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COURT OF APPEALS OPINIONS

Guillermo Ramos v. Mellanie Caldwell
M2022-00222-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey Usman
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kathryn Wall Olita

A father filed a petition seeking, in addition to a modification of child support, a judgment
for past overpaid support. The father asserted that mother, without his knowledge, had
received for a period of time double child support payments as a result of payments being
taken directly from his paycheck and also being paid through electronic funds transfers that
he remitted directly to mother. While prevailing as to child support modification, the trial
court denied the father’s claim for overpayment of child support. The trial court concluded
his claim was barred by res judicata and, also, a directed verdict on this matter was
warranted due to the father’s failure to present certain critical evidence in support of his
claim. Father appealed the court’s decision barring his claim due to res judicata, but he
did not challenge on appeal the trial court’s granting of a directed verdict in connection
with failure to present evidence to support his claim. As a result of the appellant’s failure
to challenge an independent alternative basis for the trial court’s decision on appeal, we
affirm the decision of the trial court.

Montgomery Court of Appeals

In Re Landyn B.
E2022-00184-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kenneth N. Bailey, Jr.

This action involves the termination of a mother and father’s parental rights to their child.
Following a bench trial, the court found that clear and convincing evidence existed to
establish the following statutory grounds of termination for each parent: (1) abandonment;
(2) substantial noncompliance with the permanency plans; (3) the persistence of conditions
which led to removal; and (4) failure to manifest an ability and willingness to care for the
child. The court also found that termination of each parent’s rights was in the best interest
of the child. We affirm the trial court’s ultimate termination decision.

Court of Appeals

City of Orlinda, Tennessee v. Robertson County, Tennessee et al.
M2021-01505-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Lawrence M. McMillian, Jr.

The City of Orlinda filed a declaratory judgment action seeking to invalidate the Robertson County Planning Commission’s rezoning of property from “Agricultural Residential” to “Neighborhood Commercial,” alleging the rezoning was “illegal spot zoning” and was also procedurally deficient. The trial court affirmed the rezoning. Finding no error, we affirm the trial court.

Robertson Court of Appeals

In Re UTMA Account of Lillian Gardner Dunavant; Dunavant v. Dunavant
W2022-01771-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe Townsend

In these related appeals, two law firms seek an order to recuse a judge. Finding that they
waited too long to seek relief under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B, we dismiss the
petition as to the four related probate cases. As to the interpleader action, we vacate the
orders entered since the Rule 10B motion was filed and order the judge to respond to the
Rule 10B motion.

Shelby Court of Appeals

Ben C. Adams v. Buchanan D. Dunavant, et al. v. Watson Burns PLLC, et al.
W2022-01747-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe Townsend

In these related appeals, two law firms seek an order to recuse a judge. Finding that they
waited too long to seek relief under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B, we dismiss the
petition as to the four related probate cases. As to the interpleader action, we vacate the
orders entered since the Rule 10B motion was filed and order the judge to respond to the
Rule 10B motion.

Shelby Court of Appeals

In Re UTMA Account of Mary Wilkinson Dunavant
W2022-01763-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe Townsend

In these related appeals, two law firms seek an order to recuse a judge. Finding that they
waited too long to seek relief under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B, we dismiss the
petition as to the four related probate cases. As to the interpleader action, we vacate the
orders entered since the Rule 10B motion was filed and order the judge to respond to the
Rule 10B motion.

Shelby Court of Appeals

In Re Buchanan D. Dunavant 2011 Descendants Trust
W2022-01762-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe Townsend

In these related appeals, two law firms seek an order to recuse a judge. Finding that they
waited too long to seek relief under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B, we dismiss the
petition as to the four related probate cases. As to the interpleader action, we vacate the
orders entered since the Rule 10B motion was filed and order the judge to respond to the
Rule 10B motion.

Shelby Court of Appeals

In Re UTMA Account of Lucy Hughes Dunavant
W2022-01770-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe Townsend

In these related appeals, two law firms seek an order to recuse a judge. Finding that they
waited too long to seek relief under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B, we dismiss the
petition as to the four related probate cases. As to the interpleader action, we vacate the
orders entered since the Rule 10B motion was filed and order the judge to respond to the
Rule 10B motion.

Shelby Court of Appeals

Reinhart Foodservice, LLC v. Navneet Patel
M2021-00983-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Mark Rogers

A restaurant supplier brought suit for breach of a guaranty. The guarantor admitted
liability. So the trial court entered partial summary judgment on that issue. The supplier
then moved for summary judgment on damages. The guarantor challenged the
admissibility of the evidence submitted in support of the motion. But the trial court ruled
that the evidence was admissible under the business records exception. And, based on the
undisputed facts, the court granted the motion for summary judgment. We conclude that
some of the supplier’s evidence should have been excluded. So we vacate the summary
judgment on damages.

