Rashell Holt, Et Al. v. John Robert Whedbee, Et Al.

Rashell Holt, Et Al. v. John Robert Whedbee, Et Al.
E2018-01244-COA-R3-CV

This appeal concerns an alleged breach of contract. Patsy Yearwood (“Decedent”), an insurance agent with John Robert Whedbee and James L. Whedbee at the Whedbee Insurance Agency (“Defendants”), entered into an agreement (“the Agreement”) with Defendants whereby Defendants would buy all of Decedent’s contracts of insurance and expirations and renewals. For a set period of time, Decedent would receive 50% of her commissions and renewals and Defendants were to receive the other 50%. Decedent, in declining health, was to assist in retaining and producing business. Upon Decedent’s death, her commissions were to go to her estate. Decedent died and three months later, Defendants halted payments. Decedent’s daughter RaShell Holt, individually and as Executrix of the Estate of Patsy Yearwood (“Plaintiff”), sued Defendants in the Chancery Court for Knox County (“the Trial Court”). Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, which the Trial Court granted on the basis that Decedent first breached the Agreement by not working in the period leading up to her death. Plaintiff appealed. We find and hold that there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Decedent breached the Agreement by ceasing to work. We hold further that, even if Decedent stopped working, this in itself was not a breach of contract because her sickness and death were anticipated in the Agreement. We hold further still that, even if Decedent breached the Agreement, Defendants were not entitled to continue receiving all the benefits of the Agreement while denying the estate its benefits. We reverse the judgment of the Trial Court.

Authoring Judge: 
Judge D. Michael Swiney, C.J.
Originating Judge: 
Judge Clarence E. Pridemore, Jr.
Date Filed: 
Friday, April 12, 2019