Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 08/22/2019
Format: 08/22/2019
Marilyn Kay Anderson v. James Cephas Anderson
M2018-01248-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from a divorce. All the issues pertain to the classification, valuation, and equitable division of three large tracts of land. Husband acquired two of the tracts before the marriage: a 197-acre tract and a 103-acre tract. Both of these tracts were used in Husband’s farming operation before and during the marriage. During the marriage, Husband and Wife built their marital residence on a portion of the 197-acre tract. Husband acquired the third tract during the marriage but after the parties separated. Wife’s name is not on any of the deeds. Wife contends that the tracts Husband owned prior to the marriage transmuted into marital property. Alternatively, she contends their appreciation in value during the marriage was marital property. Wife also contends the third tract was marital property because Husband purchased it with marital funds from their joint bank account during the marriage. The trial court classified the 197-acre tract and the 103-acre tract as Husband’s separate property and held that none of the land transmuted into marital property. The trial court also concluded that Wife was not entitled to an interest in the appreciation of the properties because she did not substantially contribute to their maintenance or increase in value. The trial court classified the marital residence—that being the improvement but not any of the land associated with the marital residence—as marital property. As for the tract Husband acquired during the marriage, the court ruled that it was Husband’s separate property because Husband purchased it with his separate funds. This appeal followed. Based on the parties’ treatment and use of some of the 197-acre tract on Highland Road as their marital residence, it is evident that the parties intended for some portion of the land to transmute into marital property. Therefore, we reverse the trial court’s determination that the entire 197-acre tract remained Husband’s separate property and remand for the trial court to identify that portion of the land the parties treated and used as part of their marital residence, classify that land as marital property, and determine its value. Based on this change of classification, the trial court should also consider whether the change in value necessitates a revision of the equitable division of the marital estate and, if so, enter judgment accordingly. In all other respects, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Robertson County Court of Appeals 08/16/19
Eric Dubuclet v. Tennessee Department of Human Services
M2018-01309-COA-R3-CV

The Tennessee Department of Human Services denied Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to a two-person household based upon its determination that the household’s income exceeded the eligibility requirements.  After a final order was entered by the Department, the household petitioned the Chancery Court of Davidson County for review pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 4-5-322.  The Chancellor affirmed the decision of the agency and dismissed the petition for judicial review; the household appeals the decision.  Upon our review, we affirm, finding that the Department’s decision was not in violation of constitutional or statutory provisions, arbitrary or capricious, in excess of statutory authority, made upon unlawful procedure, or unsupported by substantial and material evidence.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 08/16/19
Natchez Trace Youth Acadamy Et Al v. Christopher Tidwell
M2018-01311-SC-R3-WC

Christopher Tidwell (“Employee”) suffered facial injuries during the course of his employment at Natchez Trace Youth Academy (“Employer”) while restraining a resident during an altercation. Employee filed this workers’ compensation claim alleging both physical and psychological injuries resulting from the incident. After a trial, the court concluded Employee did not make a meaningful return to work and awarded benefits for physical and psychological injuries, using a 4.85 multiplier. Employer has appealed, claiming the trial court erred in concluding Employee failed to make a meaningful return to work; in awarding additional temporary benefits; in determining Employee suffered a compensable psychological injury; and in awarding certain discretionary costs. 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 trial court’s award of benefits beyond the statutory 1.5 cap, additional temporary benefits, and its finding of psychological injury. We reverse the award of certain discretionary costs.

Humphreys County Workers Compensation Panel 08/16/19
Carol Nolan v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., ET AL.
W2018-01382-SC-R3-WC

Carol Nolan (“Employee”) was employed by Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company (“Employer”). The trial court found that Employee was permanently and totally disabled following work-related injuries to her back and knees in April 2011. The trial court apportioned 85% liability of the award to Employer and 15% to the Tennessee Second Injury Fund. Employer has appealed the trial court’s finding that Employee is permanently and totally disabled and the apportionment of liability for permanent and total disability benefits. Employer’s appeal has been referred to this 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. After review, we conclude that the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s decision. Therefore, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Obion County Workers Compensation Panel 08/16/19
State of Tennessee v. Karen Sarah Thomas, Alias
E2018-00353-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Karen Sarah Thomas, alias, appeals her jury convictions for aggravated stalking. In this direct appeal, the Defendant alleges that the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions and that the trial court erred when it allowed the State to introduce evidence of an out-of-courtroom event that took place during the trial. Following our review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/19
State of Tennessee v. Quincy D. Scott
E2018-02271-CCA-R3-CD

The Appellant, Quincy D. Scott, appeals as of right from the Bradley County Criminal Court’s judgment revoking his probation. The State has filed a motion to affirm by memorandum opinion the judgment of the trial court. Following our review, we conclude that an opinion in this case would have no precedential value and affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/19
State of Tennessee v. Krysten Renae Glover
M2018-01410-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Krysten Renae Glover, entered an open guilty plea to one count of the sale of 0.5 grams or more of methamphetamine and one count of the sale of methamphetamine in an amount less than 0.5 grams. The trial court held a sentencing hearing and imposed an effective nine-year sentence to be served in confinement. The Defendant appeals, arguing that the trial court erred by denying her probation. We conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing, and we affirm the judgments.

