Mindy Donovan v. Joshua R. Hastings

Mindy Donovan v. Joshua R. Hastings
M2019-01396-SC-R11-CV

We granted permission to appeal in this case to consider awards of attorney fees and costs after dismissal of a claim pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 20-12-119(c).  The plaintiff homeowner entered into a contract with the defendant contractor.  The homeowner sued the contractor, and the contractor filed a countercomplaint alleging breach of contract.  After his motion to amend was granted, the contractor filed an amended countercomplaint asserting the same breach of contract claim with revised damages.  The trial court later granted the homeowner’s motion to dismiss the countercomplaint for failure to state a claim.  The homeowner then sought attorney fees and costs pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 20-12-119(c).  The trial court granted the motion but excluded fees and costs incurred prior to the date the amended countercomplaint was filed.  After the homeowner appealed the amount of attorney fees awarded, a split panel of the Court of Appeals affirmed.  On appeal, we hold that the trial court and the Court of Appeals erred in holding that the homeowner’s award of attorney fees and costs under Tennessee Code Annotated § 20-12-119(c) was limited to those incurred after the date the amended countercomplaint was filed.  We reverse the Court of Appeals, vacate the trial court’s award, and remand to the trial court for reconsideration of the award of reasonable attorney fees and costs.

Authoring Judge: 
Justice Holly Kirby
Originating Judge: 
Chancellor Patricia Head Moskal
Date Filed: 
Monday, June 27, 2022