Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 12/10/2016
Format: 12/10/2016
Jeremy David Parvin v. Jackie Ladean Parvin - dissenting in part
E2016-00549-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: L. Marie Williams

I fully concur in the majority's opinion with one exception—I would grant Wife's request for attorney's fees on appeal. I respectfully dissent on this one issue.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 12/09/16
Jeremy David Parvin v. Jackie LaDean Newman
E2016-00549-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge L. Marie William

In this post-divorce action, the husband filed a complaint alleging abuse of process on the part of the wife during the divorce proceedings. He asserted that prior to the parties' stipulation to grounds for divorce and presentation of a settlement agreement, subsequently adopted by the trial court in a final divorce judgment, the wife had filed a motion for contempt against him with the intent to harass him, cause him to incur unnecessary expense, and “weaken his resolve” to litigate for more favorable terms. The wife filed a motion to dismiss this action, which the trial court treated as a motion for summary judgment because the wife had requested that the court consider the record of the divorce proceedings. Following a hearing, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the wife upon finding, inter alia, that the husband's complaint was barred by the doctrine of res judicata. Upon the wife's subsequent motion, the trial court imposed a sanction against the husband's counsel, pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 11.02, in the amount of $9,745.25, comprising the wife's reasonable attorney's fees and expenses incurred in defending against this action. The husband appeals. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm. We deny the wife's request for attorney's fees on appeal.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 12/09/16
In Re: La'Trianna W.
E2016-01322-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy E. Irwin

This appeal involves the termination of a father's parental rights to his minor child. Following a bench trial, the trial court found that clear and convincing evidence existed to support the termination of his rights on the statutory ground of mental incompetence. The court further found that termination was in the best interest of the child. The father appeals. We affirm.

Knox County Court of Appeals 12/09/16
Valerie Miller v. Jackson-Madison County General Hospital District, et al.
W2016-01170-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

This is a case, brought pursuant to the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act, involving a plaintiff who was injured when she slipped and fell in a municipal hospital owned and operated by the defendant. The plaintiff alleged that she suffered injuries after slipping in water that was on the hospital's floor. Following a bench trial, the trial court found that the defendant had no actual or constructive notice of the water and entered judgment in its favor. The plaintiff appealed. We affirm.

Madison County Court of Appeals 12/08/16
Mark W. Lovett v. Frank Lynch, et al.
M2016-00680-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

Appellant, the first, but not the highest nor successful bidder on a piece of real property in a delinquent tax property sale, filed a quo warranto action alleging that the tax sale was conducted illegally. The trial court dismissed appellant’s suit for lack of standing because the property at issue had been redeemed by an individual with a mortgage on the property. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Franklin County Court of Appeals 12/08/16
Samuel Chandler v. Cynthia Perkins Frazier a/k/a Cynthia Edwards
W2016-00960-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Walter L. Evans

Appellant appeals the trial court’s dismissal of his complaint to quiet title. Appellant claimed that Appellee’s title was procured by fraud. The trial court denied relief. Because the trial court’s order does not contain sufficient findings and conclusions of law
as required by Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 52.01, we vacate the order and remand.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/07/16
Kathy Hudson v. William T. Hudson
W2015-01519-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Van McMahan

This is the second appeal of this case. In the first appeal, the Husband appealed the trial court’s valuation of the marital assets and its overall distribution of the marital estate. Appellant Husband now appeals the trial court’s adoption of Appellee Wife’s property survey dividing certain real property. Husband also appeals the trial court’s valuation of a tractor and attachments, which were awarded to Wife in the final decree of divorce. Because Wife’s survey does not comport with the division of real property as set out in the final decree of divorce, the trial court abused its discretion in adopting it. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s order as to the adoption of Wife’s survey. As to the value of the tractor, we conclude that the trial court’s valuation is within the range of values represented by the evidence and affirm this portion of the trial court’s order. Reversed in part, affirmed in part and remanded.

