in the record or allocate proper weight to the factors set forth in Tennessee Code Annotated
§ 36-4-121(c) and (2) the trial court erred in granting temporary alimony to the wife based upon her financial
need. In her reply brief, the wife seeks an award of attorney’s fees on appeal. Based on our review, we
determine that the final decree contains insufficient findings of fact regarding the distribution of marital assets
and the award of alimony because the trial court failed to delineate its analysis of the required statutory factors
as to either award. Accordingly, we vacate those portions of the trial court’s final decree and remand for further findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Bledsoe Court of Appeals

Moye Jones et al. v. Cathleen M. Craddock
M2023-01034-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe Thompson

This auto accident case involves an insurer’s claim that its limit of liability for uninsured motorist coverage should be offset due to the availability of payable workers’ compensation benefits. The trial court granted summary judgment to the insurer. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

Sumner Court of Appeals

Brittney C. Shedd v. Tennessee Board of Nursing
M2024-01018-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: PER CURIAM
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bonita J. Atwood

This is an appeal from an order dismissing a complaint for judicial review. Because the appellant did not file her notice of appeal with the clerk of the appellate court within thirty days after entry of the order as required by Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a), we dismiss the appeal.

Rutherford Court of Appeals

In Re Ezra C.
M2023-00927-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ronald Thurman

This action involves the termination of a father’s parental rights to his minor child. Following a bench trial, the court found that clear and convincing evidence existed to establish the statutory ground of termination of abandonment by failure to visit. The court also found that termination was in the best interest of the child. We affirm the trial court’s termination decision.

Putnam Court of Appeals

Niel Prosser, et al. v. Memphis and Shelby County Board of Adjustment, et al.
W2023-01057-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor JoeDae L. Jenkins

This case involves questions of zoning of non-residential real property located in a residential zoning district in Memphis. The genesis of the present dispute is specifically traceable to the Memphis and Shelby County Division of Planning and Development’s issuance of a zoning letter, wherein it was stated that use of the property at issue in this matter as a “Philanthropic Institution with Offices and Clinic” is a use permitted in accordance with a prior 2017 variance from zoning. The appellants herein, who own a home near the subject property, took umbrage with the zoning letter and appealed to the Memphis and Shelby County Board of Adjustment. When the Board of Adjustment rejected the appeal, thereby upholding the zoning letter, the appellants filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in Chancery Court. The Chancery Court ultimately upheld the action of the Board of Adjustment, following which the present appeal ensued. For the reasons stated herein, we reverse the Chancery Court’s decision to affirm the decision of the Board of Adjustment and remand for the entry of an order reversing the decision of the Board of Adjustment.

Shelby Court of Appeals

Tina Marie Eltzroth v. Danny Ray Eltzroth
E2023-00484-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex Henry Ogle

This appeal concerns setting aside a default judgment in a divorce case. Tina Marie Eltzroth (“Wife”) filed for divorce in the Circuit Court for Sevier County (“the Trial Court”) against Danny Ray Eltzroth (“Husband”). Husband was served but failed to timely answer. Wife filed a motion for default and notice of hearing. Husband, who was staying at multiple places during this time, failed to appear for the hearing. The Trial Court granted Wife a default judgment. Husband later filed a motion to set aside, which the Trial Court granted. Wife appeals. We find no abuse of discretion in the Trial Court’s granting of Husband’s motion to set aside the default judgment. We affirm.

Sevier Court of Appeals

Rodney DeWayne Barrentine v. Jimmy J. Kinsler
E2023-01274-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Douglas T. Jenkins

This is an appeal from a bench trial wherein the trial court found that the defendant had
materially breached a contract for the sale of real property by failing to complete the sale. The trial court further found that although the plaintiff had also breached the contract by failing to provide sufficient proof of funds within the contractual time frame, such breach was not material and the defendant was still obligated to perform his contractual duties. The trial court entered an order directing the defendant’s specific performance of the contract and awarding to the plaintiff reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, as provided for in the parties’ contract. The defendant has appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm the trial court’s judgment. Pursuant to the parties’ contract, we grant the plaintiff’s request for reasonable attorney’s fees on appeal. We remand the case to the trial court for enforcement of the contract and for a determination of the plaintiff’s reasonable attorney’s fees and costs incurred on appeal.

Hancock Court of Appeals

Benjamin L. Folkins Et Al. v. Healthcare Group (Hong Kong) Co. Limited Et Al.
E2023-00759-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle E. Hedrick

Defendants appeal from a trial court judgment finding the defendants in civil contempt of a bond order securing a judgment against those defendants and others. Because the underlying judgment on which the contempt finding is based has since been vacated by this Court, the contempt finding is also vacated.

Hamilton Court of Appeals

State of Tennessee, ex rel., Alicia Janelle Collins v. Vikramjeet Sethi Singh
W2022-00239-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey Usman
Trial Court Judge: Judge Harold W. Horne

The State of Tennessee, on behalf of Mother, sought child support for a minor child. The trial court, finding that there was no reliable evidence of Father’s income, imputed the statutory median gross income. Father appeals, asserting that the trial court erred in setting child support above his stated income and in finding that the evidence of his income was unreliable. Father also asserts that the court’s oral finding that he was willfully underemployed was procedurally deficient. We conclude that the trial court erred in imputing the statutory amount, vacate the award of child support, and remand for further proceedings.

