Christina N. Lewis v. Walter Fletcher, et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn Peeples

This appeal arises out of an incident where the plaintiff fell off a staircase and sustained
injuries. The plaintiff filed a complaint against the defendants, who owned the building,
alleging negligence and negligence per se based on a violation of a building code. The
defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion for
summary judgment and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint. The plaintiff appealed. We

Weakley Court of Appeals

Williamson County, Tennessee et al. v. Tennessee State Board of Equalization et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

A taxpayer appealed a County Board of Equalization’s property valuation to the State Board of Equalization. The State Board reduced the valuation. The County then sought judicial review. After a new hearing in which the trial court heard testimony from competing appraisers, it affirmed the State Board’s valuation. It also determined that the County’s request to reclassify the property was untimely. We affirm.

Williamson Court of Appeals

Annaliese Potter v. Paul Israel
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Suzanne S. Cook

In this breach of contract case, the trial court awarded Appellee damages for Appellant’s
failure to perform his obligations under a construction contract in a workmanlike manner.
Appellant appealed. Due to deficiencies in Appellant’s brief, we do not reach the
substantive issues and dismiss the appeal.

Court of Appeals

Christina K. Collins v. Tennessee Department of Health, Et Al
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Richard B. Armstrong, Jr.

In the Chancery Court for Knox County (“the Trial Court”), Christina K. Collins sought
judicial review of a disciplinary order entered against her by the Tennessee Board of
Nursing (“the Board”). Finding that Ms. Collins’s petition for judicial review was
untimely, the Trial Court determined that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the
matter and dismissed her petition. Ms. Collins has appealed the Trial Court’s order of
dismissal. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Court of Appeals

Christopher B. Patton Et Al. v. Jill Marie Campoy
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ronald Thurman

This is a declaratory judgment action in which the plaintiffs seek to establish that they have
an ingress and egress easement over the portion of a once public road that crosses over
their neighbor’s property. The plaintiffs contend that they have a prescriptive easement or,
in the alternative, a private access easement for ingress and egress because their properties
abut the once public road that runs through the defendant’s property. The chancery court
found that the plaintiffs have a prescriptive easement for ingress and egress across the
defendant’s property. The defendant appeals. We affirm the trial court’s finding that the
plaintiffs have an easement across the defendant’s property, albeit on different grounds.
We have determined that the plaintiffs failed to prove a prescriptive easement;
nevertheless, they have proven a private access easement over the defendant’s property
because their properties abut a once public road that passes through the defendant’s
property. Accordingly, we affirm as modified the decision of the trial court awarding the
plaintiffs an ingress and egress easement over the defendant’s property.

Cumberland Court of Appeals

In Re Christabell B. Et Al.
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

Rebecca F. B. ("Mother") appeals the termination of her parental rights to her children Christabell B., Ashtynn B., Colton B., and Elan B. (Colton B. and Elan B. collectively, "Minor Children"; the Minor Children, Christabell B., and Ashtynn B. collectively, "Children").2 The Chancery Court for Maury County ("trial court") granted a default judgment against Mother and terminated her parental rights based on several statutory grounds: abandonment; persistent conditions; and failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume legal and physical custody. We conclude that the ground of abandonment was not proven by clear and convincing evidence, and therefore reverse the trial court's judgment as to that ground. However, we affirm the trial court's findings as to the other statutory grounds and its finding that termination of Mother's parental rights is in the Minor Children's best interests.

Maury Court of Appeals

Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance v. William Max Ridden
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle E. Hedrick

The notice of appeal filed by the appellant, William Max Riden, stated that appellants were
appealing the judgment entered on May 24, 2023. As the order appealed from does not
constitute a final appealable judgment, this Court lacks jurisdiction to consider this appeal.

Hamilton Court of Appeals

James L. Coxwell ex rel v. Watco Communities LLC et al.
Authoring Judge: D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge James H. Ripley

This appeal concerns the denial of a motion to intervene. John A. Watson, Jr. (“Watson”)
moved to intervene in a lawsuit filed by James L. Coxwell, Sr. (“Coxwell”), by and through
his attorney-in-fact, Cam Coxwell Shiflett, against Watco Communities, LLC (“Watco”)
and MountainBrook Assisted Living, LLC (“MountainBrook”) (“the Companies,”
collectively). Watson and Coxwell were once in business together but had a falling out.
Coxwell sued to recover money he had loaned the Companies. Coxwell and the Companies
reached a settlement, and an agreed order was entered to that effect. Watson’s motion to
intervene came after entry of the agreed order and his having known about the litigation
for many months. Watson objects to language in the agreed order between Coxwell and
the Companies providing for joint and several liability by the Companies, which he says is
unfavorable to his interests. The Chancery Court for Sevier County (“the Trial Court”)
denied Watson’s motion to intervene, citing untimeliness. Watson appeals. We find no
abuse of discretion in the Trial Court’s denial of Watson’s motion to intervene. We affirm.