McNairy County Court of Appeals 12/07/16
In Re Estate of Ellra Donald Bostic
E2016-00553-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Douglas T. Jenkins

Decedent’s sister was appointed as executor of the estate and subsequently filed a will contest complaint regarding a single bequest in the will. The trial court removed sister as executor and appointed an administrator pendente lite. Ultimately, the trial court dismissed sister’s will contest on the basis that the sister was estopped from attacking the will after her appointment as executor. Sister appeals. We affirm the trial court’s ruling with regard to sister’s standing to contest the will. However, we vacate the trial court’s dismissal of sister’s will contest on the basis of estoppel and remand for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion. Affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.

Hawkins County Court of Appeals 12/06/16
Franklin Howard v. Tennessee Department of Correction, et al
M2016-00337-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman

This appeal arises from a declaratory judgment action filed by a prisoner to challenge the Tennessee Department of Correction’s manner of applying sentence reduction credits to his consecutive sentences. The trial court granted summary judgment to the Department of Correction upon concluding that it properly calculated the petitioner’s sentences and credits. We affirm. 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 12/05/16
In Re Hailey S.
M2016-00387-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clara W. Byrd

This appeal arises from an adjudication of dependency and neglect against the father of a child born out of wedlock and a denial of an intervening petition for custody filed by the father’s relatives. The father and intervening petitioners appeal the circuit court’s decision. We affirm.

Macon County Court of Appeals 12/05/16
In re Eddie F., et al.
E2016-00547-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark Toohey

This appeal involves the termination of a mother's parental rights to her four children by two different fathers. Mother contested the termination, but the fathers ultimately did not. The trial court found by clear and convincing evidence that several grounds for termination exist and that termination is in the best interests of the Children. The mother appeals. For the following reasons, we reverse the trial court's finding that Mother abandoned her children by failing to provide a suitable home. We also reverse the trial court's finding that Mother failed to substantially comply with the requirements of her permanency plans. However, we conclude that there is clear and convincing evidence to support the other grounds for termination relied upon by the trial court and that the termination of Mother's parental rights is in the Children's best interest.

Sullivan County Court of Appeals 12/02/16
Larry Smith v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01899-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Commissioner William O. Shults, Commissioner

The plaintiff is an inmate who filed a claim with the Claims Commission after the Tennessee Department of Correction made the determination that inmates were prohibited from possessing small electric heating appliances known as “hotpots.” He sought compensation for the loss of his hotpot under the Takings Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Commission dismissed the plaintiff's claim because it did not have subject matter jurisdiction over takings claims involving only personal property. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 9-8-307(a)(1)(V); 12-1-202 (defining “private property” as “real property, or improvements to real property . . . .”). The plaintiff appealed, contending that the definition of “private property” was unconstitutional under the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Horne v. Dep’t of Agric., --- U.S. ----,135 S. Ct. 2419, 192 L. Ed. 2d 388, (2015), which held that the government is required to pay just compensation under the Takings Clause when it physically takes possession of either real or personal property. We have determined that the Commission did not have authority to decide the plaintiff's facial challenge to the constitutionality of the statute. We have also determined the plaintiff would not be entitled to compensation even if his constitutional challenge to the statute was successful. Consequently, we affirm the dismissal of his claim.

Cocke County Court of Appeals 12/01/16
Sean Goble v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01824-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Commissioner William O. Shults, Commissioner

The plaintiff is an inmate who filed a claim with the Claims Commission after the Tennessee Department of Correction made the determination that inmates were prohibited from possessing small electric heating appliances known as “hotpots.” He sought compensation for the loss of his hotpot under the Takings Clauses of the Tennessee and U.S. Constitutions. The Commission dismissed the plaintiff's claim because it did not have subject matter jurisdiction over takings claims involving only personal property. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 9-8-307(a)(1)(V); 12-1-202 (defining “private property” as “real property, or improvements to real property . . . .”). The plaintiff appealed, contending that the definition of “private property” was unconstitutional under the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Horne v. Dep’t of Agric., --- U.S. ----,135 S. Ct. 2419, 192 L. Ed. 2d 388, (2015), which held that the government is required to pay just compensation under the Takings Clause when it physically takes possession of either real or personal property. We have determined that the Commission did not have authority to decide the plaintiff's facial challenge to the constitutionality of the statute. We have also determined the plaintiff would not be entitled to compensation even if his constitutional challenge to the statute was successful. Consequently, we affirm the dismissal of his claim.

