Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 01/21/2019
Format: 01/21/2019
Joe Butler v. Tennessee Municipal League Risk Management Pool
E2017-01981-SC-R3-WC

Joe Butler (“Employee”) alleged he developed invasive pulmonary aspergillosis due to his exposure to the aspergillus fungus during the course and scope of his employment with the Oneida Water Department (“Employer”).  After a trial, the court concluded Employee failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence his work activities were the proximate cause of his injury.  Employee appeals, arguing the evidence preponderates against the trial court’s findings. 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.  After review, we reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand for further proceedings.

Scott County Workers Compensation Panel 01/16/19
Ken Smith Auto Parts v. Michael F. Thomas
E2018-00928-COA-R3-CV

This appeal concerns whether a circuit court has jurisdiction to consider a post-trial motion once it dismisses an appeal by a defendant from general sessions court for failure to appear. Ken Smith Auto Parts (“Plaintiff”) brought an action against Michael F. Thomas (“Defendant”) in the Hamilton County General Sessions Court (“the General Sessions Court”) and prevailed. Defendant appealed to the Circuit Court for Hamilton County (“the Circuit Court”). Defendant missed trial. The Circuit Court entered an order dismissing his appeal and remanding the case to the General Sessions Court for execution of judgment. Defendant filed a motion pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 59 and 60 seeking relief on the basis that he missed trial because of a traffic jam. The Circuit Court granted Defendant’s motion and vacated the order of dismissal. However, the Circuit Court later concluded that it lost jurisdiction when it dismissed Defendant’s appeal and that its subsequent order was null. Defendant appeals to this Court. We hold that the Circuit Court’s order of dismissal was subject to post-trial motion via the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure, and the Circuit Court retained jurisdiction to consider it. We hold further that the Circuit Court properly exercised its discretion to grant Defendant’s motion. We affirm, in part, and reverse, in part, the judgment of the Circuit Court, and remand for further proceedings.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 01/15/19
Larry Johnson v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00503-CCA-R3-ECN

The Petitioner, Larry Johnson, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis from his 1999 conviction for first degree premeditated murder and his sentence of life imprisonment. The Petitioner contends that the court erred by denying relief. We affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/15/19
In Re: Jayla H.
E2018-00735-COA-R3-PT

Tabatha H. (“Mother”) and James M. (“Father”) appeal the April 5, 2018 order of the Juvenile Court for Bradley County (“the Juvenile Court”) terminating their parental rights to the minor child, Jayla H. (“the Child”). We find and hold that the Juvenile Court did not err in finding that there was clear and convincing evidence of grounds to terminate Mother’s parental rights for abandonment by willful failure to visit pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(1), and that there was clear and convincing evidence that it was in the Child’s best interest for Mother’s parental rights to be terminated. We further find and hold that the Juvenile Court did not err in finding the evidence to be clear and convincing as to grounds to terminate Father’s parental rights for failure to establish paternity pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(9), and clear and convincing that it was in the Child’s best interest for Father’s parental rights to be terminated. We, therefore, affirm.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 01/14/19
Amir Esfandyari v. Tiny's Construction, LLC
M2018-00395-COA-R3-CV

This appeal follows a jury trial in which the plaintiff was awarded a judgment of $9,950 for property damage caused by a construction company while demolishing a neighboring structure. Plaintiff appeals taking issue with, inter alia, the jury’s finding that he was comparatively at fault, the amount of the award, and opposing counsel’s closing argument. Because the plaintiff failed to file a motion for a new trial in the trial court, the plaintiff has waived any issue predicated upon error in “the admission or exclusion of evidence, jury instructions granted or refused, misconduct of jurors, parties or counsel, or other action committed or occurring during the trial of the case[.]” Tenn. R. App. P. 3(e). Moreover, because the plaintiff failed to provide this court with a transcript of the evidence or a proper statement of the evidence relevant to any issue presented for review, this court is precluded from considering the issues. See State v. Ballard, 855 S.W.2d 557, 561 (Tenn. 1993). Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.  