Wayne County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/19
Nicole Pamblanco v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01260-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Nicole Pamblanco, appeals the Montgomery County Circuit Court’s denial of her petition for post-conviction relief from her convictions of aggravated child neglect, a Class A felony, and reckless homicide, a Class E felony, and effective sentence of fifteen years. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that she received the ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel failed to call a psychologist who had evaluated her and prepared a report to testify on her behalf. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/19
Sedrick Darion Mitchell v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00975-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Sedrick Darion Mitchell, appeals from the Bedford County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that his trial counsel was ineffective for not challenging the validity of the indictment. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post conviction court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/19
State of Tennessee v. Benjamin Foust
E2017-02420-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Benjamin Foust, was convicted of ten counts of felony murder, two counts of first degree premeditated murder, four counts of especially aggravated robbery, two counts of aggravated arson, and two counts of possession of a firearm while having a prior felony conviction involving the use of violence or force. The trial court’s merger of the various convictions resulted in two felony murder convictions, two especially aggravated robbery convictions, one aggravated arson conviction, and one firearm conviction. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of two consecutive terms of life imprisonment plus 105 years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the trial court erred in failing to grant the Defendant’s motion to sever or bifurcate the firearm charges; (3) the trial court erred in admitting evidence of the Defendant’s drug use; (4) the trial court improperly admitted several autopsy photographs; (5) the trial court provided an improper answer to a question from the jury posed during deliberations; and (6) the trial court erred in sentencing the Defendant. We conclude that the trial court erred in ordering the parties to stipulate to the Defendant’s prior felony convictions and that the error was not harmless as to the firearm convictions. Accordingly, we reverse the Defendant’s firearm convictions and remand for a new trial as to those convictions. We otherwise affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/19
Javonte Thomas v. State of Tennessee
W2018-02171-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Javonte Thomas, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his conviction of first degree premeditated murder, alleging that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/19
Carl Loverson v. State of Tennessee
W2018-00694-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Carl Loverson, filed a pro se “Petition for Post-Conviction Relief and/or Petition for Clerical Error, Ommission [sic] in Records,” alleging that, contrary to the trial court’s order, he was transported to the Tennessee Department of Correction instead of being released into a drug program. The post-conviction court summarily dismissed the petition as untimely and for failure to state a colorable claim for relief. The Petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/19
In Re Estate of Rickie Charles Vaughn
W2018-01600-COA-R3-CV

An alleged child of the decedent sought to establish paternity and thereby inherit through intestate succession. The probate court concluded that the child should be excluded as an heir as a result of his failure to timely assert a claim. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 08/14/19
In Re Estate of Rickie Charles Vaughn - Dissenting in part
W2018-01600-COA-R3-CV

I must respectfully dissent from the majority’s decision that Appellant’s April 12, 2018, post-judgment motion should be treated as a Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 59.04 motion to alter or amend the judgment so as to extend the time for filing his notice of appeal under Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(b).

Shelby County Court of Appeals 08/14/19
Milan Suppy Chain Solutions, Inc. f/k/a Milan Express, Inc. v. Navistar, Inc., et al.
W2018-00084-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves a jury verdict in a commercial dispute pertaining to the quality of trucks purchased by the plaintiff, Milan Supply Chain Solutions, Inc. Contending that the purchased trucks were defective, Milan filed suit against Navistar, Inc. and Volunteer International, Inc., alleging various legal claims, including breach of contract, violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, and fraud. Although some of Milan’s claims were dismissed prior to trial, the remaining fraud and Tennessee Consumer Protection Act claims were tried before a jury. Defendant Volunteer International, Inc. was granted a directed verdict upon the conclusion of Milan’s proof and later awarded attorney’s fees, but a monetary judgment for both compensatory and punitive damages was entered against Navistar, Inc. The parties now appeal, raising a plethora of issues for our consideration. For the reasons stated herein, including our conclusion that the asserted fraud claims are barred by the economic loss doctrine, we reverse the judgment awarded to Milan. We affirm, however, the trial court’s award of attorney’s fees in favor of Volunteer International, Inc.

Madison County Court of Appeals 08/14/19
In Re C.M. Et Al.
E2018-02108-COA-R3-PT

M.O. (mother) and K.M. (father) appeal from the trial court’s order terminating their parental rights with respect to C.M. and M.M. (the children). The court determined that clear and convincing evidence supported multiple grounds for terminating mother and father’s parental rights. By the same quantum of proof, the court determined that termination is in the best interest of the children. We affirm.

