Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 10/20/2020
Format: 10/20/2020
Mina Woods and Robert Woods v. World Truck Transfer, Inc. and Edward J. Seigham
M1997-00068-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves a personal injury action that was dismissed because the Clerk of the Circuit Court for Davidson County refused to accept and file a summons that had not been prepared on an original form provided by the clerk. By the time the plaintiff provided another summons acceptable to the clerk, the time for filing the complaint and the summons had elapsed. Accordingly, on motion of one of the defendants, the Circuit Court for Davidson County dismissed the personal injury claim because it was time-barred. We have determined that the clerk’s office exceeded its authority when it declined to accept and file the summons and, therefore, that the trial court erred by dismissing the complaint. Accordingly, we vacate the order dismissing the personal injury claims and remand the case for further proceedings.

Davidson County Court of Appeals
Daniel B. Taylor v. Donal Campbell, et al.
M1998-00913-COA-R3-CV

This appeal involves a dispute between a prisoner and the Department of Correction regarding the prisoner's request for access to the Department's rules governing prisoner sentence credits. The Department responded by informing the prisoner that its policies governing prisoner sentence reduction credits could be found in the prison law library. Thereafter, the prisoner filed suit in the Chancery Court for Davidson County complaining that he had been wrongfully denied access to public records. The Commissioner of Correction moved to dismiss the complaint. Alternatively, the Commissioner sought a summary judgment and supported his motion with affidavits asserting that the prisoner had already received all the information he sought. Based on these affidavits, the trial court granted the Commissioner's summary judgment motion and dismissed the prisoner's complaint. We have determined that the Commissioner has not demonstrated that he is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law and, therefore, reverse the summary dismissal of the prisoner's complaint.

Davidson County Court of Appeals
John Doe v. Jane Doe
M2003-01142-SC-S25-BP

The petitioner, an attorney identified as John Doe, filed a petition for contempt alleging violations by the respondent, an attorney identified as Jane Doe, of the confidentiality requirement of Rule 9, section 25 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court. The Court directed the parties to address as a threshold matter the constitutionality of Rule 9, section 25. After considering the arguments of the parties, the Attorney General and amicus curiae, and analyzing the applicable law, we hold that section 25 of Rule 9 violates free speech protections of Article I, section 19 of the Tennessee Constitution and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. We further conclude that sanctions for criminal contempt are not appropriate under the circumstances of this case. Accordingly, the petition for contempt is denied.

Jackson County Supreme Court
Dorothy Owens, as Conservator of Mary Francis King, et al. v. National Health Corporation, et al.
M2005-01272-SC-R11-CV
Rutherford County Supreme Court
Cybill Shepherd v. Weather Shield Manufacturing, Inc.
W1999-00508-COA-R3-CV

The plaintiff brought suit against a manufacturer of windows and doors for allegedly supplying defective products which allowed substantial leaks into her dwelling and caused rotting because of excessive moisture. Following a nonjury trial, the trial court denied the plaintiff's claim pursuant to the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act but awarded judgment to the plaintiff on her claim that the defendant supplied defective doors and windows. Based upon our review, we affirm the trial court's denial of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act claim. Finding that the plaintiff did not provide notice to the defendant of its allegedly defective product within the applicable statute of limitations, we reverse the award of damages to the plaintiff and dismiss her complaint.

Shelby County Court of Appeals
M2001-01866-CCA-R3-DD
Supreme Court
01C01-9606-CR-00230
Supreme Court
Tamara E. Lowe, Administrator of the Estate of Terry Allen Lowe, Deceased, v. Gransville Simpson, and wife, Judy Simpson
X2010-0000-XX-X00-XX

This is a wrongful death action. On April 28, 1998, Cynthia Low Armes ("Sister"), the sister of the late Terry Allen Lowe ("decedent"), instituted this action against Granville Simpson ("Granville") and his wife, Judy Simpson ("Judy"), (collectively, "the Simpsons"), alleging that the Simpsons were negligent in allowing three men, including Granville, to go armed on the Simpson's premises on December 10, 1995, and that their negligence directly contributed to the shooting death of the decedent. The trial court granted the Simpsons summary judgment on the ground that the complain was not filed within the applicable one-year statute of limitations. Sister appeals, raising the following issue for our consideration: Did the trial court err in holding that Sister was aware of the injury and the cause of action on December 10, 1995, and therefore her action was barred by the statute of limitations?