Cocke County Court of Appeals 12/01/16
Ralph Thompson v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01845-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Commissioner William O. Shults, Commissioner

The plaintiff is an inmate who filed a claim with the Claims Commission after the Tennessee Department of Correction made the determination that inmates were prohibited from possessing small electric heating appliances known as “hotpots.” He sought compensation for the loss of his hotpot under the Takings Clauses of the Tennessee and U.S. Constitutions. The Commission dismissed the plaintiff's claim because it did not have subject matter jurisdiction over takings claims involving only personal property. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 9-8-307(a)(1)(V); 12-1-202 (defining “private property” as “real property, or improvements to real property . . . .”). The plaintiff appealed, contending that the definition of “private property” was unconstitutional under the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Horne v. Dep’t of Agric., --- U.S. ----,135 S. Ct. 2419, 192 L. Ed. 2d 388, (2015), which held that the government is required to pay just compensation under the Takings Clause when it physically takes possession of either real or personal property. We have determined that the Commission did not have authority to decide the plaintiff's facial challenge to the constitutionality of the statute. We have also determined the plaintiff would not be entitled to compensation even if his constitutional challenge to the statute was successful. Consequently, we affirm the dismissal of his claim.

Cocke County Court of Appeals 12/01/16
Kenneth Cradic v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01821-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Commissioner William O. Shults, Commissioner

The plaintiff is an inmate who filed a claim with the Claims Commission after the Tennessee Department of Correction made the determination that inmates were prohibited from possessing small electric heating appliances known as “hotpots.” He sought compensation for the loss of his hotpot under the Takings Clauses of the Tennessee and U.S. Constitutions.. The Commission dismissed the plaintiff's claim because it did not have subject matter jurisdiction over takings claims involving only personal property. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 9-8-307(a)(1)(V); 12-1-202 (defining “private property” as “real property, or improvements to real property . . . .”). The plaintiff appealed, contending that the definition of “private property” was unconstitutional under the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Horne v. Dep’t of Agric., --- U.S. ----,135 S. Ct. 2419, 192 L. Ed. 2d 388, (2015), which held that the government is required to pay just compensation under the Takings Clause when it physically takes possession of either real or personal property. We have determined that the Commission did not have authority to decide the plaintiff's facial challenge to the constitutionality of the statute. We have also determined the plaintiff would not be entitled to compensation even if his constitutional challenge to the statute was successful. Consequently, we affirm the dismissal of his claim.

Cocke County Court of Appeals 12/01/16
James Bates v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01819-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Commissioner William O. Shults, Commissioner

The plaintiff is an inmate who filed a claim with the Claims Commission after the Tennessee Department of Correction made the determination that inmates were prohibited from possessing small electric heating appliances known as “hotpots.” He sought compensation for the loss of his hotpot under the Takings Clauses of the Tennessee and U.S. Constitutions. The Commission dismissed the plaintiff's claim because it did not have subject matter jurisdiction over takings claims involving only personal property. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 9-8-307(a)(1)(V); 12-1-202 (defining “private property” as “real property, or improvements to real property . . . .”). The plaintiff appealed, contending that the definition of “private property” was unconstitutional under the U.S. Supreme Court‟s decision in Horne v. Dep’t of Agric., --- U.S. ----,135 S. Ct. 2419, 192 L. Ed. 2d 388, (2015), which held that the government is required to pay just compensation under the Takings Clause when it physically takes possession of either real or personal property. We have determined that the Commission did not have authority to decide the plaintiff's facial challenge to the constitutionality of the statute. We have also determined the plaintiff would not be entitled to compensation even if his constitutional challenge to the statute was successful. Consequently, we affirm the dismissal of his claim.

