Court Opinions

Format: 10/17/2017
Format: 10/17/2017
James Davis d/b/a Davis Auto Repair v. Tennessee Board of Water Quality, Oil, & Gas
W2016-00870-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Walter L. Evans

After Appellant failed to comply with the terms of a storm water permit issued to him, he was fined $5,000.00 by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. The fine was upheld by an administrative law judge and, upon judicial review, by the Shelby County Chancery Court. For the reasons stated herein, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 10/16/17
Carroll Crews v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00578-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The Petitioner, Carroll Crews, appeals from the denial of post-conviction relief by the Dyer County Circuit Court. In this appeal, she argues that she received ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Alan Terry Stein
M2016-01345-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amanda Jane McClendon

A Davidson County Criminal Court jury convicted the Defendant, Alan Terry Stein, of driving under the influence (DUI) and driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more (DUI per se), and he received a sentence of  eleven months and twenty-nine days, suspended to supervised probation.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erroneously instructed the jury and improperly denied his motions for special jury instructions.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.  However, we remand the case for entry of a judgment form as to count one reflecting that the Defendant’s DUI conviction was merged with count two.   

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/16/17
Regions Bank v. Thomas D. Thomas, Et Al.
W2015-00798-SC-R11-CV
Authoring Judge: Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Childers

We granted this appeal to determine whether the Court of Appeals correctly applied the statutory “rebuttable presumption rule” under Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code, as codified at Tennessee Code Annotated section 47-9-626, in reversing the trial court and concluding that the Plaintiff, Regions Bank, was not entitled to recover a deficiency from the Defendants, Thomas D. Thomas, Helen L. Thomas, and The Thomas Family Living Trust. We conclude that both the trial court and the Court of Appeals erred in their respective applications of the “rebuttable presumption rule.” Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, the judgment of the trial court is vacated, and this matter is remanded to the trial court for further proceedings as set forth herein.

Shelby County Supreme Court 10/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Billy Joe Nelson
M2016-00010-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paul G. Summers

Following a trial, a Coffee County jury found the Defendant, Billy Joe Nelson, guilty of aggravated rape, carjacking, robbery, and two counts of aggravated kidnapping.  The trial court sentenced the Defendant to a total effective sentence of thirty years in the Department of Correction.  On appeal, the Defendant challenges whether the State sufficiently proved his identity as the perpetrator of the offenses.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.  

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/16/17
Belinda Butler Pandey v. Aneel Madhukar Pandey
M2016-01919-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Philip E. Smith

This action presents issues regarding the interpretation and application of a postnuptial agreement previously executed by parties who later filed for divorce. The trial court determined that the parties’ agreement was valid and enforced its terms, including a provision allowing for an award of attorney’s fees to a prevailing party who was attempting to defend the agreement. The trial court granted the wife an award of attorney’s fees pursuant to this provision. In addition, the husband filed two motions seeking the trial judge’s recusal, which the trial court denied. The husband timely appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm the trial court’s judgment. We further determine that the wife is not entitled to an award of attorney’s fees incurred on appeal.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Vincent D. Clark
M2016-02101-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R.Goodman III

In this appeal as of right, the State challenges the Montgomery County Circuit Court’s dismissal of a probation revocation warrant as untimely.  Because the probationary period of the defendant, Vincent D. Clark, had not expired at the time of the filing of the revocation warrant, the trial court erred in its dismissal.  Accordingly, we vacate the trial court’s judgment and remand for a new hearing.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Stephen Alexander Lyczkowski
M2016-02273-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge David L. Allen

The Defendant, Stephen Alexander Lyczkowski, entered a guilty plea in the Maury County Circuit Court to domestic aggravated assault with the length of the sentence to be determined by the trial court.  Following a hearing, the trial court imposed a sentence of ten years.  On appeal, the sole issue presented for our review is whether the trial court imposed an excessive sentence.  The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Dennis Miller
M2016-02302-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson
The Defendant, Dennis Gregory Miller, entered a guilty plea to reckless aggravated assault, a Class D felony, with the punishment to be determined by the trial court. The Defendant requested judicial diversion and a sentence to be served on probation. After a hearing, the trial court denied diversion and imposed a two-year sentence, with sixty days to be served incarcerated and the remainder on probation. The Defendant appeals, asserting that the trial court abused its discretion. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 
White County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/17
State of Tennessee v. Kandi Sue Gaines
M2016-02515-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Russell Parkes

