Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 04/12/2021
Format: 04/12/2021
Cora M. Haywood v. Trexis Insurance Corporation, et al.
W2020-00418-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Yolanda R. Kight

Following an automobile accident involving Appellant and Appellee, Appellant filed a civil warrant against Appellee’s automobile insurance carrier in the general sessions court. Later, after the statute of limitations had run, Appellant filed an amended civil warrant adding Appellee as a defendant. Together, Appellee and the insurance carrier filed a joint motion to dismiss, alleging that: (1) the statute of limitations barred Appellant’s claims against Appellee; and (2) the automobile insurance carrier was not a proper party to the lawsuit. The general sessions court granted the motion to dismiss. Thereafter, Appellant appealed the dismissal but did not file a new complaint in the trial court. Appellee and his insurance carrier moved to dismiss, and the trial court granted the motion. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 04/12/21
Romey Green, III v. Kasandra Cherry Green
W2019-01416-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Martha B. Brasfield

In this divorce case, Wife takes issue with how the trial court distributed the possessory interest in the marital home and Husband’s Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (“TCRS”) benefits. Because the trial court did not assign values to all of the relevant property subject to division, we vacate the judgment and remand the case to the trial court for additional findings.

Tipton County Court of Appeals 04/12/21
Watauga Falls Development v. Rivers End Subdivision P.O.A. et al.
E2021-00269-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi Davis
Trial Court Judge:

The appellee, Watauga Falls Development (“Watauga”), filed a motion to dismiss this appeal alleging that the dismissal of a prior appeal of this case bars the instant appeal. Because the previous appeal was taken from the same judgment as the instant appeal and the dismissal of the previous appeal was with prejudice, this appeal must be dismissed.

Johnson County Court of Appeals 04/08/21
Erin R. Knight v. Tennessee State Board Of Education
M2020-00770-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins

A public school teacher, who allegedly tested positive for alcohol on school premises during school hours, was threatened with revocation of her teaching license by the state board of education. The teacher petitioned the board for declaratory judgment, arguing that the board lacked the authority to promulgate the rule on which the threatened action was based. After a hearing, the administrative law judge concluded that the board did have the power to revoke a teacher’s license for misconduct, and the board subsequently adopted the administrative law judge’s order. The teacher then appealed to the chancery court, as permitted under the UAPA, and the chancery court affirmed the board’s findings. The teacher now appeals the chancery court’s order. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/08/21
Anthony D. Herron, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00595-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Commissioner James A. Hamilton, III

This case involves a breach of contract claim brought against the Tennessee Department of Human Services pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 9-8-307(a)(1)(L). The defendant moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, claiming the parties never entered into a written agreement. The Tennessee Claims Commission granted the motion and dismissed the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. We affirm the Commission’s decision and remand.

Court of Appeals 04/07/21
A.W. v. M.N.
W2020-00091-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rachel J. Jackson

This case involves a petition to modify a father’s parenting time. The mother filed the petition against the father, alleging that the father sexually abused their minor child during an unsupervised visitation. After a two-day hearing, the trial court denied the mother’s petition, finding that there was insufficient evidence to show that the father sexually abused the minor child. The mother appealed. We affirm the trial court’s decision and remand.

Tipton County Court of Appeals 04/07/21
Ernest B. Williams IV, PLLC Et Al. v. The Association Of Unit Owners Of The Five Hundred And One Union Building Et Al.
M2019-02114-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies

This case concerns the termination of a condominium building. At the center of the dispute on appeal is a disagreement over whether the ordered distribution of the proceeds from the sale of the condominium real estate was proper. The Appellant, who was a unit owner in the condominium, takes specific issue with the trial court’s use of a certain appraisal as the basis for a distribution of sale proceeds. The trial court ruled against the Appellant on this issue, holding that the subject appraisal became final because it had not been timely disapproved by unit owners representing at least 25% of the votes in the unit owners’ association as provided in Tennessee Code Annotated section 66-27-318 of the Tennessee Condominium Act of 2008. In holding that the proposed allocation from the appraisal should be used, the trial court also ordered that the Appellant pay certain attorney’s fees and discretionary costs. A request for prejudgment interest against the Appellant, however, was ultimately denied. On appeal, we affirm the trial court’s judgment in all respects.   

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/07/21
Alice Faye Powers v. Stephen Edwin Powers
M2019-01512-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Suzanne Lockert-Mash

This is an appeal from a contested divorce involving one minor child. The father appeals the trial court’s decision to name the mother as the primary residential parent and its decision to grant the father less than equal parenting time. For the reasons stated herein, we affirm the trial court’s decisions and remand.

Humphreys County Court of Appeals 04/07/21
In Re Greyson D. Et Al.
E2020-00988-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: J. Steven Stafford, P.J., W.S.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Terry Stevens

A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights on the grounds of severe abuse and failure to manifest a willingness and ability to assume custody and on the determination that termination is in the best interests of her children. Upon our review, we discern no error and affirm the termination.

