Court Opinions

Format: 04/17/2014
Format: 04/17/2014
Joseph E. Rich, M.D. v. Dan Warlick
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Patricia J. Cottrell
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ben H. Cantrell

A doctor who became the subject of disciplinary proceedings by the Tennessee Medical Examiners Board filed a complaint for legal malpractice against the attorney who had represented him in those proceedings. The doctor asserted that the Board suspended his medical license for one year as a result of numerous acts of professional negligence by the attorney. The attorney filed a motion for summary judgment, denying that he was guilty of any professional negligence and contending that in any case, the doctor’s complaint was barred by the one-year statute of limitations for legal malpractice. The trial court granted partial summary judgment to the attorney on the basis of the statute of limitations. The court ruled that the doctor suffered a legally cognizable injury when the attorney failed to disclose a list of proposed witnesses to the Administrative Law Judge assigned to conduct the evidentiary hearing, which was more than one year earlier than the doctor’s filing of his legal malpractice complaint. The court accordingly held that the attorney could not be held liable for his failure to disclose the witnesses, or for anyother acts that occurred more than one year prior to the filing of the malpractice complaint. The court certified its judgment as final for purposes of appeal under Tenn. R. Civ. P. 54.02. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/16/14
Richard Price v. State of Tennessee
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Otis Higgs Jr.

The Petitioner, Richard Price, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that his trial counsel was ineffective (1) for failing to communicate a plea offer from the State; and (2) for failing to request a curative jury instruction after a police officer testified that he “attempted to talk to” the Petitioner about the offense. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/16/14
Kristi Kimbro v. Brenda Jones, Warden
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Wright

The petitioner, Kristi Kimbro, pled guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to thirty-seven years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Subsequently, she filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, alleging that her sentence was void. The habeas corpus court denied the petition, and the petitioner now appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/16/14
State of Tennessee v. James Melton
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge William E. Lantrip

The Defendant-Appellant, James Melton, appeals the trial court’s revocation of his probation and reinstatement of his original six-year sentence in the Department of Correction. On appeal, Melton argues that the trial court based its decision on improper evidence and refused to admit proper evidence. The State responds that there is substantial evidence in the record to support the trial court’s order of revocation. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Anderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/16/14
State of Tennessee v. Gevon Cortez Patton
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge John F. Dugger, Jr.

A Hamblen County jury convicted Gevon Cortez Patton of especially aggravated kidnapping and criminally negligent homicide. The trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of twenty-five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, appellant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, that the trial court erred in admitting into evidence the transcript of appellant’s juvenile court transfer hearing, that the trial court erred by forcing appellant’s brother to testify and then declaring him unavailable when he refused to testify, that the trial court erred by admitting an exhibit into evidence when the State had not proven the chain of custody, and that the trial court erred in its sentencing of appellant. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hamblen County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/16/14
Larry O. Evans v. Fidelity & Guaranty Insurance Company
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Paul G. Summers
Trial Court Judge: Judge L. Craig Johnson

An employee sustained a compensable injury. The trial court ruled that the employee’s partial disability award should be apportioned to the arm. The employee has appealed, asserting that the award should have been apportioned to his thumb. The appeal has been referred to the Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel for a hearing and a report of findings of fact and conclusions of law in accordance with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment.

Coffee County Supreme Court 04/16/14
State of Tennessee v. Sharron Joy Mayberry
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge George C. Sexton

A Humphreys County Circuit Court Jury convicted the appellant, Sharron Joy Mayberry, of simple possession of a Schedule III controlled substance, a Class A misdemeanor, and the trial court sentenced her to eleven months, twenty-nine days suspended to probation and community service. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by denying her motion to suppress evidence, that the trial court erred by not giving a missing evidence jury instruction, and that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Humphreys County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/16/14
Teresa Lee Walker v. Larry Alan Walker
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge James W. McKenzie

This post-divorce appeal concerns the equitable division of property between the Parties. Following the grant of the request for divorce, the trial court credited Husband for separate property he contributed to the marital residence to equalize the overall division of the property. Wife appeals. We affirm the decision of the trial court.