The Defendant, Kandi Sue Gaines, was convicted at a Lawrence County Circuit Court bench trial of shoplifting property valued at $500 or less, a Class A misdemeanor, for which she is serving an eleven-month, twenty-nine-day sentence on probation.  See T.C.A. § 39-14-146 (2014) (amended 2017) (theft of property involving merchandise).  On appeal, she contends that the evidence is insufficient to support her conviction.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/17
Randy A. Rice v. State of Tennessee
W2016-02592-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

Petitioner, Randy A. Rice, appeals the denial of his petition seeking post-conviction relief from his convictions for felony murder and facilitation of especially aggravated robbery. Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of both trial and appellate counsel. Upon our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/12/17
State of Tennessee v. Gregory Ricardo McDonald, III
M2015-02004-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Vanessa A. Jackson

Following a bench trial, the Defendant, Gregory Ricardo McDonald III, was convicted of one count of criminal impersonation, a Class B misdemeanor; two counts of forgery of $500 or less, a Class E felony; and one count of identity theft, a Class D felony.  See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-14-105, -14-114, -14-150, -16-301 (2012).  The trial court subsequently imposed a total effective sentence of twelve years.  In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions and (2) that his statement to police should have been excluded because “there was not an adequate waiver executed in acknowledgement of his” Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), warnings.  Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/12/17
In Re: Estate of Donald Carl Battle
M2017-00227-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Randall Kennedy
This is a partition case. Appellants petitioned the trial court to order a partition sale of property they own as tenants in common with Appellee. The court ordered the property to be appraised and, upon receipt of the appraisal, held that the Appellee could buy out Appellants’ interest in the property for their portion of the appraised value. Appellants appeal the trial court’s failure to order a sale of the Property in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-27-201. We reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for further proceedings.
 
Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/12/17
Raymond Cass Ballard v. Gertrude Cayabas
W2016-01913-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Tony Childress

Father filed a petition to change primary residential parent and for civil and criminal contempt. Because there was no material change of circumstance that affected the wellbeing of the child, we affirm the trial court’s dismissal of Father’s petition. We also affirm the trial court’s decision not to find Mother in civil contempt.

Dyer County Court of Appeals 10/12/17
In Re Lyric A.
M2015-02468-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

This appeal arises from the termination of Mother’s parental rights with respect to her minor child. Father and Grandmother jointly filed a “Petition for Termination and Adoption” to terminate Mother’s parental rights and to allow Grandmother to adopt the child without terminating Father’s parental rights. The trial court granted the petition and Mother appeals. We have determined that petitioners do not have standing to petition the court to terminate Mother’s parental rights in order to allow Grandmother to adopt the child without terminating Father’s parental rights. Therefore, we reverse and remand with instructions to dismiss the petition for lack of standing. 

Warren County Court of Appeals 10/12/17
In Re Brennen T.
M2016-01639-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Laurence M. McMillan, Jr.

This appeal involves the termination of a mother and father’s parental rights to their minor child.  Following a bench trial, the trial court found that clear and convincing evidence existed to support the termination of each parent’s parental rights on the statutory groundof abandonment for failure to remit child support.  The court further found that termination of each parent’s rights was in the best interest of the child.  The parents appeal.  We affirm. 