Davidson County Court of Appeals 01/14/19
State of Tennessee v. Jamie C. Moore
E2018-00294-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Jamie C. Moore, appeals his convictions for possession with intent to sell and deliver more than .5 grams of cocaine and possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony. In his appeal, he contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions under a theory of criminal responsibility because he did not benefit from the proceeds of the drug sales. After a review, we conclude that Defendant received a benefit when he received drugs for his personal use. Therefore, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand for entry of a corrected judgment document for Count Two reflecting its merger with Count One.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/14/19
Gregory Webster Et Al. Ex Rel Shakia Webster v. Metropolitan Government Of Nashville And Davidson County, Tennessee, Et Al.
M2018-00106-COA-R3-CV

The parents of a kindergartener filed suit against a metropolitan government for negligence after their child injured her arm at school. The trial court granted the metropolitan government’s motion for summary judgment based upon its finding that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that the metropolitan government breached a duty of care owed to the plaintiffs or that any action or inaction by a metropolitan government employee was the cause in fact or proximate cause of the child’s injuries. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 01/11/19
Fraternal Order Of Police Et Al. v. Metropolitan Government Of Nashville And Davidson County, Tennessee, Et Al.
M2018-01717-COA-R3-CV

The Election Commission of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee used the August 4, 2016 election as the proper election for determining the appropriate number of signatures needed on the petition to hold a referendum on whether to create a police oversight board. Certain individuals and the Fraternal Order of Police (“FOP”) disagreed and sought a writ of certiorari. The trial court agreed with the election commission and affirmed its action. The individuals and the FOP appealed. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 01/11/19
State of Tennessee v. Felicia Graham
E2018-00260-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant-Appellant, Felicia Graham, appeals from the revocation of her supervised probation sentence by the Blount County Circuit Court, arguing that the trial court erred in revoking her probation and ordering her to serve the remainder of her sentence in confinement. Upon review, we affirm.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/11/19
Reginold C. Steed v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00492-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Reginold C. Steed, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, he argues: (1) post-trial counsel provided ineffective assistance in failing to present evidence that the victim allegedly recanted his trial testimony identifying the Petitioner as the perpetrator; (2) the post-conviction court erred in failing to notify him of the date of the post-conviction hearing; and (3) the trial court erred in failing to consider the victim’s alleged recantation during sentencing. We affirm the denial of post-conviction relief. However, we remand the case for entry of a corrected judgment form in Count 2, as specified in this opinion.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/11/19
Lazette Sanders v. State of Tennessee
W2018-00098-CCA-R3-PC

Petitioner, Lazette Sanders, was indicted by the Hardeman County Grand Jury for one count of attempted first degree murder. Petitioner pleaded guilty to the amended charge of attempted second degree murder and received a sentence as a Range I offender of eight years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Petitioner filed a petition seeking postconviction relief, in which she alleged that she received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that her guilty plea was not knowingly and voluntarily entered. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied her petition. Following our review, we dismiss the appeal. The notice of appeal was not timely filed. The State noted this problem in its brief. Petitioner did not file a motion to waive the timely filing of the notice of appeal. Petitioner did not file a reply brief addressing her failure to timely file the notice of appeal. Accordingly, Petitioner has waived consideration of her issues on appeal.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/11/19
Ytockie Fuller v. State of Tennessee
W2018-00518-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Ytockie Fuller, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, in which he challenged his convictions for first degree premeditated murder and possession of a firearm after a felony conviction and his effective sentence of life without the possibility of parole plus eight years. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial due to trial counsel’s failure to: (1) request a limiting instruction regarding an audio recording of the murder; (2) object to the prosecutor’s comments regarding the Petitioner’s silence following his arrest; and (3) object to the prosecutor’s statements regarding the forensic pathologist’s testimony. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/11/19
State of Tennessee v. Jeffery Yates
W2018-00284-CCA-R3-CD