Rutherford Court of Appeals

Conserv Equipment Leasing, LLC v. Schubert Enterprises, LLC, Et Al.
E2022-00535-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ronald Thurman

The defendants in this action failed to timely answer the plaintiff’s complaint.  Upon the plaintiff’s motion, the trial court entered judgment by default against the defendants.  The defendants moved to set aside the default judgment.  The trial court denied the motion to set aside.  Because the trial court’s order lacked findings of fact and conclusions of law to explain its ruling, we vacate the trial court’s determination and remand for sufficient findings of fact and conclusions of law to facilitate appellate review.

Cumberland Court of Appeals

Dr. David Bruce Coffey v. Buckeye Home Health Center, Inc.
E2022-00928-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. McAfee

A landlord appeals from the grant of summary judgment to a commercial tenant in the landlord’s breach of contract action. The lease contained a provision requiring the tenant to obtain fire insurance on the “Premises.” The trial court concluded that the lease failed to define the term “Premises” and that such failure rendered the fire insurance provision unenforceable. We reverse because we find the term “Premises” as used in the fire insurance provision to unambiguously refer to the space within the commercial building that the tenant rented and occupied during the lease. We further conclude that there is a genuine issue as to a material fact regarding whether it was possible for the tenant to obtain fire insurance on only the portion of the building which it rented and occupied. Consequently, we remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Scott Court of Appeals

In Re Clara A.
E2022-00552-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy E. Irwin

Mother appeals the trial court’s termination of her parental rights on the ground of severe
child abuse. Mother also appeals the trial court’s determination that termination of her
rights was in the best interest of the child. Concluding that clear and convincing evidence
was presented of both the ground for termination and that termination was in the child’s
best interest, we affirm the trial court’s judgment in all respects.

Court of Appeals

Jeffrey Robinson, Et Al. v. City of Clarksville, Tennessee
M2019-02053-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph P. Binkley, Jr

The owners of a restaurant in downtown Clarksville sued the City of Clarksville for breach of contract, promissory estoppel, interference with business relationship, diminution of value of land, and a takings claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the City’s failure to construct an alleyway on property Plaintiffs sold the City. Plaintiffs also filed a claim for inverse condemnation alleging that the City’s construction of a sewer line encroached on their land. The trial court dismissed Plaintiffs’ claims for breach of contract, interference with business relationship, diminution of value of land, and section 1983 claim for failure to state a claim under Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.02(6) and dismissed Plaintiffs’ promissory estoppel claim on summary judgment. After a jury trial on the inverse condemnation claim, the jury awarded Plaintiffs $8,335 for the value of land on which the sewer was built, and the trial court awarded Plaintiffs $30,000 in attorneys’ and paralegals’ fees. Plaintiffs appeal each of the dismissals, the measure of damages from the jury trial, and the award of attorneys’ and paralegals’ fees, among other things. We affirm the decisions of the trial court and decline to award Plaintiffs their attorneys’ fees on appeal.

Montgomery Court of Appeals

In Re Isabella G.
M2022-00246-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

Taylor M. (“Mother”) and Caleb G. (“Father”) are the biological parents of Isabella G. (the “Child”). Mother and her current husband, David M. (“Stepfather”) petitioned the Chancery Court for Giles County (the “trial court”) for termination of Father’s parental rights in April of 2021, and for Stepfather to adopt the Child. As grounds for termination, Mother and Stepfather alleged abandonment by failure to visit, abandonment by failure to support, and failure to manifest an ability and willingness to personally assume legal and physical custody of the Child. Following a bench trial, the trial court concluded that Mother and Stepfather failed to prove any statutory grounds for termination of Father’s parental rights. The trial court then concluded, however, that termination would have been in the Child’s best interests. Mother and Stepfather appealed to this Court. Because clear and convincing evidence establishes multiple grounds for termination of Father’s parental rights, and because clear and convincing evidence establishes that termination is in the Child’s best interests, we reverse.

Giles Court of Appeals

In Re Trenton B. Et Al.
M2022-00422-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee Bussart

This appeal involves a petition to terminate parental rights. The juvenile court found by
clear and convincing evidence that three grounds for termination were proven against the
father: (1) abandonment by incarcerated parent for failure to visit; (2) substantial
noncompliance with a permanency plan; and (3) failure to manifest an ability and
willingness to assume custody. The juvenile court also found that termination was in the
best interests of the children. The father appeals. We affirm.

Marshall Court of Appeals

Ciera Besses v. James Killian
M2021-01121-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe Binkley, Jr.

This case arises out of a vehicular accident between Ciera Besses (“Plaintiff”) and James
Killian (“Defendant”). Plaintiff filed a complaint for damages, seeking compensation for
past and future medical expenses, loss of earnings, pain and suffering, and loss of
enjoyment of life. Defendant admitted fault but challenged the reasonableness and
necessity of certain medical, hospital, and doctor bills itemized by Plaintiff. Defendant also
contended that some of Plaintiff’s claimed injuries were not causally related to the accident.
The jury awarded $16,720 to Plaintiff in damages, which represented $12,720 for medical
expenses; $3,000 for past physical pain and mental suffering; $1,000 for past loss of
enjoyment of life, and $0.00 for future physical pain and suffering and future loss of
enjoyment of life. Plaintiff filed a motion for additur and/or new trial, which the trial court
denied. Plaintiff appeals, contending that the trial court erred by denying her motion for a
new trial. We have determined it did not. Thus, we affirm.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Naconda Kathleen Webb v. William Danny Webb
W2021-01227-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Tony Childress

A husband and wife divorced after a short marriage. The trial court awarded a
disproportionate share of the marital property to the husband. The wife challenges the
court’s division and its denial of her request for attorney’s fees. Discerning no reversible
error, we affirm.