Robertson County Court of Appeals 10/12/17
Jonah Paul Anders v. Mayla Anders
W2016-02561-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gina C. Higgins

Because the order appealed is not a final judgment, we must dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 10/12/17
Raymond Hunter, Jr. v. City Of Chattanooga Beer Board
E2017-00017-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Pamela A. Fleenor

The petitioner seeks reversal of the denial of a beer permit by the city. City’s board asserts that the property is unsuitable for a beer permit as it has lost its zoning status as a “grandfathered in” restaurant, bar, or event hall. The trial court affirmed the board’s action. The petitioner filed this appeal. The trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to consider it. We vacate the trial court’s order and dismiss this case.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 10/12/17
Bradley Jetmore v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville & Davidson County, Tennessee
M2016-01792-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies
A petitioner seeking to inspect and obtain copies of traffic accident reports prepared by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (“MNPD”) “promptly,” as required by the Tennessee Public Records Act (“TPRA” or “the Act”), filed a petition for injunctive relief. The trial court granted the petitioner the relief requested, and the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (“Metro”) appealed. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.
 
Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/12/17
Donnie Trammell, et al. v. D'eddrick Peoples, et al.
M2016-02198-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kelvin D. Jones
This is a negligence action concerning injuries sustained from an accident. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. We reverse.
 
Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/11/17
In Re Estate of Marjorie Ross Potter
W2016-01809-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Karen D. Webster

Beneficiary of decedent’s estate appeals the judgment holding that the executor did not breach his fiduciary duty in administering the estate and the award of a fee to the executor. Upon a thorough review of the record, we affirm the decision of the Probate Court.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 10/11/17
Estate of Evelyn Sample v. Life Care Centers Of America, Inc., Et Al.
E2017-00687-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney, C.J.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael S. Pemberton

The Estate of Evelyn Sample (“the Estate”) appeals the March 13, 2017 order of the Circuit Court for Bradley County (“the Trial Court”) granting summary judgment to Life Care Centers of America, Inc. and Life Care Center of Cleveland (collectively “Life Care”) in this health care liability action. We find and hold that Life Care made a properly supported motion for summary judgment negating an essential element of the Estate’s claim, i.e., causation, and that the Estate failed to produce evidence showing a genuine issue of material fact. We, therefore, affirm the grant of summary judgment to Life Care.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 10/11/17
William August Lockler, III v. Pamela Michelle Barr Lockler
E2016-02308-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Eddie Lauderback

This case involves the interpretation of a divorce judgment. William August Lockler, III, and Pamela Michelle Barr Lockler were married on January 3, 2002, and divorced on September 6, 2007. In its judgment, the original trial judge, the Honorable Jean A. Stanley, ordered that “If [wife] is entitled under federal law to receive any portion of [husband’s] military retirement benefits[,] then she is awarded one-half (1/2) of those benefits earned during the parties’ marriage.” After husband retired from military service in December 2014, wife filed a petition on February 20, 2015 to reopen the divorce judgment. She sought one-half of husband’s military retirement that had accrued during their marriage. The trial court granted wife’s petition, holding that Judge Stanley awarded wife a portion of husband’s military retirement benefits. Husband appeals, arguing that wife is not entitled to a portion of his benefits because she is only eligible to receive the benefits under federal law and does not have a right to them. We hold that the trial court correctly concluded that the original trial judge intended to award wife onehalf of husband’s military retirement that accrued during their marriage. Accordingly, we affirm.

Washington County Court of Appeals 10/11/17
Jesus Vidal Rodriguez, et al. v. Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC, et al.
M2013-01970-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Brothers

This is an appeal from a jury verdict in favor of the defendants in a products liability action arising out of a deadly vehicle crash in Mexico. The accident was allegedly caused by a separation of the tire tread and resulting blow-out and vehicle rollover. The decedent’s son, daughter, and mother brought suit against the manufacturers of the tire and SUV. The case went to trial, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendants. Plaintiffs appeal an instruction the court gave the jury on contributory negligence and several evidentiary rulings. Finding no reversible error, we affirm the judgment.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/10/17
Gary Wayne Garrett v. Tennessee Board of Parole
M2016-01738-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman

This appeal involves an incarcerated inmate’s filing of a petition for writ of certiorari, claiming that the Tennessee Board of Parole acted arbitrarily and without material evidence in denying his request for parole. The respondent filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that the time for filing such a petition had passed. The trial court dismissed the petition as untimely. The petitioner appeals. We reverse and remand for further hearing.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 10/10/17