Cocke County Court of Appeals 12/01/16
John C. Wells, III v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01715-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Commissioner William O. Shults, Commissioner

The plaintiff is an inmate who filed a claim with the Claims Commission after the Tennessee Department of Correction made the determination that inmates were prohibited from possessing small electric heating appliances known as “hotpots.” He sought compensation for the loss of his hotpot “under the Takings Clause of the State and Federal Constitutions.” The Commission dismissed the plaintiff's claim because it did not have subject matter jurisdiction over takings claims involving only personal property. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 9-8-307(a)(1)(V); 12-1-202 (defining “private property” as “real property, or improvements to real property . . . .”). The plaintiff appealed, contending that the definition of “private property” was unconstitutional under the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Horne v. Dep’t of Agric., --- U.S. ----,135 S. Ct. 2419, 192 L. Ed. 2d 388 (2015), which held that the government is required to pay just compensation under the Takings Clause when it physically takes possession of either real or personal property. We have determined that the Commission did not have authority to decide the plaintiff's facial challenge to the constitutionality of the statute. We have also determined the plaintiff would not be entitled to compensation even if his constitutional challenge to the statute was successful. Consequently, we affirm the dismissal of his claim.

Cocke County Court of Appeals 12/01/16
Donald Crockett, et al. v. Sumner County Board of Education, et al
M2015-02227-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe Thompson

A thirteen year-old child slipped off bleacher seats at a middle school and injured his leg when he was using the seats as steps in July 2012.  The child and his parents sued the school for negligence, and the school asserted the defense of comparative negligence.  The trial court applied the Rule of Sevens, concluded the school rebutted the presumption of no capacity for negligence, and determined that the child was solely responsible for his injury.  The trial court also determined that the school was not liable for negligent supervision of the child.  The parents and child appeal, and we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 11/30/16
Joan Stephens, et al. v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., et al
M2016-00509-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Binkley

This case arises out of a workplace injury. The injured worker and her husband filed this lawsuit asserting various causes of action against numerous defendants. The trial court dismissed one of the defendants upon finding that the defendant was entitled to workers’ compensation immunity. The trial court certified its order of dismissal as final pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 54.02. Plaintiffs appeal, claiming that the defendant waived the affirmative defense of workers’ compensation immunity, that the trial court applied the wrong standard for a motion to dismiss, and that the particular claims asserted are not barred by the exclusive remedy provision of the workers’ compensation law. We affirm.  

Williamson County Court of Appeals 11/30/16
Bill Frank Brainerd v. Alisa Rheanne Brainerd
M2015-00362-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jane W. Wheatcraft

In this appeal arising from the parties’ divorce, the husband challenges the trial court’s valuation of his interest in a limited partnership, division of the marital estate, awards of transitional alimony and alimony in solido, child support order, and adoption of the wife’s proposed permanent parenting plan. The husband also appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion for a restraining order. We conclude that the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s valuation of the husband’s interest in the limited partnership. We also conclude that the trial court did not err in denying Husband’s motion for a restraining order. However, because the trial court failed to provide sufficient findings of fact and conclusions of law, we are unable to effectively review the remainder of the issues raised by the husband on appeal. Therefore, we vacate the judgment of the trial court with regard to these remaining issues and remand for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 11/30/16
Deborah Lacy v. Kevin Mitchell, D.C., et al.
M2016-00677-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Brothers

This appeal arises from the trial court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint based on her failure to comply with the pre-suit notice and certificate of good faith requirements of the Tennessee Health Care Liability Act (“THCLA”). On appeal, the plaintiff contends that she was not obligated to comply with the THCLA’s procedural requirements because her complaint did not assert a health care liability claim. Having reviewed the complaint, we conclude that it asserts two separate and distinct claims: one health care liability claim and one non-health care liability claim. We therefore affirm the trial court’s dismissal of the health care liability claim, vacate the trial court’s dismissal of the non-health care liability claim, and remand the case for further proceedings.  

