COURT OF APPEALS OPINIONS

Staci L. Robinson v. Eric S. Robinson
E2023-00546-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W .Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Douglas T. Jenkins

Husband moved for relief from a final decree of divorce under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 60.02(2). He claimed that his former spouse intentionally misrepresented her income and assets during the divorce proceedings. The trial court denied the motion. We affirm.

Hawkins Court of Appeals

Thomas Kaminski v. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
M2024-00291-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: PER CURIAM
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor I’Ashea L. Myles

This is an appeal from a final order affirming the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s denial of a request for termination of registration on the Sex Offender Registry. Because the appellant did not file his notice of appeal with the clerk of the appellate court within thirty days after entry of the final judgment as required by Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a), we dismiss the appeal.

Davidson Court of Appeals

In Re Daxleigh F. Et Al.
E2023-00749-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sharon M. Green

This is a termination of parental rights case. Appellant/Mother appeals the trial court’s termination of her parental rights on the grounds of: (1) abandonment by failure to support; (2) persistence of the conditions that led to the children’s removal; and (3) failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume legal and physical custody of or financial responsibility for the children. The trial court also determined that termination of Mother’s parental rights is in the children’s best interests. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Washington Court of Appeals

In Re S.C., et al.
W2022-01709-COA-R3-JV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge A. Blake Neill

Mother appeals the trial court’s finding that her children were dependent and neglected.
We affirm.

Tipton Court of Appeals

Essy Kazemi et al. v. Hamid Arab
M2022-00707-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey Usman
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deanna B. Johnson

The Defendant signed a promissory note and borrowed $500,000 from the Plaintiffs, with the loan secured by his home. Months later, the parties entered into a note modification agreement that increased the principal to $900,000. The Defendant did not pay back the loan, making no payments, so the Plaintiffs sued to recover under the agreements. Over two years after the original answer was filed, the Defendant moved to amend his answer to add several affirmative defenses. The trial court denied the motion to amend. After a trial, the trial court found that the Defendant owed the Plaintiffs $843,011.47. The Defendant appeals the denial of his motion to amend and raises multiple other issues primarily relating to the amount owed. We find no error and affirm the trial court.

Williamson Court of Appeals

Raymond T. Throckmorton, III, et al. v. Steven L. Lefkovitz, et al.
M2022-01124-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Anne C. Martin

The plaintiff attorneys filed this action alleging tortious interference with a business relationship and unlawful procurement of breach of contract, Tennessee Code Annotated section 47-50-109, against the defendant attorney and his law firm for his defense of their former clients in an action to recover fees. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant attorney and the law firm. We affirm.

Davidson Court of Appeals

In Re Estate of Thomas Lee Griffin
W2023-00508-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe Townsend

This appeal arises from a petition for declaratory judgment concerning a quit claim deed.
By the quit claim deed, the grantor, now deceased, conveyed to the respondent an
undivided one-half interest in the property. Following the property description and
derivation clause, the deed expressly provided that it was the intention of the grantor and
the grantee to create a joint tenancy with a right of survivorship. The respondent filed a
motion for summary judgment, asserting that the survivorship language in the deed was
sufficient to create a right of survivorship in the respondent. The trial court entered an
order denying the respondent’s motion for summary judgment and granting the petition for
declaratory judgment in favor of the petitioner. The respondent appealed. We reverse.

Shelby Court of Appeals

In Re Ember H. Et Al.
E2023-00687-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy E. Irwin

This appeal concerns termination of parental rights. Maternal grandparents Chaunta C. (“Grandmother”) and Thomas C. (“Petitioners,” collectively) filed a petition in the Juvenile Court for Knox County (“the Juvenile Court”) seeking to terminate the parental rights of Bethany U. (“Mother”) to her minor children Ember H. and Erowynn H. (“the Children,”collectively). After a hearing, the Juvenile Court entered an order terminating Mother’s parental rights on grounds of abandonment by failure to visit, abandonment by failure to support, failure to manifest, and persistent conditions. Mother appeals, arguing among other things that Petitioners prevented her from visiting the Children. We vacate the ground of persistent conditions. However, we find, as did the Juvenile Court, that the three other grounds were proven by clear and convincing evidence. We find further by clear and convincing evidence, as did the Juvenile Court, that termination of Mother’s parental rights is in the Children’s best interest. We thus affirm as modified, resulting in affirmance of the termination of Mother’s parental rights to the Children.

