Court Opinions

Format: 10/19/2019
Format: 10/19/2019
Billy Perdue, Et Al. v. Greg Kneedler, Et Al.
M2018-00722-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Louis W. Oliver

This appeal involves a breach of a lease agreement. At trial, both defendants, operators of a natural foods business, admitted that the lease had been breached. However, because only one of the Defendants had signed the lease, the other argued that he was not a party to and was therefore not responsible for the obligations of the lease. The Defendant who had signed the lease claimed he did so on behalf of and at the direction of the other. Finding that both Defendants had combined their efforts, skills, knowledge, and money for the purpose of operating the business, the trial court concluded on several bases that the Defendants were jointly liable for the obligations of the lease. Only the non-signing Defendant appeals. Because we agree with the trial court that the Defendants had formed a joint venture and, thus, were jointly liable, we affirm. 

Sumner County Court of Appeals 09/17/19
Randy Lynn Simpkins v. Joe Ward, Et Al.
M2018-01327-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deanna B. Johnson

This appeal involves a boundary dispute. In resolving the dispute, the trial court made specific findings about the location of a
non-party’s border, indicating that it was coterminous with the disputed northern border of Mr. Simpkins, who is a party to this case. Finding this non-party to be a necessary party based on the record, we vacate the trial court’s order and remand for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion. 

Hickman County Court of Appeals 09/17/19
State of Tennessee v. Charles Eugene Darvin, Jr.
M2018-01669-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

Following a bench trial before the Davidson County Criminal Court, the Defendant-Appellant, Charles Eugene Darvin, Jr., was convicted as charged of especially aggravated robbery, see Tenn. Code Ann. §39-13-403, a Class A felony. The trial court later accepted the agreement of the parties to sentence the Defendant to a term of fifteen years’ imprisonment, to be served at 100%. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the evidence is sufficient to support the element of serious bodily injury as required to establish the offense. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/17/19
Steven Shao Ex Rel Elizabeth Shao v. HCA Health Services Of Tennessee, Inc., Et Al.
M2018-02040-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Don R. Ash

All claims on the plaintiff’s case in chief in this case have been non-suited. This is an appeal only from three orders for sanctions entered against plaintiff’s attorney. In the first order, the trial court awarded opposing counsel attorney’s fees and prohibited the attorney from making any threatening, insulting, or embarrassing communications regarding opposing counsel. In the second and third orders, the trial court found that the attorney had continued the prohibited conduct, suspending him from the practice of law in the Circuit Courts of Davidson County for a total of 240 days and awarding opposing counsel their attorney’s fees. The attorney appealed the three orders. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 09/16/19
Nationwide Investments, LLC v. Pinnacle Bank
M2018-01180-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Brothers

In this case, the plaintiff-appellant, Nationwide Investments, LLC, brought suit against Pinnacle Bank for, among other things, an alleged violation of the state’s Financial Records Privacy Act. The case was dismissed at summary judgment, and sanctions were imposed against the plaintiff and its counsel. Although the plaintiff and its counsel now appeal, raising several issues for our review, for the reasons stated herein, we affirm.  

Davidson County Court of Appeals 09/16/19
John Burley Alberts v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00994-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph A. Woodruff

The Petitioner, John Burley Alberts, appeals the Williamson County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for four counts of rape of a child, for which he is serving an effective 100-year sentence. He contends that the
post-conviction court erred in denying his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/16/19
State of Tennessee v. Darrell Wren
W2018-02087-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge John W. Campbell

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Darrell Wren, of second degree murder, attempt to commit second degree murder, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The trial court imposed an effective forty-five year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions for second degree murder and attempt to commit second degree murder and that the trial court’s sentence is excessive. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments and remand for the execution of a corrected judgment for the employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony conviction.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/13/19
Jason Wayne Staggs v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01688-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

