Court Opinions

Format: 01/25/2020
Format: 01/25/2020
Battery Alliance, Inc. v. Clinton Beiter, et al.
W2018-02117-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Samual Weiss

Defendants appeal the trial court’s denial of its motion for relief from a default judgment. In support of its motion, defendants raised three grounds: (1) that the judgment was void due to improper service of process; (2) that the judgment was void due to improper notice related to the motion for default judgment; and (3) the judgment should be set aside due to mistake, inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect. A thorough review of the record indicates that the trial court exercised its independent judgment to adjudicate only the first of the three grounds alleged. As such, we vacate the denial of the motion and remand for consideration of the remaining grounds.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/19/19
Jonathan M. Thomas v. Kevin Millen
W2019-00086-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Russell

Tenant appeals the dismissal of his appeal from general sessions court for failure to post a bond constituting one year’s rent. Because the posting of a bond constituting one year’s rent is non-jurisdictional, we reverse.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/19/19
Todd Goldman v. Nicole Griffin
M2019-00138-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: M2019-00138-COA-R3-CV

This is a consolidated appeal concerning the trial court’s dismissal of two orders of protection in this domestic relations action.  We affirm. 

Davidson County Court of Appeals 12/18/19
Lonnie Lee Angel, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
E2018-01551-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

The Petitioner, Lonnie Lee Angel, Jr., appeals the Bledsoe County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2011 conviction for second degree murder and his twenty-three-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that (1) he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel and (2) the post-conviction court erred by prohibiting him from compelling the attendance of witnesses by subpoenas at the evidentiary hearing. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Bledsoe County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/18/19
Timothy Rosebrough v. Karen Caldwell f/k/a Karen Rosebrough
W2018-01168-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge William B. Acree

In this post-divorce custody action, the mother filed a motion seeking to modify the permanent parenting plan to designate her the primary residential parent. During trial, the parents requested that the Trial Court modify the residential parenting schedule. Following trial, the Trial Court entered an order denying the mother’s request to be designated primary residential parent but granting the parties’ request to modify the parenting schedule. Most of the Trial Court’s order consisted of its detailed recitation of the testimony presented during trial, without finding which testimony was credible or otherwise making sufficient findings of fact regarding the evidence presented to support its ruling as to changing the primary residential parent. As such, we find and hold that the March 9, 2018 order does not comply with Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 52.01 by including sufficient findings of fact concerning the mother’s motion to modify the permanent parenting plan to designate her the primary residential parent. We, therefore, vacate that portion of the Trial Court’s judgment and remand for the Trial Court to make sufficient findings of fact and conclusions of law in compliance with Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 52.01. Because the Trial Court did make sufficient findings of fact as to the parenting schedule and it was not raised as an issue on appeal, the Trial Court’s judgment regarding modification of the residential parenting schedule is affirmed.

Madison County Court of Appeals 12/18/19
Ritchie Phillips Et Al. v. Mark Hatfield
E2019-00628-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor E. G. Moody

In this declaratory judgment action involving neighboring landowners in a residential development, the trial court determined that the restrictive covenants applicable to the development would prevent the defendant from constructing a commercial business on his property. The trial court accordingly entered an injunction preventing the defendant from constructing a business on his real property. The defendant has appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Sullivan County Court of Appeals 12/18/19
State of Tennessee v. Robert Beham
W2018-01974-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn Wade Blackett

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Robert Beham, as charged of rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery, and the trial court imposed an effective sentence of forty years at one hundred percent. On appeal, the Defendant argues (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal and the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions, and (2) the trial court abused its discretion in applying the enhancement factor regarding his history of criminal behavior. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/18/19
Jimmy Wayne Helton v. Earl Lawson
E2018-02119-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Beth Boniface

The plaintiff sued the defendant for negligence after he was injured in a construction accident on the defendant’s property. The defendant claimed that he was not the employer of the plaintiff. Following a trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant and awarded the plaintiff no damages. The plaintiff appeals. We reverse the jury’s verdict only as to damages.