Shelby Court of Appeals

Leiby Goldberger Et Al. v. Thomas J. Scott Et Al.
M2022-01772-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Anne C. Martin

This is an appeal from the denial of a petition to dismiss under the Tennessee Public Participation Act (“TPPA”), Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 20-17-101 to -110. The defendantpetitioner asserted that this action was filed by the plaintiffs in response to his “exercise of the right of free speech,” which the TPPA defines as “communication made in connection with a matter of public concern.” Specifically, the defendant-petitioner asserted that he was exercising his right of free speech regarding a matter of public concern when he made public the plaintiffs’ failure to disclose their involvement in prior franchise litigation and regulatory actions as required by franchising laws. The trial court denied the petition, finding that the TPPA did not apply because the claims did not involve issues or matters of public concern and free speech as referenced in the TPPA. This appeal followed. We respectfully disagree with this finding. We conclude that the defendant-petitioner presented prima facie evidence that the plaintiffs commenced this action in response to the defendantpetitioner’s exercise of free speech on a matter of public concern related to goods, products, or services in the marketplace. Specifically, the defendant-petitioner’s public dissemination of information via a website alleging that the plaintiffs were continuing to market franchises while withholding material information required to be disclosed by the Federal Trade Commission Franchise Rule. See 16 C.F.R. pt. 436. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for further proceedings.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Susan B. Ferkin v. Katherine Bell
W2023-00514-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Damita J. Dandridge

This case involves a petition for judicial review filed pursuant to the Tennessee Public Records Act, Tenn. Code Ann. § 10-7-503, et seq., after the petitioner requested audio recordings of a third-party’s post-conviction hearings from a court reporter.  The circuit court dismissed the petition.  The petitioner appeals.  For the following reasons, the appeal is hereby dismissed.

Shelby Court of Appeals

In Re Leah T.
M2023-01338-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Mark Rogers

In the second appeal in this case, Mother appeals the trial court’s determination that termination of her parental rights is in her child’s best interest. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Rutherford Court of Appeals

In Re Quentin G.
E2023-01632-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amanda Magan Worley

This appeal arises from a petition to terminate parental rights. The trial court found by clear and convincing evidence that one ground for termination existed as to the father based on a prior adjudication of severe child abuse and that termination was in the best interest of the child. The father appeals. We affirm the trial court’s decision and remand.

Court of Appeals

Richard H. Niehaus Et Al. v. Darnell Wade Houfek Et Al.
M2023-00992-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge David D. Wolfe

This appeal, arising from a land dispute, concerns the trial court’s dismissal of several
claims against multiple parties pursuant to motions to dismiss filed under Rule 12.02(6) of
the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. Although the terms of an “Agreed Final Order”
reflected that the Appellants waived their right to appeal any issue regarding two of the
parties in this case, the same order also signaled that nothing prevented the Appellants from
appealing matters involving two other individual parties. Through the present appeal, the
Appellants challenge the dismissal of their claims against these other individual parties.
Although we largely affirm the trial court’s dismissal order, we reverse in part.
Specifically, we hold that, on account of certain allegations that were pled pertaining to the
cutting of trees on the Appellants’ property, the wholesale dismissal of one of the individual
parties was improper.

Dickson Court of Appeals

Tino C. Sutton v. State of Tennessee
M2024-00760-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies

This is an interlocutory appeal as of right, pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B, from the trial court’s orders denying the petitioner’s two pro se motions to recuse the trial court judge in the underlying restoration of citizenship action. The petitioner based his first motion to recuse in the instant case entirely upon actions and rulings made by the trial court judge in a previous civil case. He based his second motion to recuse on the same actions and rulings plus two additional orders, one entered by the trial court judge while the petitioner’s appeal of the first recusal denial was pending. Discerning no reversible error in the trial court judge’s denial of the motions to recuse, we affirm.

Bedford Court of Appeals

In Re Antonio P. et al.
M2023-01260-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sheila Calloway

The trial court terminated a mother’s parental rights to two of her minor children on the grounds of abandonment by failure to visit, substantial noncompliance with the permanency plans, persistent conditions, and failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume custody or financial responsibility of the children. We affirm the trial court’s ruling on all grounds. We also conclude that terminating the mother’s parental rights is in the children’s best interests and affirm the trial court’s ultimate ruling.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Rimon Abdou v. Wesley Ben Clark Et Al.
M2023-01461-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Brothers

In this legal-malpractice case, the trial court granted Appellees’/Attorneys’ Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 12.02(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Appellant/Client appeals. Discerning no error, we affirm and remand.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Teofila H. Mocny v. Ronald G. Mocny
M2023-00737-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Caleb Bayless

This is an appeal of a divorce case. Although we affirm in part and reverse in part, we also vacate several aspects of the trial court’s judgment for the reasons stated herein and remand for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion.

Lawrence Court of Appeals