Petitioner, Jeffery Yates, sought correction of a clerical error in his judgment from a 2003 conviction for aggravated robbery. After the trial court corrected the judgment, Petitioner appealed. On appeal, Petitioner alleges that the trial court was without jurisdiction to amend the judgment, that the trial court failed to find the original judgment contained a clerical error, and that the amended judgment is incomplete. We determine that the amended judgment form is incomplete because it does not specify that Petitioner is a Career Offender, and we remand the matter to the trial court for correction of the judgment form. In all other respects, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/11/19
State of Tennessee v. Terrell L. Lawrence
M2018-00576-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Terrell L. Lawrence, appeals the trial court’s summary dismissal of his pro se motion to correct an illegal sentence filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. Having reviewed the record and the briefs of the parties, we conclude that Defendant has failed to state a cognizable claim for relief, and therefore, the trial court did not err in summarily dismissing Defendant’s motion. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/10/19
Joy Littleton Et Al. v. TIS Insurance Services, Inc.
E2018-00477-COA-R3-CV

In this professional negligence case against an insurance agent, Appellants appeal from the trial court’s order excluding their expert’s opinion on the applicable standard of care. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and vacate in part.

Knox County Court of Appeals 01/09/19
In Re Johnathan M. Et. Al.
M2018-00509-COA-R3-PT

Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights. The trial court found the petitioners proved two grounds for termination, “abandonment by an incarcerated parent and exhibition of wanton disregard for the welfare of the children, prior to and during incarceration, pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-102.” We conclude the record contains insufficient evidence to establish that Mother failed to visit or support the children for four consecutive months immediately preceding her incarceration. However, we affirm the trial court’s determination that Mother engaged in conduct prior to incarceration that exhibited a wanton disregard for the children’s welfare. Nonetheless, we have determined that the petitioners failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that termination of Mother’s parental rights is in the children’s best interests. Accordingly, we vacate the judgment of the trial court to terminate Mother’s parental rights.

Macon County Court of Appeals 01/08/19
Anna Karpovich v. Gregory Brannick
W2017-01796-COA-R3-JV

This appeal arises from a modification of child support. Gregory Brannick (“Father”) and Anna Karpovich (“Mother”) divorced in 2003. Father was ordered to pay $560 per month in child support for the parties’ minor son (“the Child”). In 2016, the State of Tennessee ex rel. Mother filed a petition in the Juvenile Court for Shelby County (“the Juvenile Court”) to establish arrears and/or to modify child support. Following a hearing, the Juvenile Court entered an order increasing Father’s child support obligation to $1,464.17 per month. Father appeals, arguing among other things that the Juvenile Court failed to consider his actual income for purposes of modifying his child support obligation. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 01/08/19
In Re Gabriella H., Et Al.
M2018-00723-COA-R3-PT

This action involves the termination of a mother’s parental rights to her minor children. Following a bench trial, the court found that clear and convincing evidence existed to support the statutory grounds of abandonment by an incarcerated parent and for failure to provide a suitable home, substantial noncompliance with the permanency plans, and the persistence of conditions which led to removal. The court further found that termination was in the best interest of the children. We affirm. 

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 01/08/19
State of Tennessee v. Taylor Satterfield
E2017-02207-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant-Appellant, Taylor Satterfield, was indicted by the Hamilton County Grand Jury for first degree premediated murder, tampering with evidence, and unlawful possession of a deadly weapon. He then filed a motion to suppress his statement to police, which was denied. After the State dismissed the tampering with evidence and weapon charges, the Defendant’s case proceeded to a jury trial on the first degree murder charge, and he was convicted of the lesser included offense of second degree murder and sentenced to twenty-two years in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant argues: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his statement; (2) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction; and (3) he received an excessive sentence. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/08/19
State of Tennessee v. Windall Sherell Edwards aka "Woo"
W2018-00145-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Windall Sherell Edwards, also known as “Woo,” was convicted by a jury of first degree murder, theft of property valued at $500 or less, and felon in possession of a weapon. He was sentenced to an effective sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Defendant appeals the judgments of the trial court, arguing that the evidence was not sufficient to prove premeditation for the first degree murder conviction. Because we conclude that the evidence was sufficient, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/08/19
State of Tennessee v. Samuel Enrique Mendez
M2018-00371-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Samuel Enrique Mendez, was indicted on two counts of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony; and five counts of rape of a child, a Class A felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-504, -522. Prior to trial, the State dismissed one of the aggravated sexual battery counts and three of the rape of a child counts. At the close of the State’s proof, the State requested that the remaining aggravated sexual battery count also be dismissed. The jury then convicted the Defendant of the remaining two counts of rape of a child, and the trial court imposed a total effective sentence of fifty-four years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in allowing a defense character witness to be cross-examined about a specific instance of the Defendant’s conduct. Following our review, we conclude that the trial court did not comply with the requirements of Tennessee Rule of Evidence 405 in allowing the witness to be cross examined about the specific instance of the Defendant’s conduct, and that the error was not harmless. Accordingly, we reverse the judgments of the trial court and remand the case for a new trial.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/07/19
Matthew Tolliver Et Al. v. Tellico Village Property Owners Association, Inc.
E2018-00090-COA-R3-CV