Hawkins County Court of Appeals 12/18/19
Lisa Priestas, et al. v. Kia Properties, LLC, et al.
W2019-00728-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Samual Weiss

In this premises liability case, Mr. Priestas, an independent contractor, filed suit against Appellees, the owner/landlord and lessee of a convenience store, seeking damages for injuries he sustained during an attempted robbery at the store. The trial court granted Appellees’ motion for summary judgment, finding that: (1) the lessee did not breach its duty because: (a) Mr. Priestas was an independent contractor; (b) he was aware of the danger at the store; and (c) he was warned that the store had been robbed on several occasions; and (2) the owner/landlord was not liable because of the general rule of non-liability of a landlord for harm caused to a third party on leased premises. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/18/19
Catrice Thomas Dye v. Willie B. Dye, Jr.
W2019-02011-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor JoeDae L. Jenkins

The issue in this Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B interlocutory appeal is whether the trial court erred in denying a mother’s motion for recusal based upon alleged bias due to the court’s prior employment of and actions by the guardian ad litem. We find no error in the trial court’s ruling.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/18/19
Donna Felecia Watson v. Quince Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, LLC, et al.
W2019-00261-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gina C. Higgins

This is an appeal from the trial court’s denial of a motion to compel arbitration. The subject arbitration agreement was executed in connection with a patient’s admission to a nursing home facility and signed by the patient’s son. The trial court found that the son lacked authority to bind his mother to the agreement. For the following reasons, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/17/19
Frederick R. Ross, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2019-01117-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

Petitioner, Frederick R. Ross, Jr., appeals from the summary denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging his guilty-pleaded conviction for selling hydrocodone, a Schedule II drug. Because Petitioner failed to state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/17/19
Linda L. Rozen, et al. v. Wolff Ardis, PC
W2019-00396-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Valerie L. Smith

Appellants filed a legal malpractice action against their former law firm after two civil judgments were not renewed after a ten-year period. After a bench trial, the trial court ruled that the appellants’ claim was filed beyond the statute of limitations. The trial court also found that no attorney-client relationship existed to impose a duty on the law firm to renew the civil judgments before they expired. We find no reversible error in the trial court’s ruling regarding the statute of limitations. As such, we affirm the decision of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/17/19
State of Tennessee v. Michael Wayne Robinson, Jr.
W2019-00216-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

A Madison County jury convicted the defendant, Michael Wayne Robinson, Jr., of three counts of aggravated assault, one count of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed an effective sentence of eighteen years in confinement. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his convictions and the trial court’s imposition of consecutive sentencing. After reviewing the record and considering the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/16/19
Bryon C. Stephens v. State of Tennessee
W2018-00895-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Petitioner, Bryon C. Stephens, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief, asserting that he is entitled to relief because his guilty pleas were unknowingly entered, and he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm dismissal of the petition as time-barred.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/16/19
Bonnie R. Lovell v. Warren County, Tennessee
M2019-00582-COA-r3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry R. Tidwell

A woman was incarcerated after being arrested and charged with several crimes.  Prior to trial, the charges against her were dropped and she was released.  Within a year of her release, the woman filed a claim against the county for false imprisonment.  The county moved for summary judgment, asserting that the complaint was barred by the one-year statute of limitations.  The trial court granted the county’s motion and the woman appealed.  We reverse the trial court’s judgment and hold that the statute of limitations for false imprisonment claims does not begin to run until the imprisonment ends.