Court of Appeals

Victor Williams et al. v. Calvin Collins et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Anne C. Martin

This is a contract dispute. The trial court granted non-resident Appellees’ Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 12.02(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. After conducting a de novo review, we agree with the trial court that Appellees did not have minimum contacts with Tennessee that would permit the exercise of personal jurisdiction over them. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Benjamin L. Folkins, Et Al. v. Healthcare Group (Hong Kong) Co., Limited, Et Al.
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle E. Hedrick

The defendants appeal a jury verdict rendered after several days of trial. The parties are former business associates, individuals and entities, who worked together in the manufacturing, importing, distribution, and sale of memory foam mattresses. When one of the plaintiffs withdrew from the business in 2016, he invoked a buyout provision in the parties’ operating agreement. The defendants disputed, among other things, the validity of the operating agreement and refused to pay the buyout. A protracted dispute followed, with both the plaintiffs and the defendants alleging several causes of action against one another. Following cross-motions for summary judgment in 2020, the trial court ruled that the operating agreement was not invalid for fraud or unconscionability. The case proceeded to trial on August 3, 2021. The trial lasted several days, and the jury returned a verdict largely in favor of the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs were awarded compensatory and punitive damages, as well as almost a million dollars in attorney’s fees. The defendants appealed to this Court, raising a host of issues. We conclude, however, that the trial court erred in refusing to grant the defendants a mistrial on the first day of trial. For the reasons stated herein, we vacate the jury’s verdict and the trial court’s judgment entered in this matter and remand the case for a new trial.

Court of Appeals

John Schmeeckle v. Hamilton County, TN, Et Al.
Authoring Judge: Judge Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Pamela A. Fleenor

Appellant appeals the denial of his motion to recuse the trial judge on the grounds that the trial judge refused to explain the reasons other judges recused from the case, refused to hear evidence of misconduct against an attorney involved in the case, and allegedly ruled erroneously in several respects. Because we conclude that an ordinary person knowing all the facts known to the judge would not question the judge’s impartiality, we affirm.

Court of Appeals

Reginald Hall v. Wilmington Savings Fund Society, ET Al.
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor M. Nichole Cantrell

In April of 2018, Bank of America, N.A. (“BOA”) conducted a foreclosure sale on a piece of real property located in Anderson County, Tennessee. The property was subsequently sold to a third party. The previous homeowner, Reginald Hall (“Appellant”), initiated wrongful foreclosure proceedings against BOA, among others, in the Chancery Court for Anderson County (the “trial court”). BOA filed a motion for summary judgment on July 7, 2022. Following a hearing, the trial court entered an order granting BOA’s motion. Appellant appeals to this Court. Because Appellant’s brief does not comply with the applicable Rules of Appellate Procedure governing briefing, the issues purportedly raised are waived. The trial court is affirmed.

Court of Appeals

T.J. Martell Foundation for Cancer Research v. KraftCPAs PLLC et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amanda J. McClendon

This appeal followed the trial court’s certification of a final judgment pursuant to Rule 54.02 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. Because we conclude that the trial court’s certification was improvidently granted, we dismiss the appeal.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Angellette Batts-Richardson v. Jeremiah Richardson
Authoring Judge: PER CURIAM
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bonita J. Atwood

This appeal involves a mother’s post-divorce petition for modification of alimony and child support. Because the trial court has not disposed of all of the claims raised in the mother’s petition, we dismiss the appeal for lack of a final judgment.