 

Morgan County Court of Appeals
Cheryl Hall v. James H. Crenshaw, M.D., The Jackson Clinic Professional Association, et al.

This interlocutory appeal involves ex parte communications between defense counsel for a defendant medical entity and non-party physicians who treated the plaintiff’s decedent and are employed by the defendant medical entity. The plaintiff filed this healthcare liability action against the defendant medical entity arising out of treatment of the plaintiff’s decedent. The trial court held that the attorneys for the defendant medical entity are barred under Alsip v. Johnson City Medical Center, 197 S.W.3d 722 (Tenn. 2006), from conferring ex parte with treating physicians employed by the defendant medical entity who are not named as defendants in the lawsuit. The defendant medical entity was granted permission for this interlocutory appeal. We hold that the defendant medical entity has an independent right to communicate privately with its employees, and this right is not abrogated by the filing of the plaintiff’s healthcare liability lawsuit. Therefore, Alsip does not bar the medical entity’s attorneys from communicating ex parte with physicians employed by the medical entity about the physician employee’s medical treatment of the plaintiff’s decedent. Accordingly, we reverse.

Cedric Dickerson v. State of Tennessee

Cedric Dickerson (“the Petitioner”) was convicted by a jury of first degree felony murder and aggravated robbery. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to life without the possibility of parole for his first degree felony murder conviction and eleven years for his aggravated robbery conviction and ordered the sentences to run concurrently. On direct appeal, this Court affirmed the trial court’s judgments. See State v. Cedric Dickerson, No. 02C01-9802-CR-00051, 1999 WL 74213, at *4 (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 17, 1999). The Petitioner subsequently filed for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied following a post-conviction hearing. The Petitioner now appeals, arguing that “the Eighth Amendment should prohibit life without parole sentences for juvenile offenders.” Upon our thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s decision denying relief.

In Re: Cidney L.

Mother appeals the trial court’s termination of her parental rights. She argues that the trial court erred in holding that clear and convincing evidence established that she engaged in conduct exhibiting a wanton disregard for the welfare of the child prior to her incarceration and that termination was in the child’s best interest. We have determined that there is clear and convincing evidence in the record to support both of the trial court’s findings. We affirm.

In Re: Cidney L.

Mother appeals the trial court’s termination of her parental rights. She argues that the trial court erred in holding that clear and convincing evidence established that she engaged in conduct exhibiting a wanton disregard for the welfare of the child prior to her incarceration and that termination was in the child’s best interest. We have determined that there is clear and convincing evidence in the record to support both of the trial court’s findings. We affirm.

In Re: Cidney L.

Mother appeals the trial court’s termination of her parental rights. She argues that the trial court erred in holding that clear and convincing evidence established that she engaged in conduct exhibiting a wanton disregard for the welfare of the child prior to her incarceration and that termination was in the child’s best interest. We have determined that there is clear and convincing evidence in the record to support both of the trial court’s findings. We affirm.

In Re: Cidney L.

Mother appeals the trial court’s termination of her parental rights. She argues that the trial court erred in holding that clear and convincing evidence established that she engaged in conduct exhibiting a wanton disregard for the welfare of the child prior to her incarceration and that termination was in the child’s best interest. We have determined that there is clear and convincing evidence in the record to support both of the trial court’s findings. We affirm.