Petitioner, Jason Wayne Staggs, pled guilty in the Tipton County Circuit Court as a persistent offender to (1) burglary of a building, (2) theft of property valued over $10,000 and less than $60,000, and (3) evading arrest. The trial court sentenced Petitioner pursuant to a plea agreement to an effective sentence of fifteen years’ incarceration to be served at forty-five percent. Petitioner timely filed pro se petitions for post-conviction relief, and the post-conviction court appointed counsel, who filed an amended petition. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the post-conviction petition in a written order. On appeal, Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and his guilty plea was unknowing. Following a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/13/19
Sean Patrick Goble v. State of Tennessee
E2018-01659-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alex Pearson

The Petitioner, Sean Patrick Goble, appeals from the Greene County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition pursuant to the Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001 (the Act), Tennessee Code Annotated sections 40-30-301 to -313 (2018). The
post-conviction court denied relief on the basis that the results of the DNA analysis would not have exculpated the Petitioner of first degree murder. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the court erred in dismissing his petition. We affirm the judgment of the
post-conviction court.

Greene County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/13/19
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Edward Wilson
M2018-00578-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

Following a jury trial, Defendant, Joseph Edward Wilson, was convicted of two counts of the sale of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine, one count of the sale of less than 0.5 grams of cocaine, and one count of delivery of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine. The trial court merged one of Defendant’s convictions for the sale of 0.5 grams or more and his conviction for the delivery of 0.5 grams or more because they were part of the same criminal episode. The trial court sentenced Defendant to serve an effective twelve-year sentence. The sole issue raised on appeal is whether the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s convictions. Having reviewed the entire record and the parties’ briefs on appeal, we affirm Defendant’s convictions and sentences, but we remand this case to the trial court for entry of a judgment for the merged offense pursuant to State v. Berry, 503 S.W.3d 360 (Tenn. 2015). Additionally, on remand the trial court is directed to enter corrected judgments for each of Defendant’s remaining convictions to clarify which of Defendant’s sentences run concurrently.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/13/19
State of Tennessee v. Martiness Henderson
W2018-02015-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

A Shelby County jury convicted the juvenile defendant, Martiness Henderson, of first degree murder committed during the perpetration of a robbery. After conviction, the trial court immediately imposed a life sentence which the defendant now challenges as unconstitutional. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/12/19
Tamala Teague, As Successor Personal Representative Of The Estate Of Lola Lee Duggan v. Garnett Kidd Et Al. - Dissent
E2019-00330-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jerri Bryant

As noted in the majority's opinion, the first administrator' of the estate of Lola Lee Duggan sought "to recover funds unlawfully converted through fraud, false dealing and misapplication of trust by Defendant[s]." He requested "that a Lien Lis Pendens be placed against the real property acquired by Garnett and William Kidd ("the Kidds" or "Defendants")2 in this cause to secure any judgment which may be obtain[ed] by the Estate." (Emphasis in original.). Despite praying "[t]hat [p]laintiff have such additional general and equitable relief to which it may be entitled upon the hearing of this cause," the administrator did not specifically seek the entry of an order declaring the existence of a constructive trust. Upon trial, appeal, and remand from this court, an amended final judgment was entered against Mrs. Kidd for $117,679 in damages and $79,052.48 in prejudgment interest, for a total judgment of $196,731.48.3 That judgment was not appealed by the successor administrator ("Plaintiff').

Polk County Court of Appeals 09/12/19
Tamala Teague, As Successor Personal Representative Of The Estate Of Lola Lee Duggan v. Garnett Kidd Et Al.
E2019-00330-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jerri Bryant

This case implicates the doctrine of res judicata. Tamala Teague (plaintiff) is the administrator of the estate of Lola Lee Duggan. Garnette Kidd and William Kidd (defendants) are Ms. Duggan’s daughter and son-in-law. In a previous lawsuit, the trial court determined that defendants wrongfully took more than $100,000 of Ms. Duggan’s assets and used some of that money to purchase 132 acres of real estate. After a bench trial, the court, in that first case, awarded money damages to Ms. Duggan’s estate. A few years later, plaintiff filed a second complaint against the defendants. The complaint alleged the same facts that precipitated the previous lawsuit. This time, however, plaintiff sought a different remedy – the entry of an order declaring the existence of a constructive trust with respect to the 132 acres of real estate. The trial court ruled that the doctrine of res judicata barred plaintiff from pursuing this alternative remedy in a second suit against the same defendants on the same cause of action. Accordingly, the court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss and denied plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff appeals. We affirm.