This litigation finds its genesis in a water pipeline break that caused damage to residential property. At the time of the break, Joseph and Martha Mosakowski were the title owners of the damaged property. Matthew Tolliver, who was purchasing the property under a contract for deed, resided in the home. Mr. Tolliver filed a complaint against Tellico Village Property Owners Association, Inc. (defendant) alleging negligence and breach of contract. The Mosakowskis were later joined to the suit as co-plaintiffs. Pursuant to a court order, the Mosakowskis filed their own complaint, which contained similar factual allegations and asserted the same causes of action as alleged in Mr. Tolliver’s complaint. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the Mosakowskis’ negligence claim. The defendant also filed a motion for summary judgment on all claims asserted by Mr. Tolliver and the Mosakowskis. Mr. Tolliver consented to the entry of an agreed order granting summary judgment to the defendant as to all of his claims. The Mosakowskis, however, contested defendant’s motions. Ultimately, the trial court granted defendant’s motion to dismiss the Mosakowskis’ negligence claim because the court determined that the statute of limitations had expired. In a separate order, the court granted the defendant summary judgment on the Mosakowskis’ breach of contract claim because the court determined that there was no consideration for the alleged contract. The court denied summary judgment as to the Mosakowskis’ negligence claim because the court’s order dismissing that claim rendered the issue moot. The Mosakowskis appeal. We affirm the trial court’s dismissal of the negligence claim. Although the court erred by dismissing the negligence claim pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6), we find that ruling to be harmless because summary judgment was proper under Tenn. R. Civ. P. 56. Finally, we reverse the trial court’s grant of summary judgment on the breach of contract claim and remand for further proceedings.

Loudon County Court of Appeals 01/07/19
Jamie N. Grimes v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00319-CCA-R3-PC

The Davidson County Criminal Court denied the Petitioner’s petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction of selling twenty-six grams or more of cocaine within one thousand feet of a school and resulting twenty-five-year sentence. The Petitioner appealed to this court, arguing that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that the State violated the mandatory joinder rule, and we affirmed the judgment of the post-conviction court. However, in a footnote to our opinion, we noted errors in the post-conviction court’s order that did not accurately reflect what occurred at the post-conviction evidentiary hearing. The Tennessee Supreme Court granted the Petitioner’s application for permission to appeal, vacated the judgment of this court, and remanded the case to the post-conviction court for entry of a corrected order denying the petition for post-conviction relief. The amended order is now before us. Upon reconsideration of the record and the parties’ briefs, we again affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/07/19
Joletta Hinson-Bull v. State of Tennessee
E2018-00469-CCA-R3-PC

The Petitioner, Joletta Hinson-Bull, pleaded guilty to theft of property valued at more than $1,000, criminal impersonation, and driving on a revoked license. She agreed to be sentenced as a Range III offender to an effective sentence of ten years, to be served consecutively to her sentence from a conviction in a different county. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that her counsel was ineffective and that her guilty plea was not knowingly and voluntarily entered. The post-conviction court denied the petition. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred when it denied her post-conviction relief. After review, we affirm the postconviction court’s judgment.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/07/19
Roland Digital Media, Inc. v. City of Livingston
M2018-00163-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arises from the dismissal of a petition for a common law writ of certiorari in which the petitioner sought to challenge a decision of the Livingston Board of Zoning Appeals. The trial court dismissed the petition pursuant to a Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(1) motion for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the petition failed to name the Livingston Board of Zoning Appeals, whose decision was at issue, as a defendant as required by Tenn. Code Ann. § 27-9-104. This appeal followed. We affirm.

Overton County Court of Appeals 01/07/19