Roane County Court of Appeals 04/07/21
In Re Estate of Hattie Faye Baker
W2020-00460-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Don R. Ash

The petitioner claims an interest in the estate of the second wife of her uncle, who was originally married to the petitioner’s aunt. Because the property at issue was held by the petitioner’s aunt and uncle as a tenancy by the entireties, the uncle owned the property in fee simple upon the aunt’s death. We conclude that the petitioner’s claim is without merit, and we affirm the decision of the trial court.

McNairy County Court of Appeals 04/06/21
Brenda Naldrett Johnson v. Gary Lee Johnson
E2020-00875-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge John C. Rambo

This case involves an intra-family dispute over a parcel of real property. Because of the profound deficiencies with Appellant’s brief, we decline to reach the merits of this appeal and instead find that Appellant has waived his argument. Thus, we affirm the judgment of the trial court and award Appellee damages, including attorney’s fees incurred on appeal, pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 27-1-122.

Johnson County Court of Appeals 04/06/21
In Re Estate of Juanne Jennings Thompson
E2019-01365-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clarence E. Pridemore, Jr.

This consolidated appeal arises from a dispute among various children and grandchildren of B. Ray Thompson, Jr. (“B. Ray Jr.”) and Juanne Jennings Thompson (“Juanne” or together, “Decedents”),1 over the estates of both B. Ray Jr. and Juanne. When three of the Decedents’ children obtained a court order sealing the records for both estates, a different faction of the family filed petitions to intervene in the estate actions and to unseal the records. The Chancery Court for Knox County (the “trial court”) denied the petitions for intervention and left several documents under seal. This appeal followed. We hold that the trial court abused its discretion. The judgment of the trial court is reversed, and the case remanded for further proceedings.

Knox County Court of Appeals 04/06/21
In Re Estate Of B. Ray Thompson, Jr.
E2019-01364-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clarence E. Pridemore, Jr.

This consolidated appeal arises from a dispute among various children and grandchildren of B. Ray Thompson, Jr. (“B. Ray Jr.”) and Juanne Jennings Thompson (“Juanne” or together, “Decedents”),1 over the estates of both B. Ray Jr. and Juanne. When three of the Decedents’ children obtained a court order sealing the records for both estates, a different faction of the family filed petitions to intervene in the estate actions and to unseal the records. The Chancery Court for Knox County (the “trial court”) denied the petitions for intervention and left several documents under seal. This appeal followed. We hold that the trial court abused its discretion. The judgment of the trial court is reversed, and the case remanded for further proceedings.

Knox County Court of Appeals 04/06/21
John L. Smith, Jr. v. Giovanni Gonzalez, et al.
W2019-02028-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Russell

This appeal involves a challenge to the trial court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s complaint. Specifically, Plaintiff contends that the trial court erred in finding that his complaint was deficient per the signature requirements in Rule 11.01(a) of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons stated herein, we reverse the trial court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s complaint and conclude it is in compliance with the requirements of Rule 11.01.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 04/01/21
Dennis Harold Ultsch v. HTI Memorial Hospital Corporation
M2020-00341-COA-R9-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph P. Binkley, Jr.

This appeal concerns the interplay between the Tennessee Health Care Liability Act (“HCLA”) and the common law on vicarious liability with respect to pre-suit notice in a health care liability claim against the principal only.  We have determined that the provisions of the HCLA take precedence over the common law and that the plaintiff’s claims in this case were timely filed.  Therefore, we reverse the decision of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/01/21
In Re Estate of Dorothy Jean McMillan
E2020-00413-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Clarence E. Pridemore, Jr.

On behalf of the estate of his mother, one son, as substitute personal representative, filed suit against his brother, the previous personal representative, seeking return of funds alleged to be missing from the decedent’s accounts. Upon summary judgment, the trial court found in favor of the defendant, the initial administrator of the estate. We reverse and remand for trial.

Knox County Court of Appeals 04/01/21
Beverly Gardner v. Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital
M2019-02237-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph P. Binkley

A patient filed a health care liability claim against a hospital, asserting the hospital was vicariously liable for injuries she suffered as a result of the anesthesia providers’ conduct.  The hospital moved for summary judgment, arguing that the anesthesia providers were not employed by the hospital and the hospital was, therefore, not liable for the anesthetists’ actions as a matter of law because the statute of limitations had run on the plaintiff’s direct claims against the anesthesia providers by the time the plaintiff filed her complaint against the hospital.  The trial court granted the hospital’s motion and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint, relying on the common law set forth in Abshure v. Methodist Healthcare-Memphis Hospitals, 325 S.W.3d 98 (Tenn. 2010).  Acknowledging the conflict between provisions of the Tennessee Health Care Liability Act and the common law, we hold that the statute prevails.  Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand the case for further proceedings.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/01/21
In Re Adaleigh M. Et Al.
E2019-01955-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Lane Wolfenbarger

A mother and father appeal the termination of their parental rights to their two children. The juvenile court concluded that there was clear and convincing evidence of multiple statutory grounds for termination. The court also concluded that there was clear and convincing evidence that termination of their parent's parental rights was in each child's best interest.