Polk County Court of Appeals 09/12/19
Timothy Hopson, Ex Rel Elizabeth Miller v. American Advisors Group
E2018-01698-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge James E. Lauderback

This is a consolidated appeal concerning real property granted to the defendant in a detainer action. We affirm.

Carter County Court of Appeals 09/12/19
Timothy Hopson v. American Advisors Group
E2018-1916-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jean A. Stanley

This is a consolidated appeal concerning real property granted to the defendant in a detainer action. We affirm.

Carter County Court of Appeals 09/12/19
Victoria Bigelow v. John Schumacher
M2019-00806-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry R. Tidwell

This is a parentage action in which the putative father challenged the trial court’s jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-201, et seq. After the trial court accepted jurisdiction and appointed a special master, the putative father filed a notice of appeal. Because the trial court has not entered a final judgment that resolves all the claims between the parties, we dismiss the appeal. 

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 09/11/19
Deborah Lynn Mathews v. Douglas Clay Mathews
M2018-01886-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Philip E. Smith

This is a post-divorce case involving a husband’s petition to terminate his alimony obligation. Husband argued that the wife cohabited with a paramour, which, pursuant to the parties’ MDA, terminated his alimony obligation. The trial court, however, found that wife and her paramour did not cohabit with one another and denied husband’s petition. Additionally, the trial court denied wife’s request for attorney’s fees, finding that her increased income, combined with the alimony she was receiving from husband, allowed her to afford to pay her attorney’s fees at trial. Wife and Husband raise separate issues on appeal. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 09/11/19
Jared Effler Et Al. v. Purdue Pharma L.P. Et Al.
E2018-01994-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. McAfee

This appeal concerns the interpretation of the Drug Dealer Liability Act, Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-38-101, -116 (“DDLA”). A number of Tennessee district attorneys (“the District Attorney Plaintiffs”), as well as two minor children through their guardian ad litem (“Plaintiffs,” all together), sued certain drug manufacturers (“Manufacturer Defendants”) and others in the Circuit Court for Campbell County (“the Trial Court”) alleging the diversion of opioids.1 Manufacturer Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. The Trial Court, in granting the motion to dismiss, held that the DDLA does not apply to manufacturers who lawfully produce drugs and that Plaintiffs had failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiffs appeal, arguing that their complaint contained allegations sufficient to withstand the motion to dismiss. Manufacturer Defendants contend that the DDLA applies to “street dealers,” not regulated entities such as themselves. In addition, Manufacturer Defendants argue that the District Attorney Plaintiffs lack standing. We hold, first, that the DDLA allows district attorneys to pursue DDLA claims on behalf of the political subdivisions within their respective judicial districts. Thus, the District Attorney Plaintiffs have standing. We hold further that, taking as true Plaintiffs’ detailed allegations that Manufacturer Defendants knowingly participated in the diversion of opioids, Plaintiffs have stated claims upon which relief can be granted. We reverse the judgment of the Trial Court and remand for this case to proceed.