Warren County Court of Appeals 12/16/19
Dora Nesbitt Jones v. Allenbrooke Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, LLC
W2019-00448-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Samual Weiss

This appeal involves an arbitration agreement executed in connection with a nursing home admission. At the time of admission, Appellee, daughter of the resident, signed the admission contract and separate voluntary arbitration agreement on behalf of her mother. Appellee later sued the nursing home, on behalf of her mother, for injuries sustained in a fall, and the nursing home sought to enforce the arbitration agreement signed by Appellee. The trial court denied Appellant’s motion to compel arbitration, finding that Appellee lacked authority, under the power of attorney, to bind her mother to the agreement. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/16/19
Scott Foltz v. Barnhart Crane and Rigging Company
W2018-02198-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Valerie L. Smith

Appellant/employee brought this retaliatory discharge case against Appellee, his former employer. Appellant alleged that he was fired in retaliation for claiming workers’ compensation benefits. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer, finding that Appellant failed to meet his burden to show a causal connection between the filing of his workers’ compensation claim and the termination of his employment. In the alternative, the trial court found that Appellee provided legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for its decision to terminate Appellant’s employment, and Appellant failed to meet his burden to show that the proffered reasons were pretext. Discerning no error, we affirm and remand.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/16/19
Shelby County, Tennessee v. Gary Morris, Jr., et al.
W2019-00049-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor JoeDae L. Jenkins

This appeal arises from Shelby County’s decision to terminate Appellee’s employment for non-compliance with the County’s residency requirement. The Civil Service Merit Board (“CSMB”) reversed the termination of Appellee’s employment and reinstated him with back pay. On appeal, the Shelby County Chancery Court affirmed the CSMB’s ruling. Finding no error, we affirm the decision of the Chancery Court.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/16/19
Porscha J. Medaries v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01656-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Petitioner, Porscha J. Medaries, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of her petition for post-conviction relief in which she challenged her conviction for attempted first degree murder. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that she received ineffective assistance of counsel and that her guilty plea was not knowingly entered. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/16/19
Chris Schaeffer v. Amanda Patterson
W2018-02097-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Special Judge David S. Walker

Father appeals the trial court’s decision allowing Mother to relocate with the parties’ daughter from the Memphis area to Blytheville, Arkansas. Father also appeals the trial court’s award of attorney’s fees to Mother. Applying the amended version of Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-6-108 based on the parties’ stipulation, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that relocation was in the child’s best interest. We also affirm the trial court’s award of attorney’s fees but decline to award attorney’s fees on appeal.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 12/13/19
Dominique Clarke v. Kymberly Ash
M2019-00217-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tim Barnes

This appeal involves a petition for contempt and to modify a permanent parenting plan.  Having carefully reviewed the record before us, we conclude that the notice of appeal was not timely filed.  Because the notice of appeal was untimely, we dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 12/13/19
Wheeler Bonding Co., Inc. v. 1st Stop Bonding LLC, Et Al.
M2019-00064-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins

Following a nonsuit by the original plaintiff, one of the original defendants was granted a default judgment with respect to his counterclaim.  The original plaintiff thereafter moved to set the default judgment aside after the entry of final judgment, and later, attempted to re-file its previously nonsuited claims.  After the trial court denied the motion to set aside and entered an order striking the original plaintiff’s re-filed claims, this appeal followed.  We reverse the denial of the motion to set aside and vacate the default judgment. The striking of the re-filed claims is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 12/13/19
Betty Caitlin Nicole Smith v. Zachary Taylor Daniel
M2019-02083-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Christopher V. Sockwell

This is an appeal from the denial of a motion for recusal.  After carefully reviewing the record provided by the pro se appellant, we affirm the decision of the trial court denying the motion for recusal. 

Maury County Court of Appeals 12/13/19
State of Tennessee v. Buford Trammell
E2018-00382-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant, Buford Trammell, of six counts of rape, three counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, one count of solicitation of a minor, one count of casual exchange of a controlled substance, and one count of sexual battery by an authority figure. After merging the appropriate convictions, the trial court ordered an effective sentence of twenty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that there is insufficient evidence to sustain the jury’s verdict and that the trial court erred when it imposed consecutive sentences. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/13/19