Court Opinions

Format: 10/22/2019
Format: 10/22/2019
Alan Cartee v. Dale Morris, Et Al.
M2018-02272-COA-R9-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amanda J. McClendon

The plaintiff filed a premises liability action against a premises owner alleging that the premises owner was liable for injuries the plaintiff sustained after falling down a staircase located on the premises owner’s property. The trial court denied the premises owner’s motion for summary judgment but granted permission to pursue an interlocutory appeal. Because the plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence of an essential element of his claim, we reverse the decision of the trial court.  

Davidson County Court of Appeals 09/06/19
Jeremy Ash v. Jaclyn Ash
M2018-00901-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Phillip R. Robinson

This appeal arises from a post-divorce dispute over child custody wherein the father filed a petition to modify the permanent parenting plan. Following a hearing in October 2017, the Trial Court found that a material change in circumstance existed and implemented a temporary parenting plan, determining that plan to be in the child’s best interest. Thereafter in April 2018, the Trial Court converted that temporary parenting plan into a permanent parenting plan upon its determination that the temporary plan appeared to be working satisfactorily. Mother appeals to this Court. Because the Trial Court did not conduct a best interest analysis or make the required statutory finding of best interest, we vacate the April 2018 judgment of the Trial Court and remand for further proceedings as necessary. We affirm the Trial Court in all other respects.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 09/06/19
Twenty Holdings, LLC v. Land South TN, LLC and Brandon Majors
M2018-01903-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Hamilton V. Gayden, Jr.

Plaintiff sued defendant-company and its employee for damages to its real property when the defendant-company’s tractor-trailer collided with the plaintiff’s residential properties while the truck was unmanned. The plaintiff raised claims of negligence, gross negligence, recklessness, trespass, negligent hiring, negligent entrustment, and punitive damages. A jury trial occurred, and the trial court granted the defendants’ motion for a directed verdict as to all but the plaintiff’s negligence claim. The jury later awarded the plaintiff $185,000.00 for the diminution in value to the real property. Both parties appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 09/05/19
Steven Padgett King v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00652-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

Petitioner, Steven Padgett King, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief, in which he sought application of the rule announced in Ward v. State, 315 S.W.3d 461 (Tenn. 2010). We reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand to the post-conviction court for a new evidentiary hearing to determine whether Petitioner is entitled to relief pursuant to Ward.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/05/19
Horizon Trades, Inc. v. Aubrey Givens, Et Al.
M2019-00323-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge William B. Acree

This is an appeal from an order dismissing the plaintiff’s complaint as to one of two defendants. Because the order appealed does not dispose of all the plaintiff’s claims, we dismiss the appeal for lack of a final judgment.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 09/05/19
Jessica Hartmann v. Brian Hartmann
M2018-00891-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ted A. Crozier

This is an appeal in a proceeding to modify an agreed parenting plan, which was incorporated into a decree when Mother and Father finalized their divorce in Arizona in 2016. Prior to the entry of the decree, the Mother and their three minor children moved to Montgomery County, Tennessee, with Father’s consent when he obtained temporary employment in Kuwait. The agreed parenting plan provided that by July 15, 2017, Mother, Father, and the children would relocate to a mutually agreed upon location or, in the event a location could not be agreed upon, to either Raleigh, North Carolina, Norfolk, Virginia, or Augusta, Georgia. Upon his return from Kuwait in June 2017, Father moved to Augusta, Georgia. Mother petitioned the Circuit Court of Montgomery County to modify custody in October 2017; Father counter-petitioned for contempt and enforcement of the Arizona decree. After a hearing, the court enrolled the Arizona decree, found that there was a material change of circumstance requiring modification of the decree, adopted a parenting plan submitted by Mother, and modified Father’s child support. Father appeals; upon our review we have determined that the evidence does not support the court’s a finding of a material change of circumstance. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment and remand the case for entry of an order that the children be relocated in accordance with the final decree.  