Campbell County Court of Appeals 09/11/19
Richard Kelly Smith v. Grady Perry, Warden
W2019-00159-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

Richard Kelly Smith, Petitioner, filed a pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (“the Petition”), claiming that he is “being illegally restrained of his liberty by an illegal, void, and/or expired criminal conviction/sentence.” The habeas corpus court found that his sentence had not expired and that the Petition “demonstrate[d] no right to relief” and summarily dismissed the Petition. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/11/19
State of Tennessee v. Manoochehre Lee Dadfar
M2018-01547-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The Defendant, Manoochehre Lee Dadfar, appeals the Lincoln County Circuit Court’s order revoking his probation for his convictions for initiating the manufacture of methamphetamine and possession with the intent to sell a controlled substance and ordering him to serve the remainder of his effective ten-year sentence in confinement. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lincoln County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/11/19
Patricia A. Graham v. Garrett Weaver Et Al.
E2018-00682-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald Ray Elledge

Plaintiff appeals the dismissal of her premises liability action for failure to show that Defendant was the owner of the premises or built the deck on which Plaintiff fell. Plaintiff has failed to file a trial transcript or statement of the evidence; consequently, we accord the trial court’s judgment a presumption that the evidence supports the holding and affirm the judgment.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 09/10/19
Sharon A. Loving v. Jonathan E. Loving
E2018-00667-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor M. Nichole Cantrell

Husband appeals from a divorce judgment and the entry of a permanent parenting plan, arguing that the trial court erred in not allowing him to put on any proof at the trial of this matter. For the reasons stated herein, and because we conclude that Husband should have been able to put on proof concerning the child’s best interests, we vacate the permanent parenting plan and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Anderson County Court of Appeals 09/10/19
State of Tennessee Ex Rel. Rachel Beth Haynes v. Allan Vincent Daugherty
M2018-01394-COA-R10-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Diana Benson Burns

The issue in this interlocutory appeal is whether the trial court erred in requiring a cash-only appearance bond. Father, who had an arrearage judgment for failing to pay child support, was arrested and incarcerated pursuant to an order of attachment under Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-5-101(f)(2). The trial court set an appearance bond, without an evidentiary hearing, at the full amount of the alleged arrearage, $13,413.45, and restricted the bond to cash. The order also directed that, upon payment of the cash bond, the funds were to be forwarded immediately to the State Disbursement Unit and applied to Father’s arrears. In subsequent hearings, the trial court denied Father the right to post a secured bond, and this Tenn. R. App. P. 10 Extraordinary Appeal followed. First, we hold that the trial court violated Father’s constitutional rights under Article I, section 15 of the Tennessee Constitution and under the equal protection guarantees of both the Tennessee and United States Constitutions by imposing a cash-only appearance bond. Second, we hold that the trial court violated Father’s due process rights under both the state and federal constitutions by imposing a $13,413.45 cash-only bond as a means to collect a civil debt and ordering that the bond be immediately applied in satisfaction of the alleged debt, without an evidentiary hearing. Finally, we hold that the trial court misconstrued the applicable statute, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-5-101(f)(2), as allowing it to use the appearance bond solely as a means to collect the alleged arrears, rather than as a means to ensure Father’s appearance for legal proceedings. Therefore, because the trial court failed to identify and apply the appropriate legal principles, both statutory and constitutional, and its decision was not supported by an evidentiary foundation, the decision constituted an abuse of discretion. Because the trial court erred in requiring a cash-only appearance bond, the judgment of the trial court is reversed, the amount of bond shall be $1,000, which Father may post with sufficient sureties, and the case is remanded for further proceedings as may be necessary.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 09/10/19
State of Tennessee v. Helena Moore
E2018-00709-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeffrey Hill Wicks

The Appellant, Helena Moore, appeals the trial court’s revocation of her community corrections sentence and order to serve her original two-year sentence in confinement, contending that she should have been returned to community corrections. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Roane County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/10/19
State of Tennessee Ex Rel. Rachel Beth Haynes v. Allan Vincent Daugherty - Concurring in part and dissenting in part
M2018-01394-COA-R10-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Diana Benson Burns

When Allan Daugherty fell behind in paying child support for his three children, the State of Tennessee, acting on behalf of the children’s mother, filed a petition for civil contempt. Mr. Daugherty and the State agreed on the amount of the child support arrearage, $10,288.57, and Mr. Daugherty further agreed that an automatic attachment could issue for his arrest if he failed to pay child support for a thirty-day period. The circuit court confirmed an agreed order reflecting both of these agreements. 

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 09/10/19