Rutherford Court of Appeals

Christopher Gray Wallace v. Jessica Tomlin Wallace
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey Usman
Trial Court Judge: Judge Adrienne Gilliam Fry

Husband and Wife divorced; the trial court divided their property. Husband appeals, asserting five errors. Two of those purported errors are related to continuances, and three are related to the trial court’s division of the couple’s property. With regard the property division, one purported error relates to the trial court’s division of certain vehicles and two purported errors relate to the trial court’s division of two parcels of real property. We conclude that both of Husband’s continuance arguments are waived. We also conclude that his property division argument as to the vehicles is waived. With regard to the real property division, we conclude the trial court made inadequate findings of fact and conclusions of law to explain its decision as to both parcels, and we vacate and remand for the trial court to render further findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Montgomery Court of Appeals

Philips North America, LLC v. KPI Healthcare, Inc. et al.
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph A. Woodruff

To collect on its judgment, Appellant judgment creditor served a levy on Appellee garnishee bank. Judgment creditor sought to garnish an escrow account that was subject to an escrow agreement between a third-party and judgment debtor’s representative. Garnishee bank initially responded that it did not have any funds to remit. Thereafter, garnishee bank filed an amended response and enclosed a cashier’s check for $731,598.51, the amount of funds in the escrow account; the check was made payable to the Williamson County Circuit Court. A few days later, garnishee bank filed a motion to return funds deposited into the Clerk’s Office. At trial, garnishee bank argued that it was not properly served with the levy and that, even if service was proper, judgment creditor had no right to collect the funds held in the escrow account. The trial court agreed. We conclude that garnishee bank waived any objection concerning whether the levy was properly served. The trial court’s order is otherwise affirmed.

Williamson Court of Appeals

Laura S. Christie, et al. v. Baptist Memorial Hospital d/b/a Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women, et al.
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jerry Stokes

Plaintiffs appeal the dismissal of their health care liability claims against a hospital and two
doctors who treated their daughter on the day of her birth and tragic death. The trial court
reluctantly ruled that the plaintiffs failed to substantially comply with Tennessee Code
Annotated section 29-26-121(a)(2)(E) and dismissed the claims as untimely. We conclude
that the plaintiffs met their burden to show substantial compliance with section 29-26-
121(a)(2)(E) as to the defendant hospital, but not the defendant doctors. We therefore
affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings.

Shelby Court of Appeals

In Re: Conservatorship of Jessica Abeyta
Authoring Judge: PER CURIAM
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andra J. Hedrick

This is an appeal from a final judgment in a conservatorship case. Because the appellant did not file her 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

Sarah Bryant v. State of Tennessee
Authoring Judge: Judge Arnold B. Goldin
Trial Court Judge: Commissioner James A. Hamilton

This appeal follows the dismissal of the appellant’s claim for damages in the Tennessee
Claims Commission. The appellant, who was injured during a class she participated in
while enrolled as a student in the occupational therapy program at the University of
Tennessee Health Science Center, submits that the Commission’s failure to find her
professor negligent was in error. For the reasons stated herein, we affirm.

Court of Appeals

Diana Lynn Van Zandbergen v. Scott W. Van Zandbergen
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Vanessa Jackson

In this divorce case, Husband/Appellant appeals the amount and duration of alimony in futuro awarded to Wife/Appellee. Husband also appeals the trial court’s award of attorney’s fees to Wife for Husband’s alleged failure to comply with discovery. We conclude that the amount of alimony in futuro exceeds Wife’s need. As such, the award of alimony in futuro is modified to $3,451.00 per month and shall terminate upon Wife’s death or remarriage, or Husband’s death in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-5-121(f)(3). We vacate the trial court’s award of $20,000.00 in attorney’s fees to Wife and remand for the trial court to enter an order containing sufficient findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding this issue pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 52.01.

Coffee Court of Appeals

Ashleigh Suarez Smallman v. William H. Smallman
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Phillip R. Robinson

This is a post-divorce action in which both parents seek to modify the permanent parenting plan and the father seeks to reduce his financial support obligations. The mother filed her Petition to Modify Permanent Parenting Plan in which she requested, inter alia, a reduction of the father’s parenting time and that she be awarded sole decision-making authority for the non-emergency medical and educational decisions for the parties’ two minor children. The father filed his Counter-Petition to Modify the Parenting Plan seeking, inter alia, that he be awarded the tie-breaking vote for all medical decisions for the children; that joint decision-making authority for educational decisions be maintained between the parties; that his financial obligations be modified, including child support as well as previously agreed-upon additional educational and medical expenses; and that he be awarded more parenting time. Following a trial that spanned 10 days, the trial court found in a 53-page memorandum opinion and final order that neither party proved a material change of circumstance that justified modification of the parenting schedule. However, the court found the parents’ inability to successfully co-parent under the existing joint decision-making provision adversely affected the children’s non-emergency healthcare and educational needs. The court also found that it was in the children’s best interests that the “[m]other have sole decision-making authority over their non-emergency healthcare and day-to-day education, free of any interference or delays by the father and without being required to consult with him in advance.” The court denied the father’s request to modify child support as well as his request to modify responsibility for educational, medical, and extracurricular expenses. The father appeals. We affirm the trial court in all respects. We also find that the mother is entitled to recover the reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees and expenses she incurred in defending this appeal and remand this issue to the trial court to make the appropriate award.

