Gerald Brown v. Waddell Wright, Et Al.

Gerald Brown v. Waddell Wright, Et Al.
M2018-01743-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a dispute over an unorthodox, two-page contract pursuant to which the plaintiff sold his home to the defendant and continued to reside in the home, in accordance with a lease-back provision, for “up to five years” with rent “not to exceed $950 a month.” The contract also included provisions for “equity participation,” including the option for the plaintiff to buy the property back “at prevailing market value.” The plaintiff filed a complaint asserting, inter alia, claims for violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, quiet title, and breach of contract. The defendant answered and asserted counterclaims, inter alia, for breach of contract and to remove the plaintiff from the property. Following a trial, the trial court dismissed the complaint upon the principal findings that the plaintiff lacked credibility and was the first to materially breach the contract. The trial court also ruled that the defendant owned the property and was entitled to immediate possession but denied the defendant’s claim to recover his attorney’s fees. Both parties appeal. We affirm the dismissal of all of the plaintiff’s claims and the trial court’s determination that the defendant owned the property and was entitled to immediate possession. As for the attorney’s fees, we hold that the defendant was entitled to recover his reasonable attorney’s fees based on Section 6 of the contract which provides that in the event suit is filed to enforce the contract, “the prevailing party shall be entitled to recover all cost of such enforcement including reasonable attorney’s fees as approved by the Court.”

Authoring Judge: 
Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Originating Judge: 
Chancellor Ellen H. Lyle
Date Filed: 
Monday, October 7, 2019