Davidson County Court of Appeals 11/30/16
In Re: Emily M.
M2015-01017-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donna Davenport

This appeal arises from the change in the designation of the primary residential parent and the modification of a residential parenting schedule. Mother appeals, contending that certain factual findings made by the court are unsupported by the record and that the court erred in restricting her parenting time. The court’s findings are supported by the record and did not abuse its discretion in reducing Mother’s parenting time; accordingly, we affirm the judgment.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 11/30/16
In re Addison B.
E2016-00966-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Dennis Roach, II

This appeal involves the termination of a father's parental rights. The father is currently serving an eight-year sentence after pleading guilty to two counts of attempted child rape, with the victims being the child at issue and her older half-sister. The trial court terminated the father's parental rights upon finding by clear and convincing evidence that six grounds for termination were proven and that termination was in the best interest of the child. We vacate the trial court's findings as to three grounds but affirm the trial court's findings regarding the remaining three grounds and affirm the best interest finding. We accordingly affirm the trial court's order as modified and uphold the termination of the father's parental rights.

Jefferson County Court of Appeals 11/30/16
In re Gabriella D. DISSENT
E2016-00139-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge L. Marie Williams

I fully concur in the majority's affirmance on the ground of severe abuse as to Gabriella D. Because I cannot agree that Foster Parents have shown clear and convincing evidence sufficient to forever sever the parent-child relationship at issue in this case, however, I must respectfully dissent from the majority's decision to reverse the trial court and grant Foster Parents' petition to terminate Mother's parental rights.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 11/30/16
In re Gabriella D.
E2016-00139-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge L. Marie Williams
This is a termination of parental rights case involving Gabriella D., who was age seven at the time of trial. The mother, Carla D. ("Mother"), and the father, Julius D. ("Father"), have three children currently involved in termination actions: Chance D., Gabriella D., and Jude D. (collectively, "the Children"). Mother and Father have an extensive history with child welfare agencies and the courts in both Tennessee and Georgia.1 In March 2012, the Hamilton County Juvenile Court ("juvenile court") granted temporary legal custody of the Children to the Tennessee Department of Children‘s Services ("DCS"). Upon their placement in DCS custody, the Children were placed in the home of Karen P. and Thomas S. (collectively, "Foster Parents").2 DCS did not seek a finding of severe child abuse against Mother in the dependency and neglect action in juvenile court. Foster Parents filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of Mother and to adopt Gabriella D. ("Gabriella") in the Hamilton County Circuit Court ("trial court") on July 31, 2013. Foster Parents concomitantly filed separate termination of parental rights actions involving Gabriella‘s two siblings, Chance D. ("Chance") and Jude D. ("Jude"). Following a bench trial, the trial court found by clear and convincing evidence that Mother had committed severe child abuse against Chance while he was in her custody. The trial court recognized that the determination of severe child abuse against Chance was a ground for termination of Mother‘s parental rights to Gabriella. The trial court also found, however, that Foster Parents had not proven by clear and convincing evidence that the conditions leading to the removal of the Children persisted or that termination of Mother‘s parental rights was in Gabriella‘s best interest.3 The trial court thereby denied the petition to terminate Mother‘s parental rights to Gabriella. Foster Parents have appealed. We affirm the trial court‘s finding that the statutory ground of severe child abuse was proven by clear and convincing evidence. However, having determined that Foster Parents also proved by clear and convincing evidence that termination of Mother‘s parental rights was in the best interest of Gabriella, we reverse the trial court‘s denial of the termination petition. We therefore grant Foster Parents‘ petition for termination of Mother‘s parental rights to Gabriella. We remand this matter to the trial court for an adjudication regarding Foster Parents‘ petition for adoption.
 
Hamilton County Court of Appeals 11/30/16