Davidson Court of Appeals

In Re: Oriana Y.
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge John C. Rambo

A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child. The trial court terminated parental rights on the grounds of abandonment by wanton disregard and failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume custody or financial responsibility for the child. The court also determined that termination was in the child’s best interest. We agree and affirm.

Court of Appeals

Nedra R. Hastings v. Larry Maurice Hastings, Jr.
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Magistrate Terre Fratesi

This case arises from a protracted and contentious child support action, which began in
2005 with a petition for child support filed on behalf of the mother seeking child support
assistance from the father for care of the parties’ minor son. Over the years, the parties
filed numerous petitions to modify the child support amount, petitions for contempt for
failure to pay medical and other expenses, petitions for changes in visitation with the child,
objections to the appointment of magistrates by the juvenile court judge, and requests to
rehear many of the motions and petitions. All pending matters were ultimately dismissed
for failure to prosecute in an order entered December 1, 2020.1 This appeal arises from
two petitions filed by the mother after the dismissal for failure to prosecute. The first was
a petition for contempt against the father for failure to pay medical and dental expenses for
the child and failure to pay the full child support amount, and the second was a petition
seeking payment of extraordinary expenses for the child related to his senior year of high
school and an extension of the father’s child support obligations until the child reached the
age of twenty-one. Upon thorough review of the record and consideration of the issues
raised by the mother on appeal, we affirm the decisions of the trial court.

Shelby Court of Appeals

Public.Resource.Org, et al. v. Matthew Bender & Company, Inc., et al.
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle

This appeal concerns a petition to access public records filed against a private entity. David L. Hudson, Jr. (“Hudson”) and Public.Resource.Org filed a petition against Matthew Bender & Company, Inc., a division of LexisNexis Group (“Lexis”), in the Chancery Court for Davidson County (“the Trial Court”) pursuant to the Tennessee Public Records Act (“the TPRA”) seeking access to and a copy of the complete and current electronic version of the Tennessee Code Annotated (“the TCA.”).1 The Tennessee Code Commission (“the Commission”) intervened on Lexis’s side in part to protect the state’s alleged copyright interest in the TCA. The Trial Court held that the TCA is exempt from disclosure because Tennessee law provides a separate avenue for publication of the TCA. In addition to its dispositive ruling, the Trial Court held that Lexis operates as the functional equivalent of a governmental entity, and that the TCA is disqualified from copyright protection. Hudson appeals. Lexis and the Commission raise issues as well. We hold, inter alia, that Lexis is a private company performing specific services for the state on a contractual basis. It has not assumed responsibility for public functions to such an extent as to become the functional equivalent of a governmental entity. We modify the Trial Court’s judgment in that respect. Otherwise, we affirm.

Davidson Court of Appeals

Public.Resource.Org, et al. v. Matthew Bender & Company, Inc., et al. (concurring)
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle

I would also affirm the dismissal of the petition for access to public records and to obtain judicial review of denial of access. But I would do so only “on the threshold issue” identified by the trial court. The trial court framed the issue as “whether Tennessee Code Annotated constitutes a document required for public access under the Public Records Act.” On that threshold issue, I reach the same conclusion as the trial court and the majority. State law otherwise provides for access to Tennessee Code Annotated, so Tennessee Code Annotated is not a “state record” subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 10-7-503(a)(2)(A) (Supp. 2023) (making all state records “open for personal inspection by any citizen of this state . . . unless otherwise provided by state law”); see also Tennessean v. Metro. Gov’t of Nashville & Davidson Cnty., 485 S.W.3d 857, 865 (Tenn. 2016) (recognizing Tennessee Code Annotated § 10-7- 503(a)(2)(A) as “a general exception to the Public Records Act, based on state law”). The trial court recognized that resolving the threshold issue was “dispositive, making it unnecessary to decide the other two defenses asserted.” Yet, “in the interest of avoiding a time-consuming and expensive remand” in the event of a reversal on the threshold issue, it also ruled on the other defenses.

Davidson Court of Appeals