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COURT OF APPEALS OPINIONS

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 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

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

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 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

Pauline Madron v. City of Morristown, Et AL.
E2021-01514-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas J. Wright

This appeal concerns an alleged violation of the Open Meetings Act, Tenn. Code Ann. §
8-44-101, et seq. Pauline Madron (“Plaintiff”) sued the City of Morristown, Mayor Gary
Chesney, as well as Councilmembers Al A’Hearn, Chris Bivens, Robert Garrett, Tommy
Pedigo, Kay Senter, and Ken Smith (“Defendants,” collectively) in the Circuit Court for
Hamblen County (“the Trial Court”). Plaintiff alleged that the city’s public notice of a
July 12, 2019 special meeting to exceed the certified tax rate was inadequate. Plaintiff and
Defendants filed crossing motions for summary judgment. The Trial Court granted
Defendants’ motion for summary judgment with respect to Plaintiff’s Open Meetings Act
claim. Plaintiff appeals, arguing that the city’s notice that it intended to exceed the certified
tax rate was mere jargon that did not reasonably inform the public of the purpose of the
special meeting or the action to be taken. In response, Defendants argue that Plaintiff’s
Open Meetings Act claim is moot as it arises out of a property tax rate that was passed in
fiscal year 2019-2020, which lapsed before this matter was heard. Alternatively,
Defendants contend that, while most people may not understand the intricacies of city
finances, most people do understand what “exceed” and “tax rate” mean. While Plaintiff’s
claim is moot, it warrants resolution nevertheless. We hold that the city’s public notice of
the July 12, 2019 special meeting was adequate. We affirm.

Hamblen Court of Appeals

Deborah Lacy v. Big Lots Stores, Inc. Et Al.
M2019-00419-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge William B. Acree

A woman filed a complaint alleging she was assaulted at a retail store.  Following a bench trial, the trial court concluded that the woman failed to prove her assault claim, and the woman appealed.  Due to the deficiencies in the woman’s appellate brief, this Court is unable to reach the substantive issues she raises, and we dismiss the appeal.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Joey Sampson v. Aircraft Maintenance, Inc. et al.
M2021-01277-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey Usman
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Laurence M. McMillan, Jr.

This appeals centers upon a challenge to a chancery court’s findings of fact that proved
determinative as to multiple legal issues arising in litigation related to unpaid repair costs
for rendering a private plane airworthy. The chancery court made the factual determination
that the plane owner did not agree to pay for the repairs performed by a mechanic. In
reaching this conclusion, the chancery court resolved the case based upon documentary
evidence in the form of deposition transcripts and exhibits rather than live witness
testimony. Given the documentary nature of the trial court proceedings, we conducted a
de novo review of the evidence presented without affording deference to the trial court’s
factual findings. We find the trial court erred in its factual finding that the owner did not
agree to pay for the repairs. Accordingly, we reverse the chancery court’s legal conclusions
for which the trial court’s contrary factual determinations had been determinative. We
conclude that the plane owner breached his contract with the mechanic and is responsible
for storage costs for the plane pursuant to the possessory lien thereupon. We remand for
further proceedings including a determination of the applicability of prejudgment interest
to the repair costs.

Montgomery Court of Appeals

Christa Stephen et al. v. Sarah Hill
M2022-00672-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Adrienne Gilliam Fry

This appeal involves a personal injury case where the defendant died during the pendency
of the litigation. Subsequent to the filing of a suggestion of death by the defendant’s
counsel, the plaintiff failed to timely file a motion for substitution within the time provided
in the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure and, as a result, the defendant’s counsel filed a
motion to dismiss. Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff filed a motion for substitution and
simultaneously moved the trial court to enlarge the time for filing the motion. The trial
court denied the plaintiff’s motions and dismissed the case. Upon our review of the record,
we reverse.

Montgomery Court of Appeals

In Re Aubree D.
M2022-00267-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tiffany G. Gipson

The mother of Aubree D. appeals the termination of her parental rights. The trial court found that the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) established several grounds for terminating the mother’s parental rights—including severe child abuse—and that termination of her rights was in Aubree’s best interest. On appeal, the mother contends that the evidence is insufficient to prove any ground for termination or that termination of her parental rights is in Aubree’s best interest. In a dependency and neglect proceeding, the Circuit Court for Overton County found that the mother subjected Aubree to severe child abuse, and this court affirmed that finding in In re Aubree D., No. M2021-01229-COA-R3-JV, 2022 WL 4488507 (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 28, 2022). Thus, the finding of severe child abuse is res judicata. We have also determined that DCS proved other grounds for termination and that termination of the mother’s parental rights was in Aubree’s best interest. Accordingly, we affirm the termination of the mother’s parental rights.