Knox Court of Appeals

In Re Nevaeh K.
E2023-01106-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark Toohey

This is a termination of parental rights case. Both parents appeal the trial court’s determination of the existence of statutory grounds to terminate their rights, as well as its conclusion that termination is in their child’s best interests. The father also challenges whether the trial court erred in denying his motion for in-person attendance at trial. Upon our review of the record, we affirm.

Sullivan Court of Appeals

Stoneybrooke Investors LLC v. Agness McCurry
E2024-00253-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.

This matter involves an interlocutory appeal as of right, pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B, from the Washington County Circuit Court’s denial of a motion to recuse filed by the appellant. Having reviewed the petition for recusal appeal and other filings submitted by the appellant, we determine that the appellant failed to comply with the mandatory requirements of Rule 10B. We therefore affirm the trial court’s ruling.

Washington Court of Appeals

Loren Probst Et Al. v. Liberty Mutual Group, Inc. Et Al.
M2022-01477-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor J. B. Cox

This appeal challenges the enforceability of a purported settlement agreement among homeowners, their insurance provider, and a service provider. The plaintiffs originally brought claims against their insurance provider and a service provider after efforts to repair water damage resulted in further damage to their home. The dispute progressed to settlement negotiations, and it seemed an agreement was reached; however, the plaintiffs stopped short of executing the written agreement. The defendants filed a joint motion to enforce the settlement agreement, which the plaintiffs opposed in the trial court, claiming that “counsel was not provided with express authorization to accept” the defendants’ counteroffer. The trial court deemed it a case of “buyers’ remorse” and granted the defendants’ motion to enforce the settlement agreement. On appeal, the plaintiffs raise the sole issue of whether a condition subsequent made the agreement unenforceable. Defendants contend that this issue was waived because it was not raised in the trial court. We have determined that the plaintiffs waived their only issue on appeal by failing to raise it in the trial court. We have also determined, as the defendants contend, that the trial court correctly ruled that the parties entered into an enforceable settlement agreement. Thus, we affirm the decision of the trial court.

Marshall Court of Appeals

In Re Chance B. et al.
M2023-00279-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey Usman
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ben Dean

Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights and the stepparent adoption of her two children by their stepmother. The trial court found three grounds for termination: abandonment by failure to visit, abandonment by failure to support, and failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume custody. The trial court also concluded that terminating Mother’s parental rights was in the children’s best interest. The termination was conjoined with a stepparent adoption, which the trial court granted. The Mother appeals. We affirm the judgment of the trial court terminating Mother’s parental rights and granting the stepparent adoption.

Montgomery Court of Appeals

Debbie Lynn Simmons, et al. v. Deborah Matlock Bass, et al.
M2023-00275-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Suzanne Lockert-Mash

Appellees, a married couple at the time, purchased two properties. Appellants, Husband’s adult daughters from a previous relationship, sought imposition of resulting trusts on the respective properties. Appellants, each of whom lived in one of the properties, maintained that they had agreements with their father whereby they would own the properties so long as they paid all expenses thereon. Appellee/Wife disputed such arrangement and maintained that the disputed properties were marital properties. Because of the suspect circumstances surrounding the purchases of the properties and the disputed testimony regarding any agreements by and between Husband and Appellants, Wife argued that the properties were not subject to the imposition of the equitable remedy of resulting trusts. The trial court denied Appellants’ respective petitions to establish resulting trusts, and they appeal. Because Appellants failed to meet the burden of proof to establish resulting trusts, we affirm the trial court’s decision.

Houston Court of Appeals

Baron Construction, LLC v. 4J Construction Company, Inc. et al.
M2022-00412-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Anne C. Martin

A general contractor sued two business entities and their sole owner for breach of contract. The defendants denied liability and filed a counter-complaint. Four years later, the contractor moved for sanctions under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 16.06. The trial court entered a default judgment against the defendants and dismissed their counterclaims with prejudice due to their repeated failure to comply with pretrial orders. The defendants moved to set aside the final judgment. The trial court granted the owner relief from the judgment. But it refused to set aside the judgment against his two companies. And it granted the contractor summary judgment against the owner on the remaining claims. We affirm.

