Appellate Court Opinions

Format: 01/27/2021
Format: 01/27/2021
Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/01/10
Steven Totty v. The Tennessee Department of Correction and the State of Tennessee

This appeal involves a state prisoner’s efforts to enforce a plea bargain agreement. The prisoner filed a petition for a common-law writ of certiorari in theCircuit Court for Davidson County after the Department of Correction refused to release him in accordance with his understanding of the agreement. The trial court granted the department’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and the prisoner has appealed. We affirm the dismissal of the petition because it fails to state a claim upon which relief pursuant to a common-law writ of certiorari can be granted.1

Davidson County Court of Appeals
Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals
Lesa Johnson v. South Central Human Resource Agency, Roy Tipps, Executive Director, and John Ed Underwood, Jr., Deputy Director

This is an action pursued by the appellant, Lesa Johnson (Johnson), for the alleged wrongful termination of her employment with South Central Human Resource Agency (SCHRA). The Chancery Court for Bedford County dismissed the complaint upon motion of the appellees, SCHRA, and its executive and deputy directors, Roy Tipps and John Ed Underwood, Jr., respectively.

Bedford County Court of Appeals
David John Erdly v. Janene Marie Erdly - Concurring

The plaintiff, David John Erdly, has appealed from the judgment of the Trial Court dismissing his suit for divorce, dividing the marital estate, awarding plaintiff child custody and support and awarding the defendant, Janene Marie Erdly, alimony for the remainder of her life.

Williamson County Court of Appeals
Knight vs. Knight
Court of Criminal Appeals
Robert L. Delaney v. Brook Thompson, et al.

This Court has been appointed by the Governor to decide the case of Delaney v. Thompson, et al., in which the plaintiff challenges the constitutionality of the uniquely statutory merit selection system for appellate judges called the Tennessee Plan. Rather than contend with the constitutional issues, the majority, deciding this case by statutory construction, utilizes a construction which reflects neither the meaning of the statute nor the positions of the parties. In doing so, the majority opinion neither clarifies issues of importance to the electorate and judiciary, nor discourages future litigation on the same issues.

Supreme Court
James Gant v. Kenneth Broadway, County Executive and Chmn of the Decatur County Commission, et al.

Petitioner, James Edward Gant, appeals the judgment of the chancery court denying his application for a beer permit.

Decatur County Court of Appeals
Alton F. Dixon v. Nike, Inc.

Plaintiff, Alton F. Dixon, appeals the order of the trial court granting summary judgment to defendant, Nike, Inc. Nike is a manufacturer of sporting goods, footwear, and apparel, and Dixon was an at-will employee of Nike. Nike encourages its employees to actively participate in improving their work environment and in implementing ideas for new products on the market 2 through a program called “I Got It.” The program invites Nike’s employees to submit ideas that “eliminate waste, improve the way we work, increase productivity, prevent accidents, save time, money, or energy.” Employees can also submit ideas for new products or inventions. In a weekly bulletin for employees, Nike stated, “If what you are suggesting is an idea for a new product or invention, to protect you and NIKE, a letter of understanding will be sent for your signature stating, in essence, that NIKE will not use your product idea until a written contract is negotiated and signed.”

Shelby County Court of Appeals
Johnny L. Butler, v. State of Tennessee

The petitioner, who is serving a sentence for a federal court conviction, has filed two petitions attacking prior state convictions which were used to enhance the sentence for the federal conviction. These two petitions, called petitions for the writ of coram nobis or for habeas corpus, were dismissed by the trial court without a hearing on the basis that they were actually petitions for post-conviction relief and barred by the statute of limitations. We agree with the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Appeals
April Wallace, Vickie Guinn, et al., v. National Bank of Commerce, et al.

This case presents for review the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the trial court's award of summary judgment for the defendants. The trial court found that the
record shows, as a matter of law, that the defendant banks did not breach the duty of good faith in imposing fees for returned checks drawn on accounts with insufficient funds.
This Court concurs in the decision made by the trial court and the Court of Appeals.

Shelby County Supreme Court
State of Tennessee v. Gussie Willis Vann - Dissenting

I agree with the majority’s resolution of every issue in this case but one: the effect of the trial court’s failure to instruct the jury on second-degree murder. The majority concludes that the trial court’s failure to instruct the jury on the offense of second-degree murder is not error because the evidence in the record does not support that offense. Because I find the evidence can indeed support a conviction of seconddegree murder, I respectfully dissent.

McMinn County Supreme Court
Deborah Lorraine Brooks v. Rickey Lamar Brooks - Dissenting

It is apparent that this Court has based its finding that Mr. Brooks is willfully and voluntarily underemployed simply on the fact that he, at one time, was more lucratively employed. Simply because a parent is not as lucratively employed as during the marriage, or for a time thereafter, no automatic inference that he or she is willfully and voluntarily underemployed should be drawn. We must remain cognizant of a parent’s right as a citizen to the pursuit of happiness and to the freedom to make reasonable employment decisions, while at the same time heeding the duty to support.

Knox County Supreme Court
State of Tennessee v. John R. Farner, Jr.

The State of Tennessee has filed a petition to rehear asking this Court to reconsider certain
portions of the opinion. Contrary to the assertions of the petition the opinion does not require the giving of a special “proximate cause” instruction in every homicide case. The opinion requires the giving of a general causation instruction whenever the homicide offense does not itself explicitly or implicitly include a causation instruction. As the State recognizes, some of the homicide offenses include elements that implicitly instruct the jury that a causation finding is necessary. Also without merit is the State’s assertion that the suggested pattern jury instruction set out in footnote 16 conflicts with existing law and relieves the State of its burden of proof. The State’s petition confuses criminal negligence and causation. Both elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to establish criminally negligent homicide. Moreover, we emphasize that the language in footnote 16 is merely a suggestion which may be accepted, revised, or rejected by the Pattern Jury Instruction Committee. Accordingly, the State’s petition to rehear is DENIED. Costs of this petition are taxed to the State of Tennessee, for which execution may issue if necessary.

Sullivan County Supreme Court
Mina Woods and Robert Woods v. World Truck Transfer, Inc. and Edward J. Seigham

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.

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

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.
Rutherford County Supreme Court
Cybill Shepherd v. Weather Shield Manufacturing, Inc.

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
Supreme Court
Supreme Court
Tamara E. Lowe, Administrator of the Estate of Terry Allen Lowe, Deceased, v. Gransville Simpson, and wife, Judy Simpson

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.