Overton Court of Appeals

Michael Cackowski Et Al. v. Jason Drake
E2022-00700-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jean A. Stanley

This appeal involves a breach of contract action filed against the agent of an undisclosed principal. The trial court entered an order granting judgment against the agent. The agent appeals. We affirm.

Washington Court of Appeals

In Re Jacob J.
M2023-00029-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Louis W. Oliver

A father appeals the termination of his parental rights. Because the father did not
file his notice of appeal with the clerk of the appellate court within thirty days after entry
of the final order as required by Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a), we dismiss
the appeal.

Sumner Court of Appeals

N.H., et al. v. Shelby County Schools
W2022-01761-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jim Kyle

This is an interlocutory appeal as of right, pursuant to Rule 10B of the Rules of the Supreme
Court of Tennessee, filed by N.R.H. (“Petitioner”), seeking to recuse the trial court judge.
Having reviewed the petition for recusal appeal filed by Petitioner, and finding it fatally
deficient, we dismiss the appeal.

Shelby Court of Appeals

In Re J.S. et al.
M2022-00142-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey Usman
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Howard

A Father appeals the termination of his parental rights, asserting his due process rights were
violated as a result of failure to timely appoint counsel in both dependency and neglect
proceedings and termination proceedings. The juvenile court terminated Father’s rights
for abandonment, under several statutory provisions relating to putative fathers, and for
failure to manifest an ability and willingness to care for the child, and the court determined
that termination was in the child’s best interest. We conclude that any issue regarding the
appointment of counsel in the dependency and neglect proceedings is not properly before
this court and that Father’s due process rights were not violated in the termination
proceedings. Because the Department of Children’s Services does not defend the
abandonment ground on appeal, we reverse this basis for termination. We also reverse the
trial court’s conclusion that clear and convincing evidence established a risk of substantial
physical or psychological harm to the child. Nevertheless, the evidence presented supports
in a clear and convincing manner multiple statutory grounds for termination and that
termination is in the child’s best interest. Accordingly, the judgment terminating Father’s
parental rights is affirmed.

Sumner Court of Appeals

Monsieur Shawnellias Burgess v. Bradford Hills HOA Et Al.
M2020-01565-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph P. Binkley, Jr.

A homeowner sued his homeowners’ association in general sessions court. Upon motion of the homeowner’s association, the case was removed to circuit court. After the case was removed to circuit court, the homeowner amended his complaint to add an attorney for the homeowner’s association as a defendant. The homeowner’s association and the attorney sought to dismiss the amended complaint. The circuit court granted the motions to dismiss but allowed to the homeowner to file a second amended complaint against the attorney in order to state a claim for negligent misrepresentation. Ultimately, the circuit court granted the attorney a judgment on the pleadings after concluding that the second amended complaint failed to allege facts satisfying all of the elements of a claim for negligent misrepresentation. The homeowner appealed. Discerning that the circuit court erred in granting the homeowner’s association’s motion to dismiss, we vacate that portion of the court’s judgment and remand for further proceedings. We affirm the circuit court’s judgment in all other respects.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Bryan College v. National Association Of Christian Athletes
E2021-00931-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Justin C. Angel

This appeal concerns the ownership of property following the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff college.  We vacate the decision of the trial court and remand for further proceedings. 

Rhea Court of Appeals

Walter Joshlin, et al. v. Hollis H. Halford, III, M.D., et al.
W2020-01643-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jerry Stokes

This appeal involves a failure to timely move for substitution of parties after the death of
one of the two plaintiffs. In a previous appeal, this Court directed the trial court, on remand,
to determine whether the plaintiff’s response to a motion to dismiss should be construed as
a motion for enlargement of time pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 6.02, and
if so, to determine whether the plaintiff’s failure to timely move for substitution of the
parties pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 25.01 was the result of excusable
neglect. On remand, the trial court determined that the plaintiff’s filing should be construed
as a motion for an enlargement of time. However, the trial court also found that the plaintiff
failed to timely move for substitution due to counsel’s misinterpretation of the law, which,
the trial court concluded, did not constitute excusable neglect. As such, the trial court
granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss for failure to timely substitute parties. The
plaintiff appeals. We affirm and remand for further proceedings.

Shelby Court of Appeals

Karen Mathes v. N.J. Ford and Sons Funeral Home, Inc., et al.
W2021-00368-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jim Kyle

This appeal involves an action filed against a funeral home and a cemetery for alleged
mishandling of a dead human body. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of
the funeral home as to the claims against the funeral home only. The plaintiff appeals. We
affirm.

Shelby Court of Appeals

Benjamin McCurry v. Agness McCurry
E2022-01767-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Thomas J. Wright

Because the order appealed from does not constitute a final appealable judgment, this Court lacks jurisdiction to consider this appeal.

Washington Court of Appeals