Grainger County Court of Appeals 03/31/21
Lesley Murrell, et al. v. Board of Administration City of Memphis Pension and Retirement System, et al.
W2020-00187-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor JoeDae L. Jenkins

Police officers filed a petition for writ of certiorari seeking judicial review of a municipal board’s decision to approve a monthly amount of pension benefits for each officer. The petitioners alleged that the municipal board erred in calculating their benefits and in failing to provide them with a hearing in compliance with the contested case procedures in the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act. Upon the city’s motion, the trial court dismissed the petition as improperly filed and remanded the matter to the municipal board for a written determination after a hearing. Because the trial court erred in dismissing the petition, we vacate that portion of the judgment. In all other respects, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/31/21
Cumberland Advisory Group, LLC v. Martha Arnita Lee Et Al.
M2019-02072-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Anne C. Martin

This appeal arises from a boundary dispute in a residential neighborhood in Nashville. After a bench trial, the court determined the boundary between the plaintiff’s and the defendants’ properties was depicted on a survey prepared by the plaintiff’s surveyor. The dispositive issue on appeal is whether the trial court erred in determining the location of the boundary. Having concluded that the evidence preponderates in favor of the trial court’s decision, we affirm. Additionally, we have determined that the plaintiff is entitled to recover the reasonable and necessary expenses and attorney’s fees incurred as the result of a frivolous appeal in accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. § 27-1-122. Therefore, we remand for the trial court to make the appropriate award.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 03/31/21
Alvin Mack, et al. v. Baptist Memorial Hospital, et al.
W2020-00809-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Valerie L. Smith

This appeal arises from a health care liability action. Darryl G. Rush-Mack (“Decedent”) died while receiving care at Baptist Memorial Hospital (“the Hospital”). Alvin Mack (“Mr. Mack”), Kevin Mack, and Darwisha Mack Williams (“Plaintiffs,” collectively) sued the Hospital and Dr. Aaron Kuperman (“Dr. Kuperman”) (“Defendants,” collectively) in the Circuit Court for Shelby County (“the Trial Court”). Defendants filed motions to dismiss, which the Trial Court granted. Thirty days from entry of the order passed without Plaintiffs filing a notice of appeal. Plaintiffs later filed a motion to set aside pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60.02 asserting that the order was not stamped to be mailed until six days after it was filed and it went to a PO Box Plaintiffs’ counsel does not use for business. The Trial Court granted the motion and entered a new order of dismissal, from which Mr. Mack appeals. We find that Mr. Mack failed to meet the clear and convincing evidentiary burden necessary for Rule 60.02 relief; indeed, the Trial Court relied only upon statements of counsel rather than evidence. We, therefore, reverse the Trial Court’s grant of Plaintiffs’ Rule 60.02 motion.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 03/30/21
Allen C. Bond v. Tennessee Department of Correction
M2019-02299-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Anne C. Martin

This appeal arises from a declaratory judgment action filed by an inmate, Allen C. Bond (“Petitioner”), against the Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”), concerning the calculation of Petitioner’s sentence and whether he had been awarded the correct number of pretrial credits.  The Trial Court dismissed Petitioner’s complaint for declaratory judgment upon its finding that TDOC had calculated Petitioner’s sentence in compliance with the criminal court’s most recent judgment.  Discerning no error, we affirm. 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 03/30/21
Samuel L. Davis v. Sovereign Investments, LLC
M2019-01949-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle

The plaintiff appeals the summary dismissal of his petition to quiet title based on res judicata and waiver. This is the fourth action between the parties, or their privies, involving real property the plaintiff lost in a nonjudicial foreclosure sale in 2012. The first three actions were decided on the merits adversely to the plaintiff. Following the dismissal of the third action regarding the same real property, the parties entered into a settlement agreement wherein the plaintiff consented to the sale of the property to the defendant and waived all claims that had been or could have been asserted in relation to the real property. Thereafter, the plaintiff commenced this action to quiet title to the same real property. Upon the motion of the defendant that had purchased the property, the trial court summarily dismissed the action. This appeal followed. We affirm the trial court in all respects.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 03/30/21
The Northshore Corridor Association Et Al. v. Knox County, Tennessee, Et Al.
E2020-00573-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis

Upon a petition for common law certiorari filed by a community organization comprised of several homeowners’ associations and individual homeowners, the trial court reversed a decision by the Knox County Board of Zoning Appeals (“BZA”) affirming the Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission’s approval of the respondent developer’s neighborhood development plan. The trial court determined the BZA’s decision to be illegal upon finding that the development plan included an on-site wastewater treatment plant in violation of the applicable zoning ordinance. The trial court subsequently denied cross-motions to alter or amend the judgment. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 03/30/21
Kristy Billingsley v. Rhonda Gallman
E2020-00794-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kristi Davis

A woman against whom the trial court granted an order of protection appeals the order of protection. The trial court granted the order based upon its finding that the woman, a former girlfriend of the petitioner’s husband, threatened the petitioner and her husband with physical violence through a series of videos. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 03/29/21