Crockett County Court of Appeals
State of Tennessee v. John Henry Pruitt

A Hickman County jury found the Defendant, John Henry Pruitt, guilty of two counts of first degree murder, one count of attempted first degree murder, and three counts of aggravated assault. Thereafter, the jury sentenced the Defendant to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for both the first degree murder convictions. The trial court imposed a consecutive sentence of twenty-five years for his attempted first degree murder conviction and concurrent six-year sentences for each of the three aggravated assault convictions. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress the evidence obtained during the execution of a search warrant. The Defendant also contends that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions for first degree murder and attempted first degree murder, and that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his sentence of life without the possibility of parole. After a thorough review of the record and relevant law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

In re Conservatorship of Bill Bartlett

This is a conservatorship case. Appellee hospital filed a petition for appointment of an expedited limited healthcare fiduciary for the Appellant patient because the hospital believed that Appellant could not be safely discharged without assistance. The trial court determined that the appointment of a limited healthcare fiduciary was appropriate and in the Appellant’s best interest. The trial court then granted Appellee’s motion to amend its petition to include the appointment of a conservator. The trial court found that Appellant is an individual with disabilities, and further found that it is in the Appellant’s best interest to have a conservator appointed. Appellant appeals. Discerning no error, we affirm and remand.
 

State of Tennessee v. Curtis Colston

Pursuant to his plea agreement, the Defendant-Appellant, Curtis Colston, entered a guilty plea to aggravated assault and received a sentence of six years, with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court.  In this appeal, Colston argues that the trial court abused its discretion by denying his request for an alternative sentence.  Upon our review, we affirm the sentence and remand for entry of a corrected judgment.

Earl Ray Hancock, Et Al. v. Danny J. Brown, Et Al.

Plaintiffs own or lease contiguous parcels of property, whose only access to a highway is by a gravel road that passes through Defendants’ property. Plaintiffs brought this action seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to address the Defendants’ actions in blocking the entry to the road by which the Plaintiffs were able to ingress and egress their property. The Plaintiffs also requested that the entrance to the road, which had been relocated by the Defendants, be restored to its original location. The trial court granted relief to the Plaintiffs, ruling that there was a prescriptive easement, and ordered Defendants to return the entrance to the easement to its original location; Defendants appeal. We have determined that the evidence is not clear and convincing that Plaintiffs or their predecessors in title continuously used the entrance for the twenty-year period required to establish an easement by prescription; consequently, we reverse the trial court’s holding in that regard. We have further determined that the issue of whether an easement by necessity existed was raised by the pleadings and remand the case for the trial court to determine whether the Plaintiffs are entitled to an easement by necessity under Tennessee Code Annotated section 54-14-102 and, if so, to make findings relative thereto.

Marlon Yarbro v. State of Tennessee

This is a State appeal of the Hardin County Circuit Court’s grant of post-conviction relief. The Petitioner was convicted by a jury of various drug related offenses including sale of .5 grams or more of a Schedule II controlled substance within 1000 feet of a school zone, see Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-417(c)(1), 39-17-432(b)-(c), for which he received an effective sentence of 25 years with no parole. State v. Marlon Yarbro, No. W2015-00475-CCA-R3-CD, 2015 WL 5813383, at *3 (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 5, 2015), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Feb. 18, 2016). After his conviction was affirmed by this court, the Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief which did not include as grounds for relief that trial counsel was ineffective in advising the Petitioner of his sentence range or a due process claim based on the Petitioner’s rejection of a more favorable settlement offer from the State. Post-conviction counsel was appointed, and no amendments were filed. An evidentiary hearing was held, and the post-conviction court granted the Petitioner relief based on the evidence adduced at the post-conviction hearing. The State now appeals, raising the following issues: (1) whether the postconviction court may, on its own initiative, constructively amend a post-conviction petition; (2) if the constructive amendment were proper and if the basis for relief was that the petitioner’s rejection of the State’s plea offer was unknowing, whether that basis is a cognizable ground for post-conviction relief where there is no constitutional right to a knowing and voluntary rejection of a plea offer; and (3) if the constructive amendment were proper and if the basis for relief was ineffective assistance of counsel, whether the post-conviction court erred in granting relief where the court did not conduct the Strickland two-pronged analysis. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Denver Joe McMath, Jr. v. State of Tennessee

The petitioner, Denver Joe McMath, Jr., 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. After our review of the record, briefs, and applicable law, we affirm the denial of the petition.