Albert Randall Worrell v. Obion County School District
W2023-01082-SC-WCM-WC
Authoring Judge: Justice Sarah K. Campbell
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amber E. Lutrell

Albert Randall Worrell injured his shoulder in the course and scope of his employment with Obion County School District. Mr. Worrell and Obion County entered into a settlement agreement. Among other things, the agreement required Obion County to pay for future medical expenses related to his work injury. Almost three years after his initial injury, Mr. Worrell’s doctors recommended that he undergo shoulder replacement surgery. The Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims concluded that Obion County was not required to pay for the shoulder replacement surgery because Mr. Worrell did not prove that the recommended surgery was causally related to his work injury. The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board affirmed. In his appeal to this Panel, Mr. Worrell presses federal and state constitutional challenges to two provisions of Tennessee’s workers’ compensation law—Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-116 (2014), which instructs courts to construe the workers’ compensation law fairly and impartially, and Tennessee Code Annotated section 50-6-102(14) (Supp. 2016), which defines the term “injury.” Mr. Worrell argues that both provisions violate the substantive due process protections of the United States and Tennessee Constitutions and the Open Courts Clause of the Tennessee Constitution. He further argues that the definition of “injury” violates the equal protection guarantees of the federal and state constitutions. We hold that the challenged statutory provisions are constitutional and affirm the judgment of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.

Workers Compensation Panel

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

Colleen Ann Hyder v. Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee
M2022-01703-SC-R3-BP
Authoring Judge: Justice Dwight E. Tarwater
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Thomas J. Wright

In this case, we review a trial court’s determination that a Montgomery County attorney violated Rule 5.5(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct by practicing law while her license was suspended for failure to pay the professional privilege tax and the accompanying sanction of a public censure. Finding no abuse of discretion, we affirm.

Montgomery Supreme Court

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

State of Tennessee v. Isaiah Jamal Simmons
E2023-01259-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Boyd M. Patterson

The Defendant, Isaiah Jamal Simmons, appeals from his guilty-pleaded convictions in the
Hamilton County Criminal Court for one count of attempted second degree murder, a Class
B felony, aggravated stalking, a Class E felony, two counts of assault, a Class A
misdemeanor, and two counts of harassment, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-
13-210 (2018) (second degree murder); 39-12-101 (2018) (criminal attempt); 39-17-315
(2018) (subsequently amended) (aggravated stalking); 39-13-101 (2018) (assault); 39-17-
308 (2018) (harassment). The trial court ordered the Defendant to serve his agreed-upon,
ten-year sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends the trial court abused
its discretion by denying alternative sentencing and by failing to allow the defense to
present argument at sentencing. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hamilton Court of Criminal 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

State of Tennessee v. Dewey Huggins
W2023-01284-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Appellant, Dewey Huggins, was convicted of aggravated domestic assault and sentenced to fourteen years’ imprisonment.  The sole issue presented in this appeal is whether Assistant District Attorney General Falen Chandler should have been disqualified from prosecuting this case based on her prior representation of the Appellant in a separate criminal case in 2014.  After review, we determine that no conflict of interest existed and affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Fayette Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Sedrick Darnell Cummings
M2023-01345-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge William A. Lockhart

The Defendant, Sedrick Darnell Cummings, appeals as of right from his misdemeanor domestic assault conviction, for which he received a sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days probation after service of ten days in jail. The Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction and that the trial court erred in admitting alleged prior bad acts. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Coffee Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Brandon L. Holliday
W2023-01097-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph T. Howell

A Madison County jury convicted the Appellant, Brandon L. Holliday, on multiple counts for evading arrest in a vehicle with risk of death or injury to innocent bystanders, disobeying a traffic signal, violating financial responsibility law, reckless driving, violation of duty upon striking a fixture upon a highway, and driving with a revoked license, for which he received an effective sentence of twelve years’ confinement. On appeal, the Appellant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction of evading arrest because it did not establish that bystanders were at risk of death or injury during his flight. Upon review, we affirm. 

Madison Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Buford Dudley Creighton
M2023-01295-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Defendant, Buford Dudley Creighton, claims that the evidence presented at his bench trial was insufficient to support his conviction for identity theft. We determine that the proof was sufficient to show that Defendant used the personal identifying information of another with the intent to avoid criminal prosecution and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson Court of Criminal 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

State of Tennessee v. Travis Ruzicka
W2023-00134-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Kyle A. Hixson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Travis Ruzicka, of rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery. He appeals, contending that (1) the forensic interview did not meet the admissibility requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated section 24-7-123; (2) the trial court erred by admitting the forensic interview of the victim after the victim had testified, thus depriving the Defendant of the opportunity to contemporaneously cross-examine the victim as to the contents of the interview recording; and (3) the victim was incompetent to testify at trial and thus unavailable for cross-examination. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby Court of Criminal Appeals

Robert Brooks v. State of Tennessee
W2023-01492-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Petitioner, Robert Brooks, acting pro se, appeals the denial of his petition seeking relief from his convictions of reckless endangerment, aggravated robbery, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count of assault, for which he received an effective sentence of ten years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days confinement. State v. Brooks, No. W2020-01026-CCA-R3-CD, 2021 WL 4936969, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 22, 2021), no perm. app. filed. As we understand the issues raised in the Petitioner’s pro se brief, he contends (1) trial counsel was ineffective based on certain statements made during closing argument conceding the Petitioner’s guilt; (2) trial counsel’s failure to exclude an affidavit of complaint which contained alleged perjury; and (3) the trial court lacked jurisdiction to prosecute his case because the affidavit of complaint lacked probable cause.1 Upon our review, we affirm.

Shelby Court of Criminal Appeals

Hector William Zarate Capriel v. State of Tennessee
E2023-00892-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alex E. Pearson

The petitioner, Hector William Zarate Capriel, appeals the denial of his petition for postconviction
relief, which petition challenged his guilty-pleaded conviction of misdemeanor
child abuse, alleging that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning
no error, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Hamblen Court of Criminal 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