Sevier County Court of Appeals 08/14/19
Anthony Leslie v. State of Tennessee, et al.
M2018-00856-CCA-R3-HC

Petitioner, Anthony Leslie, appeals from the dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus relief. Petitioner alleged that an amended judgment of the Davidson County Criminal Court adding a provision requiring community supervision for life is void because it was entered after his sentence had expired. Upon consideration of the record and the applicable authorities, we reverse the judgment of the habeas corpus court and grant habeas corpus relief to Petitioner. The amended judgment of the Davidson County Criminal Court is vacated, and Petitioner shall not be subject to community supervision for life in Davidson County Criminal Court case number 99-D-2865.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/14/19
James Ellison Rouse v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00926-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, James Ellison Rouse, appeals the Maury County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his two convictions of first degree murder and two convictions of attempted first degree murder and resulting effective sentence of two terms of life without the possibility of parole plus forty-two years. The post-conviction court ruled that the petition was time-barred. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that his petition was timely because he filed it within one year of Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S. Ct. 718 (2016), and Jacob Brown v. State, No. W2015-00887-CCA-R3-PC, 2016 WL 1562981 (Tenn. Crim. App. at Jackson, Apr. 15, 2016). Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/14/19
Corey Bunton v. Sanderson Pipe Corp. Et Al.
M2018-01028-SC-R3-WC

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. This case arises out of an injury sustained by Corey Bunton (“Employee”) while working at Sanderson Pipe Corporation (“Employer”).  Employee’s hand became trapped in a beller machine which resulted in Employee losing a finger and sustaining permanent damage to his hand.  Employee claimed he turned the machine off prior to placing his hand into the machine to clean a pipe.  However, Employer presented evidence challenging Employee’s claim that he turned off the machine.  Employer argued by failing to turn off the machine, Employee committed willful misconduct which barred any recovery.  The trial court found Employee did not turn off the machine and therefore committed willful misconduct.  Employee appealed arguing the trial court erred in its willful misconduct analysis.  Employer also cross-appealed arguing that Tennessee Compilation Rules and Regulations 0800-02-21-.7 (2016) is unconstitutional. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Workers Compensation Panel 08/14/19
State of Tennessee v. Anton Carlton
M2018-01474-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Anton Carlton, appeals the summary denial of his “Motion for An Amendment of the Judgment to Correct a Clerical Error.” He argues (1) the trial court abused its discretion when it determined that the corrected judgment of conviction entered on April 9, 2012, did not contain an oversight or omission, and (2) the corrected judgments of conviction entered on October 22, 2018, resulted in a material breach of his negotiated plea agreement. We affirm the judgment of the trial court but remand the case for entry of corrected judgment forms in Counts 6, 7, and 8 and for entry of an amended order of dismissal, wherein Counts 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, and 10 are dismissed.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/14/19
Roosevelt Bigbee, Jr. v. Jonathan Lebo, Warden
W2019-00051-CCA-R3-HC

The pro se Petitioner, Roosevelt Bigbee, Jr., appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. Following our review, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition for failure to state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/14/19
State of Tennessee v. James R. Wilson
M2019-00369-CCA-R3-CD

James R. Wilson, Defendant, pled guilty to two counts of sale of more than five grams of a Schedule II controlled substance in case number 97-D-2596. Defendant received concurrent sentences of ten years with release eligibility after service of thirty percent of the sentence; Defendant was to serve one year in confinement and the remainder on community corrections. Defendant filed a Rule 36.1 motion and alleged that his sentences were illegal because he did not receive a Momon colloquy or sentencing hearing. The trial court found that the sentences had expired and summarily dismissed the motion for failure to state a colorable claim. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/13/19
Lawrence Wooden v. Club Epic, et al.
W2018-00952-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from the trial court’s denial of relief from an order of dismissal for lack of prosecution. The trial court entered its final order on June 21, 2016. On June 1, 2017, plaintiff electronically filed a motion for relief pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 60.02 due to mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect, but it was rejected and not filed because it did not comply with the e-filing rules of the Circuit Court for the Thirtieth Judicial District. Plaintiff filed a second motion for relief on December 28, 2017. Having determined that plaintiff’s second motion was not timely filed, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 08/12/19
Marlon Cooper v. City of Memphis Civil Service Commission
W2018-01112-COA-R3-CV

A lieutenant with the Memphis Fire Department was terminated after a positive drug test. Although this termination was upheld by the Civil Service Commission, the Shelby County Chancery Court later reversed the termination and ordered that the lieutenant be reinstated to his previous employment. For the reasons stated herein, we reverse.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 08/12/19
Tarence Nelson v. State of Tennessee
W2017-02063-CCA-R3-PC

The petitioner, Tarence Nelson, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received effective assistance of counsel at trial and on appeal. The petitioner argues trial counsel was ineffective for failing to turn over certain firearms to law enforcement for testing, failing to request funds to hire a ballistics expert, and failing to request oral argument on direct appeal. Separately, the petitioner alleges numerous, additional errors of trial counsel amounted to ineffective assistance under the cumulative error doctrine. The petitioner also contends postconviction counsel was ineffective. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/12/19