Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 10/22/2019
Format: 10/22/2019
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
Dana Darnell v. Mark Darnell
E2018-02007-COA-R3-CV

This appeal arose from the parties’ divorce proceedings. After approximately five years of marriage, Dana Darnell (“Wife”) filed a complaint in September 2017 with the Bradley County Chancery Court (“Trial Court”), seeking a divorce from Mark Darnell (“Husband”). Following trial, the Trial Court granted the parties a divorce, classified the parties’ property, and divided the marital property and debts. Determining that Wife’s savings account should have been classified as marital property due to commingling, we reverse the trial court’s classification that such account was Wife’s separate property and award Husband one-half of the funds in Wife’s savings account. We affirm the Trial Court’s distribution of the remaining marital assets.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 08/12/19
Antonio D. Idellfonso-Diaz v. Russell Washburn, Warden
M2018-02233-CCA-R3-HC

The Petitioner, Antonio D. Idellfonso-Diaz, appeals the denial of his petition for habeas corpus relief. Following our review, we affirm the habeas corpus court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Trousdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/12/19
Angela M. Gunter v. Estate of Jaime B. Armstrong Et Al.
E2018-01473-COA-R3-CV

This appeal presents the issue of whether an employer can be held liable for the tortious harm its employee inflicted on a third party during an automobile accident when that accident occurred after the employee departed her workplace but prior to the end of her work shift. The trial court entered an order granting summary judgment in favor of the employer. The third-party plaintiff has appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Greene County Court of Appeals 08/12/19
Frederick Leon Tucker v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01196-CCA-R3-ECN

Petitioner, Fredrick Leon Tucker, appeals the denial of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis based upon newly discovered evidence. We find that the error coram nobis court, in violation of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B, failed to rule on Petitioner’s motion to recuse before entering an order denying the petition. Therefore, we vacate the order denying the petition for a writ of error coram nobis and remand for consideration of the petition. Furthermore, in order to avoid even the possibility of an appearance of impropriety, the original error coram nobis judge is recused from further proceedings in this case.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/12/19
Simeon T. Trendafilov v. William E. Bitterman
E2018-01289-COA-R3-CV

This appeal follows a jury trial in which the plaintiff was awarded $6,500 for damage to his automobile. The plaintiff raises several issues for our consideration. Two of the issues pertain to pretrial evidentiary rulings made by the trial court; however, the plaintiff failed to raise these issues in his motion for new trial. Because the plaintiff failed to raise these issues in his motion for new trial, they are waived under Rule 3 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. The remaining issues concern whether the trial court properly admitted the defendant’s valuation evidence at trial and whether the evidence at trial was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict. Although the plaintiff raised these issues in his motion for new trial, he failed to provide this court with a transcript of the evidence or a statement of the evidence. Without a fair and accurate record of what transpired at trial, we are unable conduct a review of these issues. Therefore, we affirm the judgment of the trial court in all respects.

Knox County Court of Appeals 08/09/19
State of Tennessee v. Martha Ann McClancy
E2018-00295-CCA-R3-CD

The defendant, Martha Ann McClancy, appeals her Monroe County Criminal Court jury convictions of attempted first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder, arguing that the trial court erred by denying her motion to suppress photographs of the scene taken by her co-conspirator Charles Kaczmarczyk, her motion in limine to exclude evidence of acts committed following the death of the victim, and her motion for a mistrial; that the trial court erred by admitting photographs of the victim taken during the autopsy; that the trial court’s making negative comments to and about her in front of the jury deprived her of the right to a fair trial; that the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions; and that the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentences. The State concedes, and we agree, that the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentences in this case. Instead, because Code section 39-12-106 prohibits the imposition of dual convictions for two inchoate offenses designed to achieve the same objective, the trial court should have merged the defendant’s convictions. Thus, we affirm the jury verdicts, reverse the imposition of consecutive sentences, and remand the case for the entry of corrected judgment forms reflecting that the convictions are merged.

Monroe County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/09/19
State of Tennessee v. Gregory Tyrone Dotson
M2018-00657-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant-Appellant, Gregory Tyrone Dotson, appeals from his conviction of voluntary manslaughter by a Davidson County jury. In this appeal as of right, the sole issues presented for our review are whether the evidence is sufficient to support his conviction and whether the trial court properly imposed his sentence. Upon our review, we affirm the conviction of the trial court. However, we reverse and vacate the Defendant’s sentence and remand for a new sentencing hearing.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/09/19
Regina Smith v. Benihana National Corp.
W2018-00992-COA-R3-CV

In 2010, Decedent became ill while dining at the Benihana restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee; despite being transported to the hospital, Decedent quickly died. Surviving relatives of Decedent thereafter filed suit against the restaurant alleging, inter alia, that the restaurant negligently served Decedent seafood or shellfish in spite of a known allergy. After several years of pretrial disputes, the case eventually proceeded to a jury trial. The jury determined that the restaurant was not liable for the death of Decedent and awarded the plaintiffs no damages. The plaintiffs filed no post-trial motions, but filed a timely notice of appeal to this Court. Discerning no error in the jury’s verdict and concluding that several of the issues raised on appeal are waived, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 08/09/19
State of Tennessee v. Kendrick Rivers
W2018-00861-CCA-R3-CD

Defendant, Kendrick Rivers, was found guilty of aggravated assault in concert with two or more other persons after an incident at Northwest Correctional Complex (“Northwest”) in Tiptonville, Tennessee, during which a correctional officer was attacked by several inmates. As a result of the conviction, Defendant was sentenced to fifteen years in incarceration. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction, that the trial court erred in refusing to allow Defendant to introduce another inmate’s conviction for the same offense, and that the trial court erred in sentencing Defendant. For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/09/19
State of Tennessee v. Dustin Michael Cathey
W2018-00615-CCA-R3-CD

The Defendant, Dustin Michael Cathey, was convicted by a Crockett County Circuit Court jury of first degree felony murder and second degree murder. The second degree murder conviction merged into the conviction for felony murder, and the trial court imposed a life sentence. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in including language regarding criminal responsibility for the conduct of another in its jury charge, and he also argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Crockett County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/09/19