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 09/04/19
Reginald Lamon Goldsmith v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01814-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

The Petitioner, Reginald Lamon Goldsmith, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the post-conviction court abused its discretion in failing to appoint post-conviction counsel and summarily dismissing the petition. Following our review, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition as time-barred and conclude that the Petitioner has waived his due process claim.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/04/19
In Re Janiyah J. Et Al.
E2018-02006-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert D. Philyaw

This action involves the termination of a father’s parental rights to his minor children. Following a bench trial, the trial court found that clear and convincing evidence existed to support the statutory ground of severe child abuse and that termination was in the best interest of the children. We affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 09/04/19
Stephny Young, et al. v. Paxton V. Dickson, M.D.
W2019-01442-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rhynette N. Hurd

A Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B petition for recusal appeal was filed in this Court after the trial court denied a motion for recusal. For the reasons stated herein, we reverse the trial court’s denial of the motion and remand the case for reassignment to a different judge.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 09/03/19
State of Tennessee v. Raymond Watison
W2018-00552-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The defendant, Raymond Watison, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury conviction of first degree premeditated murder, claiming that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress the statements he gave to the police following his arrest, that the trial court erred by admitting certain testimony in violation of evidence rule 404(b), that the trial court erred by permitting the State to admit the defendant’s statements as rebuttal evidence, that the State knowingly presented false testimony, that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, that the prosecutor impermissibly misled the jury during closing argument, and that the cumulative effect of the errors deprived him of a fair trial. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
Teresa Adams v. Rich Products Corporation
W2018-00288-SC-R3-WC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert E. Lee Davise
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joedae Jenkins

Teresa Adams (“Employee”), a general laborer at Rich Products Corporation (“Employer”) developed carpel tunnel syndrome in both hands. After two separate surgeries, Employee developed bilateral hand stiffness and deformity of her fingers. Due to the disparity between the impairment ratings assigned by her treating physician and the Independent Medical Examination (“IME”) physician, Employer sought review through the Medical Impairment Rating Registry (MIR) program. The MIR physician opined that Employee suffered from inflammatory arthritis unrelated to her employment. The IME physician disagreed with the MIR physician’s impairment rating and diagnosed Employee with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (“CRPS”). The trial court found that Employee rebutted the presumed accuracy of the MIR physician’s impairment rating by clear and convincing evidence. Employer has appealed alleging that the accurate impairment rating presumption was not rebutted. 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 pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 51. We affirm the judgment.

Shelby County Workers Compensation Panel 08/30/19
Dantario Burgess v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01707-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Petitioner, Dantario Burgess, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding that he received effective assistance of trial counsel. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
Glenn A. Stark v. Jana A. Burks
W2018-01283-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andrew Brigham

In this action concerning enforcement or modification of a permanent parenting plan, the trial court analyzed the issues in accordance with the provisions of Tennessee Code Annotated Title 36 concerning child custody matters, rather than Title 37, involving dependency and neglect proceedings. Following the trial court’s modification of the parties’ permanent parenting plan, the father filed post-trial motions seeking the appointment of a guardian ad litem and entry of an order providing for joint counseling sessions with the father and the child. The trial court denied these motions and awarded the mother attorney’s fees as the prevailing party pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-5-103(c). The father has appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Henry County Court of Appeals 08/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Rashida Tyquisha Groomster
M2018-00579-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

A Davidson County Jury in Case No. 2017-C-1591 convicted Defendant, Rashida Tyquisha Groomster, of theft of property over $1,000 in value. She also pled guilty to theft of property less than $1,000 in value in Case No. 2017-B-1407. The trial court initially imposed an effective one-year sentence to be served in confinement. However, an amended judgment was subsequently entered indicating that Defendant was to serve her effective one-year sentence on community corrections. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support her conviction for theft of property over $1,000 in value, that the trial court improperly denied her request for judicial diversion, and the trial court erred by denying alternative sentencing. After a careful review of the record, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Dominique Alexander Booker
E2018-00777-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

In 2017, the Defendant, Dominque Alexander Booker, pleaded guilty to three counts in two separate cases, and the trial court sentenced him to a probationary sentence. In 2018, the Defendant’s probation officer filed a probation violation warrant alleging that the Defendant had violated his probation by committing assault and vandalism and by not notifying his probation officer of the new offenses. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation sentences for both cases. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it admitted into evidence the police officer’s recount of the victim’s statements about the assault as an excited utterance over the Defendant’s hearsay objection. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
Devin Whiteside v. State of Tennessee
W2018-02051-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