Davidson Court of Appeals

In Re Kamdyn H. et al.
E2023-00497-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark H. Tooey

This is an appeal of a termination of a mother’s parental rights. The Juvenile Court for Sullivan County (“the Juvenile Court”) terminated the parental rights of Tara C. (“Mother”)to two of her children, Kamdyn H. and Bentyn H. upon finding that the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) proved by clear and convincing evidence that Mother was mentally incompetent and that it was in the best interest of Kamdyn and Bentyn for Mother’s parental rights to be terminated. Mother has appealed. Upon our review, we affirm the Juvenile Court’s judgment.

Sullivan Court of Appeals

Estate of Ella Mae Haire et al. v. Shelby J. Webster et al.
E2022-01657-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi Davis
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Richard B. Armstrong

Decedent’s son, individually and as personal representative of his mother’s estate, sued several of his siblings and decedent mother’s bank. Among other things, the son alleged that the bank breached its duties to the decedent by disbursing funds out of her checking and savings accounts following her death. Eventually, the bank moved for summary judgment, arguing that it was not negligent in its handling of the decedent’s accounts, nor did it breach any contractual duty to either the decedent or her son. The son appeals and, discerning no error by the trial court, we affirm.

Court of Appeals

Anika Berryhill v. Shelby County Government Civil Service Merit Board
W2022-01814-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey Usman
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jim Kyle

A former Shelby County employee alleges that she was wrongfully terminated by the
County and that the Shelby County Government Civil Service Merit Board (CSMB)
improperly declined to consider her appeal. The CSMB’s decision not to consider her
appeal was based upon its determination that the former employee was administratively
removed from her position, not punitively terminated, and, accordingly, the matter was
beyond its authority. The former employee sought judicial review of the CSMB’s decision
in the Shelby County Chancery Court. The Chancery Court dismissed, concluding that the
CSMB did not err on the merits and that the Chancery Court lacked subject matter
jurisdiction. The former employee appeals to this court. Based upon a lack of subject
matter jurisdiction, we affirm the Chancery Court’s dismissal of the former employee’s
petition for judicial review.

Shelby Court of Appeals

Catina Hope Kestner Lusk v. Brandon Burl Lusk
E2024-00226-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey Usman
Trial Court Judge: Judge Suzanne Cook

This is an accelerated interlocutory appeal as of right pursuant to Rule 10B of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Tennessee from a circuit court judge’s denial of a motion to recuse. The Appellant moved for recusal based on the judge’s setting a trial date, based on the judge’s having filed a complaint with the Board of Professional Responsibility against the Appellant’s attorney in an unrelated case, and based on criticism of the attorney in an
unrelated case. The judge denied the recusal on the merits and also due to a failure to follow the procedural requirements of Rule 10B. We affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion to recuse.

Unicoi Court of Appeals

Wendy C. Coram Et Al v. Jimmy C. Brasfield, M.D. Et Al
E2022-01619-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Judge John S. McLellan, III

Plaintiffs filed a health care liability action against several defendants. Following a hearing on the defendants’ motions to dismiss, the trial court determined that the plaintiffs failed to substantially comply with Tennessee Code Annotated section 29-26-121(a)(2)(E) and that the action was untimely. The plaintiffs appealed to this Court and, following our review, we reverse.