Rhea County Court of Appeals 04/16/14
Michael W. Smith v. Kimberly Chrestman
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Alan E. Highers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jerry Stokes

The trial court dismissed Appellant’s complaint for lack of prosecution. Finding no abuse of discretion, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 04/16/14
William E. Cherry et. al. v. Reagan Farr, Commissioner of the Department of Revenue for the State of Tennessee
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robbie T. Beal

Plaintiffs filed suit to recover income taxes paid under protest pursuant to Tennessee’s Hall Income Tax. At issue is a “Special Dividend” Plaintiffs received that was classified by the corporation for income tax purposes as a return of “paid-in capital.” Plaintiffs contend the Special Dividend was exempt because the Hall Income Tax states, in pertinent part, that “no distribution of capital shall be taxed as income under this chapter, and no distribution of surplus by way of stock dividend shall be taxable in the year such distribution is made; but all other distributions out of earned surplus shall be taxed as income when and in whatever manner made, regardless of when such surplus was earned[.]” Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-2-104(e)(7) (2011). The trial court ruled in favor of Plaintiffs based upon a finding that “[t]he Special Dividend was not a leveraged dividend and as such the reduction in book value could have onlycome through a return of capital distribution.” We have determined the mere fact the dividend was not a leveraged dividend is not sufficient to prove the dividend was exempt from the Tennessee Hall Income Tax. To qualify for the exemption, Plaintiffs had the burden to prove the Special Dividend was paid out of capital. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-2-104(e)(7). We, therefore, reverse and remand for entry of judgment in favor of the Department of Revenue and for other proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 04/15/14
Ronald Lampley, et al. v. Town of Chapel Hill, Tennessee, et al.
Authoring Judge: Senior Judge Ben H. Cantrell
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin Lee Russell

A real estate developer entered an agreement with the Town of Chapel Hill to purchase sewer and water taps in exchange for the Town’s extension of a sewer line to the developer’s property. The developer paid the money and the Town extended the line, as agreed. Developer later lost the property through foreclosure before development occurred. When the property was sold to a third party, the Town transferred the sewer and water taps to the purchasers. The developer filed a complaint alleging the Town breached the agreement by transferring taps that belonged to the developer to the third party purchasers. The Town denied it breached the agreement and moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted the Town’s motion for summary judgment and the developer appealed. We affirm. The agreement evidences the parties’ intention that the sewer and water taps were to be used in connection with the development of the property the developer owned when the agreement was executed. When the developer lost the property through foreclosure, the developer had no more interest in the taps.

Marshall County Court of Appeals 04/15/14
Qui Pham v. Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle

Inmate filed petition for writ of certiorari seeking review of decisions of the Board of Parole denying him parole and setting a two year period for his next consideration. Trial court dismissed petition; finding no error, we affirm the decision.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/15/14
Cindy Wheatley, et al. v. Robert J. Martineau, et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Carol L. McCoy

This appeal arises from a certiorari proceeding instituted in December of 2011 in which owners of property adjoining a landfill sought review of the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s decision in October 2011 to issue a modification of a permit to operate a Class II disposal facilitywhich was issued in 2008. The trial court held that the approval of the modification in 2011 was invalid because it was grounded on the 2008 permit, which the court also held to be invalidly approved; the court ordered the Commissioner to take action to void the 2008 permit and 2011 modification. The Commissioner and landfill owner appeal the holding that the 2008 permit and 2011 modification are null and void; adjoining landowners appeal the denial of their request for injunctive relief and ask this court to decide two issues which the trial court did not address. We conclude that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to review the issuance of the 2008 permit and to declare it void; that the Commissioner’s authority to approve the 2011 modification was not conditioned on the expansion project being approved by the city and county legislative bodies; that the landfill owner was not required to submit the 2011 modification application to the regional solid waste board prior to securing the Commissioner’s approval; and that the Commissioner had no dutyto require thatthe material to be placed in the landfill be determined not hazardous prior to approving the modification. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and dismiss the petition.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 04/15/14