Dyer Court of Appeals

John A. Gentry v. Speaker of the House
M2022-654-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Russell T. Perkins

Plaintiff sues to enforce his perceived right to address the House of Representatives. Finding that the case is identical to a prior case in that it involves a court of competent jurisdiction, the same parties as a previous case, a prior final decision on the merits, and the same parties and cause of action, the trial court applied the doctrine of res judicata and dismissed the case. We affirm.

Davidson Court of Appeals

In Re Genesis B.
E2022-00973-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sharon M. Green

This appeal concerns the termination of a mother’s parental rights to her child. Jordan H.
(“Father”) and his wife Johnaysja S. (“Stepmother”) (“Petitioners,” collectively) filed a
petition in the Juvenile Court for Washington County (“the Juvenile Court”) seeking to
terminate the parental rights of Cynthia B. (“Mother”) to her minor son Genesis B. (“the
Child”). Mother has a history of criminal conduct involving the sale of illegal drugs. After
a hearing, the Juvenile Court entered an order terminating Mother’s parental rights to the
Child. The Juvenile Court found that the following grounds were proven against Mother
by clear and convincing evidence: abandonment by wanton disregard, persistent
conditions, and failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume custody. The
Juvenile Court found further, also by clear and convincing evidence, that termination of
Mother’s parental rights is in the Child’s best interest. Mother appeals, arguing in part that
despite her continued criminal conduct she has demonstrated a genuine desire to maintain
a relationship with the Child as evidenced by, for example, her filing a petition for visitation
and engaging in some visitation. We affirm the judgment of the Juvenile Court in its
entirety.

Court of Appeals

Mark Stanton Jackson v. Bennett Jackson Burke
E2021-01484-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael E. Jene

This is an appeal from the entry of an order of protection for stalking. The respondent
asserts that he did not receive the statutorily required notice of hearing and that the evidence
did not support a finding of stalking. The trial court ruled in favor of the petitioner. We
affirm.

Court of Appeals

In Re Ethan W. Et Al.
M2021-01116-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Hinson

A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to three of her children. The
juvenile court concluded that there was clear and convincing evidence of five statutory
grounds for termination. The court also concluded that there was clear and convincing
evidence that termination was in the children’s best interest. On appeal, we determine that
some grounds do not support termination of parental rights. Still, clear and convincing
evidence supports at least one statutory ground for termination and the best interest
determination. So we affirm.

Perry Court of Appeals

Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company v. Charlie Satterfield Et Al.
E2022-00496-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Telford E. Forgety, Jr.

The appellant, an insurance provider, sought a declaratory judgment against the policy
holder, his wife, and his grandson, relieving the insurance company of the duty to defend
and indemnify the policy holder, his wife, and his grandson against a complaint brought by
the conservator of the grandson’s girlfriend for varying claims of negligence. The
insurance provider filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that the grandson
constituted a “covered person” under the grandfather’s policy as an authorized driver and
that the grandson’s girlfriend constituted a “person residing in the same household as a
covered person,” triggering the policy’s household exclusion. Pursuant to the household
exclusion, which excluded liability coverage for bodily injury to “any covered person or
any person residing in the same household as a covered person,” the insurance provider
claimed that it owed no duty to defend or indemnify the policy holder, his wife, and his
grandson. The trial court granted the insurance provider’s motion for summary judgment
in part and denied it in part.

Sevier Court of Appeals

In Re Emberley W. et al.
M2022-00157-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Charles B. Tatum

Father appeals the termination of his parental rights on the grounds of persistent conditions
and failure to manifest an ability and willingness to personally assume custody of the child.
Father also appeals the trial court’s finding that termination of his parental rights was in
the best interest of the child. We affirm the trial court in all respects.

Wilson Court of Appeals

Wayne Haddix d/b/a 385 Ventures v. Jayton Stinson, et al.
W2022-01813-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor JoeDae L. Jenkins

This accelerated interlocutory appeal is taken from the trial court’s order denying
Appellant’s motion for recusal. Because there is no evidence of bias that would require
recusal under Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B, we affirm the judgment of the trial
court.

Shelby Court of Appeals

Robert L. Trentham v. Mid-America Apartments, LP Et Al.
M2021-01511-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Binkley

This appeal concerns premises liability. The plaintiff slipped and fell on a pedestrian bridge on the defendants’ property. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the plaintiff. The defendants appeal. We affirm.

Williamson Court of Appeals