Sullivan Court of Appeals

In Re Pandora G.
M2023-01223-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sheila Calloway

This is a termination of parental rights case. The trial court terminated Appellant/Father’s parental rights on the grounds of abandonment by failure to support, substantial noncompliance with the permanency plan, and failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume custody, and on its finding that termination of parental rights was in the child’s best interest. Father appeals. Because Appellee abandoned the ground of substantial noncompliance with the permanency plan, we reverse the trial court’s termination of Appellant’s parental rights on that ground. We affirm the trial court’s termination of Appellant’s parental rights on all remaining grounds and on its finding that termination of Appellant’s parental rights is in the child’s best interest.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Ben Smith et al. v. William A. White et al.
M2023-00030-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Wayne Collins

The appellees sold a portion of their property to the appellants. The appellees sued the appellants seeking an easement by necessity. The appellants maintained that Tenn. Code Ann § 54-14-102 and its associated statutes prohibited such an easement. The trial court granted a common law easement by necessity. We agree with the trial court’s determination that the 2020 amendments to Tenn. Code Ann § 54-14-102 and its associated statutes did not change the common law regarding easements by necessity. However, due to the lack of a hearing and the corresponding lack of evidence, the improper use of the trial judge’s visit to the property as a fact-finding mission, and the uncertain procedures used to decide the case, we vacate the trial court’s order and remand this matter to the trial court for further proceedings.

Jackson Court of Appeals

Tassi Williams v. Rodney Wayne Williams, Jr.
E2023-00810-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gregory S. McMillan

This appeal arises from the issuance of an order of protection against the appellant, Rodney Williams, Jr. We, however, have determined that the appellant’s brief is profoundly deficient for it fails to comply with Rule 27(a) of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure and Rule 6 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals of Tennessee in several material respects. Based on the appellant’s failure to substantially comply with Rule 27(a)(6)–(7) of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure and Rule 6 of the Rules of the Court of Appeals of Tennessee, the appellant has waived his right to an appeal. Accordingly, this appeal is dismissed.

Knox Court of Appeals

Brandi Michelle Rose v. Timothy Elvin Rose
W2023-01445-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Vicki Hodge Hoover

Appellants, Rose Sawmill, Inc. and Shiloh Golf Course, Inc., have appealed an order of the
Hardin County Chancery Court that was entered on September 14, 2023. We determine
that the September 14, 2023 order does not constitute a final appealable judgment.
Therefore, this Court lacks jurisdiction to consider the appeal. The appeal is dismissed.

Hardin Court of Appeals

In Re Evandor C.
M2022-01697-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ronnie J. T. Blevins, II

This appeal arises from a petition to terminate the parental rights of a mother and a father to their son. The trial court found that three grounds for termination existed as to the parents: (1) substantial noncompliance with a permanency plan; (2) persistent conditions; and (3) failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume custody. The trial court also found that the termination was in the best interest of the child. The mother and the father appeal. We reverse the trial court’s finding that clear and convincing evidence established the ground of persistent conditions. However, we affirm its findings that the remaining grounds were proven as to both parents and that termination was in the best interest of the child.

Marion Court of Appeals

Kendall Collier Ex Rel. Chayce C. v. Periculis Roussis, M.D. Et Al.
E2022-00636-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge William T. Ailor

This appeal concerns juror misconduct. Chayce Collier (“Chayce”), a minor, by and through his parent and next friend, Kendall Collier (“Plaintiff”), sued Periclis Roussis, M.D. (“Dr. Roussis”), Fort Sanders Perinatal Center, and Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center (“the Hospital”) (“Defendants,” collectively) in the Circuit Court for Knox County (“the Trial Court”) alleging health care liability in Chayce’s delivery. A major issue at trial was whether Dr. Roussis fell below the standard of care by failing to administer epinephrine to Plaintiff when she had an anaphylactic reaction during labor. The jury found for Defendants. However, it emerged that a juror had gone home and looked at the warning on an epipen which said that epinephrine should only be used when the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. The juror shared this information with the rest of the jury. Plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial, which the Trial Court first granted and then denied. Plaintiff appeals. Under Tenn. R. Evid. 606(b), jurors may not be asked what effect, if any, that extraneous information had on them. Instead, courts look to the extraneous information itself to determine whether there is a reasonable possibility that it altered the verdict. We hold that there is a reasonable possibility that the extraneous information shared with the jury in this case altered the verdict, and Defendants failed to rebut the presumption of prejudice. The Trial Court applied an incorrect legal standard and thereby abused its discretion in denying Plaintiff’s motion for a new trial. We reverse the judgment of the Trial Court and remand for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion.

Knox Court of Appeals