The petitioner, Devin Whiteside, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his guilty-pleaded convictions of aggravated robbery, alleging that his guilty pleas were invalid because he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Raymon Muhammad
W2018-02141-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The defendant, Raymon Muhammad, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury conviction of first degree murder, challenging the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Erik Standback
W2018-01804-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Erik Standback, of attempted second degree murder, aggravated assault, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and reckless endangerment. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of eighteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
Ronnie Ingram v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01875-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The petitioner, Ronnie Ingram, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received the effective assistance of counsel at trial and on appeal. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
Samuel Winkfield v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01873-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Petitioner, Samuel Winkfield, appeals the Madison County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis from his second degree murder and tampering with evidence convictions, for which he received an effective sentence of twenty-five years. We affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Douglas Wayne Jackson
M2017-01528-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

A Montgomery County Grand Jury indicted the Defendant with second degree murder (count one), vehicular homicide (count two), aggravated assault (count three), failure to complete boating safety certification (count four), and operating a motorboat without a valid identification number (count five). Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Defendant entered a guilty plea to reckless homicide, a lesser included offense of second degree murder (count one). The plea agreement further provided that the Defendant plead guilty as a Range II, multiple offender pursuant to Hicks v. State, 945 S.W.2d 706, 709 (Tenn. 1997) (holding that a knowing and voluntary guilty plea waives any irregularity as to offender classification or release eligibility), with the trial court to determine the length and manner of service of his sentence. In exchange for the Defendant’s plea of guilty, the State agreed to dismiss the remaining counts in the indictment. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a sentence of five-years’ imprisonment. Ten days later, the Defendant filed a motion to modify his sentence pursuant to Rule 35 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure. Following a second hearing, the trial court denied relief and imposed the same sentence. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in sentencing the Defendant and in failing to grant his Rule 35 motion to modify the sentence. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Clarence Reed Julian
E2019-00074-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

Defendant, Clarence Reed Julian, pled guilty to criminal simulation in exchange for a sentence of two years as a Range II, multiple offender with the manner of service of the sentence to be determined after a sentencing hearing. At the hearing, the trial court denied an alternative sentence, ordering Defendant to serve the sentence in incarceration. Defendant appeals. After a review, we determine there is a clerical error in the judgment form. The judgment form wrongly designates Defendant as a Range I, standard offender and the technical record indicates that Defendant, as a Range I offender, has already received the benefit of Determinate Release from the Department of Correction. We remand for entry of a corrected judgment form, designating Defendant as a Range II, multiple offender, requiring Defendant to complete his sentence as such an offender. Otherwise, we affirm the trial court’s denial of alternative sentencing.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
In Re Chivon G.
E2018-02012-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy E. Irwin

This is a termination of parental rights case, focusing on the minor child of the mother/appellant. The child was placed in the legal custody of the petitioner/appellee on November 8, 2016, based upon the trial court’s finding that the child was dependent and neglected while in the mother’s care. On June 7, 2018, the petitioner filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of the mother. Following a bench trial, the trial court found that statutory grounds existed to terminate the parental rights of the mother upon its finding by clear and convincing evidence that (1) the mother had abandoned the child by willfully failing to provide financial support and (2) the conditions leading to the child’s removal from the mother’s home persisted. The court further found by clear and convincing evidence that termination of the mother’s parental rights was in the child’s best interest. The mother has appealed. Having determined that the statutory ground of persistence of the conditions leading to removal was not proven by clear and convincing evidence, we reverse the trial court’s finding as to this ground. We affirm the trial court’s judgment in all other respects, including the termination of the mother’s parental rights to the child.

Knox County Court of Appeals 08/30/19
Nina Villalba Et Al. v. Ciara McCown
E2018-01433-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle E. Hedrick

In this personal injury action arising from an automobile accident, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant upon finding that the plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate service of process in the originally filed action, which had been dismissed, such that the plaintiffs’ refiled action was barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The plaintiffs have appealed. Having determined that, pursuant to the version of Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 4.04(11) in effect at the time that the initial complaint was filed, the plaintiffs demonstrated valid service of process of the initial complaint, we reverse the grant of summary judgment to the defendant and grant partial summary judgment to the plaintiffs concerning the affirmative defenses of ineffective service of process and expiration of the statute of limitations. We remand this action for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 08/30/19
In Re Matasia R. Et Al.
E2018-01834-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Janice Hope Snider

This action involves the termination of a father’s parental rights to his minor children. Following a bench trial, the trial court found that clear and convincing evidence existed to support the statutory ground of abandonment by an incarcerated parent. The court further found that termination was in the best interest of the children. We affirm.

Hamblen County Court of Appeals 08/30/19